Continuing with my series of posts on discoveries and surprises I’ve made during my first year of freelancing, this one focuses on how my views on time and money have evolved.

I remember many conversations with my dad over the years when he would ask me how could I be satisfied with being an employee. As an entrepreneur, he could not understand it. And I, as an employee working on big projects at one of the most important design studios in the world, could not understand his question.

Now that I freelance, I get it. It was a question of self motivation: how did I use all the idle times when not busy with work? The truth is that for the most part, that time went to waste. Why? Because idle time was still paid time.

The equation changes dramatically with freelancing. Idle time is not paid time. But with a newfound self motivation, I notice idle time has become a time for possibilities. Finding ways to promote myself. Updating my website or this blog. Contacting potential clients. Bookkeeping. Engaging in personal projects to stimulate my creativity. Even teaching an MFA graduate course in branding.

I think this motivation comes from having had to put a price to my time. Once “what’s your hourly rate?” became a common question I had to respond to, it was hard not to realize my time is valuable, and begin treating it as such.

On the subject of money there is a lot to discuss, but I’m not sure I could do it any better than Mike Monteiro in his F*ck You, Pay Me lecture.

Other than using a different choice of words.

Nailing the proper time/money ratio is an art, sometimes nerve-wracking. And freelance finances are very different from those that stem from steady paychecks. Fortunately, I found some very useful resources:

The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers & the Self-Employed
Creative Inc.
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties

Together with friends who already freelance, these books served me as a good compass in the early months of transition to a freelance approach to branding and design.