Break Free from the Nine to Five with a Freelance Income
Tom Kerr writing on freelance income…
Before I left the world of corporate America in favor of various freelance careers, I didn’t know anyone who freelanced for a living, except maybe writers and photographers.
But I did know plenty of hardworking people, including myself, who had decent 9-to-5 jobs working for employers they disliked, doing jobs they disliked even more.
After I left my sales career behind I followed my interest in music into a part-time freelance job writing about upcoming concerts for the local newspaper. Not only did I get free concert tickets, and the chance to meet many of my favorite musicians backstage, but I got paid to have all that fun. I started working for magazines, too – writing on a wide variety of topics – and saved copies of my articles until they filled an entire closet.
One weekend, as I was cleaning out that closet, I realized that I was onto something good.
Now I’ve been supporting myself as a full-time freelancer for nearly 15 years…and I didn’t even start writing professionally until I was almost 50 years old. Not only has it paid the bills, but – more importantly – it has enabled me to live the kind of independent lifestyle I design for myself. Many folks refer to that as “an active retirement,” and I’d have to agree.
Since I started out, times have changed, and these days freelancing is the new entrepreneurship. But unlike most entrepreneurs, freelancers don’t need a comprehensive business plan to lure investors…a warehouse filled with inventory…an expensive team of employees…or fancy office space. You have less to tie you down which means more independence to do your own thing, your own way.
I have friends and colleagues who freelance in all sorts of fields and professions. Among them are those who teach tennis…work as foreign language interpreters at local hospitals…or serve as fishing guides.
Freelancing not only offers you the flexibility of being your own boss, but you can also fully exercise the integrity of choosing how you prefer to apply your knowledge, skill, talent, and focus. Set your own schedule. Declare a day off whenever it strikes your fancy. If a client is rude, fire them.
An ambulance driver I knew a few years back, named Mike, felt overworked and underpaid. He felt that he was aging too fast because he worked long overnight shifts that were taking a toll on his health. At one point, after witnessing some horrific accidents, he was diagnosed with PTSD. His wife urged him to find a less stressful job.
Mike had always loved photography as a hobby, so he got some tips from a guy who worked as a newspaper photographer.
With that knowledge, he started working as a freelance photographer for trade publications read by first responders and emergency workers. He turned the photo opportunities in his world into saleable images, which propelled his career.
Soon he was selling images published in emergency medical training manuals and textbooks. The new career enabled him to become a full-time photographer, traveling around while working at his own pace.
It’s interesting to note that the word “freelance” is relatively new. Until about 150 years ago it was written “free lance,” because the origin of the term dates back to an era when knights, bearing lances as weapons, freely roamed the land with an air of authority…and an attitude of service.
Delving deeper you’ll find that “free” comes from an ancient root word that means “to love,” and it is also closely related to the word “friend.”
My experience has been that when you love whatever trade you ply, it becomes much more than a job or career, it becomes a lifelong friend.
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