Just How Complicated is Freelancing, anyway?

The new way of work is a gig economy of growing legions of freelancers and independent contractors. Far from having no job, these self-employed workers actually have to perform many jobs, implementing everything necessary to operate a small business.

As I have said, this stuff is not really my thing, and I will probably never be a successful gig worker.

If there was even the smallest shred of doubt about that conclusion, it was dispelled by Josh Hoffman’s two-part article, “82 rules for all freelancers to live by”.

Eighty two!

Anything with that many rules is w-a-a-y too complicated for my puny mind to handle!

Actually, his collection is more of a play list than an original essay. Most of these points appear elsewhere, which is clear because he links to the sources.


It’s a lifestyle

His list includes a variety of topics. Item 1 is probably the most important:

Freelancing isn’t a job or career. It’s a lifestyle choice.”

Heck, it’s a lifestyle just to learn his 82 rules. : – )

It’s not only a lifestyle, it’s a personal lifestyle. He offers a lot of new age-y advice.

Do it your way.

Keep trying,

If it makes you happy, do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.”

Channel your inner epic.”

Embrace your weirdness ”


It’s a business

As he says, “Speaking of business, you are one”.

Most of his rules apply to any small business, not just freelancing.

Many of the  rules are about how to run a small business (which I’m pretty sure is a lifestyle choice no matter what business you choose). This includes a bunch of stuff about:

customer/client relations,

marketing,

branding.

Network, network, network.


The problem with having so many rules

…is that they start contradicting each other.

For instance, he is very confusing about selfishness.

He’s advises other-oriented attitudes, if not actual altruism.

You can’t do anything great alone.”

Always lead with an unconditional willingness and readiness to help.

Gratitude is instant medicine.

But then, it’s about you.

Be selfish. That’s what freelancing is all about. It’s about you,

If it makes you happy, do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Channel your inner epic.

Embrace your weirdness ”

These attitudes seem contradictory to me.


And there are some real stinkers in here

Some of his items are weirdly obnoxious and assert values I simply can’t agree with.

He endorses a really racist analogy about, “are you a Cowboy or an Indian”. I wont’ dignify this with an explanation of his point. It’s just icky.

He has a very specific idea about what kind of business you are in.

Clients care about two things: how to make more money, and how to save more money. Everything else is noise. Eliminate the noise from your sales pitch.

Huh. That’s not the only things my clients worry about.

He endorses the notion that freelancers are rootless.

The world is your office. If you’re unhappy with where you are, move. You’re not a tree.”

Um. Don’t workers have a home, a family, to a community?


Overall, this list seems way, way to long for me, and not especially well organized.

However, it does really make the point that a freelancer has to run a business, and also has to self-motivate.

I think this is why there is the striking incongruity of his bloodthirsty “it’s about the money” and the touchy-feely “channel your own epic.”  A freelancer has to figure out how to do both–and get both work and life done, too.

I note in passing that one of the reasons why many freelancers like coworking is that the coworking community is people who face the same challenges, and they can face it together.

As I have said, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it myself.


  1. Josh Hoffman , 82 rules for all freelancers to live by, Part 1, in Freelancers Union Blog. 2017. https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2017/06/26/82-rules-for-all-freelancers-to-live-by-part-1/
  2. Josh Hoffman, 82 rules for all freelancers to live by, Part 2, in Freelancers Union Blog. 2017. https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2017/06/27/82-rules-for-all-freelancers-to-live-by-part-2/

 

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