Life as a freelance creative

Life as a freelance creative

freelanceJonny Elwyn is a freelance film editor, blogger and author of How To Be A Freelance Creative. Here he shares some of the knowledge he’s amassed during his eight years of working in the industry…

Being a freelancer in London for the past eight years I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to build a successful career from scratch. However the journey of a freelancer can be confusing and difficult at times, especially if you’re trying to navigate it on your own.

It’s a life of uncertainties, but there are three things you can be sure of when living the freelance life:

You won’t work all the time

You will have periods where you are not earning and there will most certainly be dry, fallow, stressful periods. This is okay – it is par for the course.

The important thing to remember is that this is part of being a freelancer. The decision to make is: does this instability fit with the season of life that I am currently in?

If not, it might be time to consider permanent employment. If it does fit, then you just need to be patient and ride it out. The more you plan ahead, save for the times when you’re not working, and be proactive, the easier these periods will become.

Think of it this way, you are now time rich. Invest your time wisely – let your contacts know you are available, pursue your personal passion-projects, pitch to new clients and update your online portfolio – and you will reap rewards later on down the line.

If you compare you will despair

The more you measure yourself against other freelance peers, friends in permanent employment or credits you see on television, the more you will compare where you are with where you want to be, and the more you focus on the gap – the more you will despair.

The important thing to remember is that this is a false comparison. You didn’t have the same opportunities, connections or life as them. You are not them. There is in fact, absolutely no basis for comparison.

Get on with your life, your career and push it in the direction you want. Comparison is a waste of time. Focus your time, energy and creativity into positive movements towards where you want to be. As the Baz Luhrman song Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) says: “sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

You have no idea what’s going to happen next

One of the constants of being freelance is that work can come out of nowhere; and unfortunately jobs that seem a certainty can fall away at the last minute.

However, the more you can learn to relax, enjoy the ride and hold things lightly when bumps in the road like this occur, the easier it will be. Part of this light-handedness can only come with experience, with a few rides on the freelance roller coaster under your belt.

This openness to a lack of control over your life can be a tremendous advantage if you keep your eyes and mind open to grabbing hold of unexpected blessings in unexpected places. Be too controlling, however, and you’ll dismiss them as things that ‘don’t fit into my plan.’


So if any of these things resonate with how you feel about being a freelancer, then welcome to the club. You’re right on track as to how life is for all of us from time to time.

As freelance creatives we all have to come to terms with the challenging aspects of not having a permanent job, and when you do, and if you can learn to take advantage of them, you’ll have a muc

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