Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, co-founder of lifestyle magazine Lagom, founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, and an electronic musician.

Why being freelance does not mean you have to work more hours

Posted on 06 October 2008 Comments

Article illustration for Why being freelance does not mean you have to work more hours

Before I took the plunge and left full-time employment to set up my own business, there was one piece of advice that was given to me by almost every design professional I spoke to: Prepare to work a lot more hours.

So I went into it with a level head, prepared for this seemingly inevitable sacrifice. But I also went into it with a concerted effort to turn this stereotype around. In my mind, if I was sensible about the way I worked and approached things, there would be no need to work more hours than when I was in full-time employment. In fact, I decided I should aim to work much less.

And it worked. These days, I work far fewer hours, work itself no longer encroaches into my free time (it’s the other way around), and my bank balance is at its healthiest… well… ever!

Now, don’t worry, I’m not about to go all Tim Ferris on yo’ ass. I wouldn’t say I’m a GTD fan (using Things and iCal is about as far as I go), I don’t outsource anything (except the tax return to my accountant and the occasional bit of dev work to my friends), and I’m certainly not interested in being a money-grabbing ‘businessman’ (i.e: I want to get paid for the work I do, not get paid for exploiting others). I’m not the type of guy who’ll write a blog about how to ‘make it’, because I don’t know (and guess what? Those guys don’t either). I don’t have any answers, so I won’t pretend that I have.

But it can be done. Although a large number of my friends are working every hour the day brings, I’m positive that it’s not necessary. And a small handful seem to agree. Sam Brown, for instance, has got the balance so right that he’s able to regularly churn out absolutely brilliant personal projects. Hats off.

To those of you out there who are considering whether or not to make the jump, I say do it.

When people ask me if freelance life is going well or if I miss full-time employment, my answer is always the same: “it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

(Photo: Cleo on my desk)

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