Before I started working for myself, I was trapped in a world where I had almost no control over what I got to work on. The projects were decided two or three levels above me. And while I had some creative freedom in the actual work, I hated how little influence I had on the bigger picture. Not to mention the fact that the high-level decisions were made by the arrogant, but I won't get into that.
People on the outside of freelance almost always say this exact sentence to me "You have freedom now, right?" This idea is flawed. The truth is that I'm still beholden to my bank account. Money has to go in it. So, that means I have to take jobs on a regular basis. However, I do have a lot more freedom. I get to define the rules of my engagement with clients, in the form of legally binding contracts...that I write.
After the basics of pay and project scope, there are a couple rules that I don't budge on:
- Anything I create can be used for self-promotion in my portfolio. I'm firm on this one. If they can't agree to this, we don't work together.
- Payment doesn't go below a certain amount (based on what I need to pay all of my monthly and yearly bills). I also demand a decent pay in general, so as to educate clients that artists require good pay. The work is hard after all.
- Additional requests for additional work beyond the project scope will require compensation at the normal pay rate. This ensures I don't get caught doing oodles more work for no extra pay.
Still, I've been lucky. Most of the gigs I've had so far have been with pretty great people. I'm fortunate in the quality of my friends and clients. And I have no regrets. Quitting my well-paying job over a year ago was the best decision I ever made. In my whole life. Period.