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  • Diana Schneidman

Looking inside the mind of a freelancer

Mashable recently ran an attractive infographic illustrating the findings of a recent survey from 24 Seven on freelancers’ attitudes towards freelancing.

In addition to demonstrating how nicely good graphics can add enjoyment to possibly tedious numbers, “Inside the Mind of a Freelancer” presents several observations that merit a look.

First, the two leading reasons why people initially decide to become freelancers are flexibility and freedom. Laid off from previous job and wanted a better work / life balance are next on the list. “More money” comes in at seventh place.

This surprises me. Since I spend a lot of time reading e-newsletters from marketing experts, I would expect money to be higher up the list. Considering how many pros teach how to earn six figures, I thought that more $$$ is most people’s primary goal.

However, it also appears from what I’m reading that many people don’t follow through in working with the instructional ebooks, coaching series and other aids they purchase to master freelancing techniques. Perhaps people buy them because they think they should aim for the big bucks, but in practice, they are not sufficiently motivated to do what it takes.

This is totally understandable to me because, for instance, in my specialty, writing, it takes a heck of a lot of work to bring in over $100,000 per year. It takes a combination of steady clients (so you can cut back on marketing and have more time for writing) and a specialty that commands high rates. (Anyone here want to write direct mail packages for Publishers’ Clearinghouse?) Plus a lot of time sitting at the computer.

As a writer and coach on how to freelance and consult, I find this fact heartening. I know a thing or two about how to make more money, but I’m even more of an expert on achieving flexibility. And no, it does not always come naturally—lots of freelancers find themselves stressing out without the presence of a boss down the hall. (Stay tuned—I’ll attack this topic in my next article.)

Now take a gander at the likelihood of accepting traditional employment. The infographic shows that the longer freelancers practice their craft, the less likely they are to want permanent employment.

You’ll see that the exact figure is 8.2 on a scale of 10, with 10 meaning extremely likely, and the figure dips to 6.1 for those with more than 10 years of experience in the business.

Yes, the stated conclusion fits the data, but I find it more interesting that the average long-timer is still so open to a “real” job. Looks to me like they’d rather have traditional employment than freelance, when you get right down to it.

Forty-five percent of freelancers expect their base salary to increase by 5% or more this year. Not bad. But notice that another graphic shows that 45% of respondents have been a freelancer for two years or less. So 5% higher income isn’t such a big deal for those who haven’t been in business long, while a 5% raise for corporate employees may well be more money because they start work on day one with a real salary that is substantially higher than zilch.

Originally posted 6-27-12

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