5 Reasons Why You Should Become a Free Agent
For the the majority of my career, I’ve been an independent worker. It’s easy to take the lifestyle for granted after so much time being my own boss, but every now and then it’s good to take a step back and realize that—despite all the challenges that come with it—working as a free agent is a cherished privilege.
If you’re thinking about making the leap, or you’ve already gone independent but second-guessing if this is really the lifestyle for you, here are five reasons why I think being a free agent—whether as a freelancer or a content creator—is undeniably fabulous.
Reason #5: You can pick your own job title.
I crave variety in my work. If I have to accomplish the same flavor of tasks every single day, I grow thoroughly bored. As a free agent, I’m able to seek out projects, technologies, and industries that interest me and help me stay motivated. I’ve designed websites for book publishers and written biographies of wedding DJs. I’ve engineered marketplaces for wine suppliers and customized enterprise XML editors. I’ve gotten paid as a graphics designer, a UX specialist, a software developer, a writer, a video editor, and (crossing my fingers) I hope to get paid to write a soundtrack some day!
Reason #4: You can seek out people who do great work.
When you’re part of a company with a corporate structure outside of your control, you work with the people you work with. That’s it. If you enjoy hanging out with them and admire their output, good for you! But if you don’t…well, your options are limited. When you’re an independent worker, you have the opportunity to assemble a team around different projects or initiatives and find people you love to work with. (Assuming they’re also free agents and are available!)
Reason #3: You can bid farewell to that 9-5 desk job and see the world!
As a free agent, you have full control over where (and when) you work. Sure, there may be certain expectations that you’ll be available at specific times for certain tasks, depending on the needs of your clients. But generally you’ll have a degree of freedom that’s difficult to find in the world of salaried positions. You’ll have a lot more leeway to travel, to work from home or a café or a cowork space or a library, or maybe even work onsite for different clients which can be a lot of fun too.
Reason #2: You can let loose your inner entrepreneur.
The relationship between employers and side projects can be a tricky one. Depending on the type of company you work for and the nature of your side project, you may discover that your employer is bothered by your focused attention away from their needs, or worse, they’ll want to claim your intellectual property as their own. No such hassle when you’re your own boss. You make up the rules! If you want to spend a few days now and then working on your own projects, or cram some effort into early mornings or nights or weekends, or alternate between weeks of client work and weeks of personal work (I know of a freelancer who did this and eventually switched to full-time work on their own software development)—it’s totally up to you.
Reason #1: You can choose your own schedule.
Which brings us to the top reason why you should become a free agent: time. Time is the most valuable asset you possess. It’s so valuable precisely because it’s so limited. You have a finite lifespan, and there’s no way you can add more time or buy extra time (short of debatable methods of buying your way into a healthier lifestyle which might increase your lifespan). Because time is so precious, your top priority as a worker and as a human is to be mindful of how you’re spending it. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in a position where your control over your schedule is compromised.
That’s why being a free agent is so incredible. You have full control over your work schedule. You decide what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. (Well, it is possible to arrange things with demanding clients such that you are a slave to their every whim. But I strongly recommend you avoid such projects like the plague!)
If you want to get up at 6am and work until 3pm, go for it. If you want to roll out of bed at 10am and sit down at your desk at noon, who’s going to argue? If you want to take a long break in the middle of the day to enjoy some sunshine outdoors and make up for it at night, that’s totally your prerogative. If you want to charge more for your services so you can afford a 4-day workweek instead of 5, that’s well within your wheelhouse.
At this point in my career, the freedom I have over when, where, and how I do my work is more important to me than anything else in business. I’m probably “unemployable” now, simply because I can’t imagine having as much flexibility working for a single company. I know of a lot of other free agents who feel exactly the same way. That’s why they’re free agents!
So there you have it: 5 reasons why you should become a free agent. Can you think of a 6th? I’d love to hear about it!