Self Development August 8, 2020

Confessions of an overworked freelancer

Griffin Johnston @GriffinJohnston

I've been lucky enough to find success as a freelance designer/developer for more than a decade now, but the road to bigger contracts and steady income has been paved with years of 80 hour work weeks (I think I must have gotten confused when I first read Tim Ferriss). The feelings of freedom and independence that this path originally provided me have slowly given way to an increasing sense of "stuckness." I originally learned how to do this stuff because I wanted to build things for myself, but the need to pay rent and eat and all the expenses of life took the front-seat. Even as I started earning enough that those expenses weren't a problem, the lure of larger contracts kept me grinding.

I've been telling myself for years that being a freelancer would allow me to work on my own projects "in-between" client jobs. But as my business grew, the truth is that I've been just as time-constrained as someone working a full-time job. Honestly, looking at the hours I work, I probably have even less free time than the average employee.

I've been working on my own little API product for a few months now, and finding it frustrating balancing client work with the thing I'm actually excited about. So yesterday I finally made the decision to take my own thing as seriously as I take other people's: I turned down a large client job in order to focus on shipping my side project.

Anyone who has worked as a freelancer knows how hard this can be - but WOW did it feel good. I had started to forget what it's like to feel genuinely excited about my work. This small act of self-commitment has been rejuvenating to say the least. If anyone is reading this feeling unsure about taking the plunge, I'm here to tell you that it's worth it. Even if it's only for your mental health, it's worth it.

Thanks for listening.

  1. 3

    I know exactly how you feel. I've been a freelance copywriter and content writer for close to 4 years now, and many time have I stopped and asked myself "what the f*&$k am I doing", and realized that I probably work more hours than what regular writers do.

    I couldn't take it anymore, I wasn't happy, I dreaded doing client work, I wasn't excited anymore. So I took a step back and did a reflection of the past 4 years, and I literally did nothing for myself.

    Decided a few months ago that I wanted to do my own project and not other peoples projects and it was so worth it. Been building/growing my newsletter and it honestly refreshed me as a human and a person. There is a new spark in me, and it was worth it.

    1. 1

      Love hearing this! I'm glad I'm not alone. It's so hard to step back and look honestly at yourself like that, it's taken me almost a decade, haha. So well done.

  2. 2

    I was very excited to read this!

    I can deeply relate. It was a 5 years path for me. Got into the business because I wanted to build something of my own but the bills got pilled up :)

    Almost 2 years ago I joined a company that was founded by one of my customers because I was totally burnt out.

    I must say... I kinda regret it now. Lately, I've started missing freelancing but then I realized that what I truly miss is that amazing feeling of DOING SOMETHING YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT, true creation, and being your own boss.

    I am too making small steps towards gaining this feeling once again.
    I really, really wish you the best of luck, man!

    1. 2

      I'm glad to hear that you're working on this for yourself! All I can say is, keep chasing that feeling. Always have something you're working on, and don't forget that it's possible to wake up excited about your work. Thanks for the words of encouragement, and best of luck to you too!

  3. 1

    Nice, i'm glad you're able to make the step to see your own project as important as a clients one.

    I know how hard it gets, and you always feel that bit of ashamed almost if you are selfish and turn down a client, but it's the right thing man!

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