More specifically, you could be faced with a very delicate balance between short-term rewards and long-term objectives. It’s far too easy to develop a sense of myopia when you have a client with a pressing project in front of you. Should you complete this project, you get paid right now and that is certainly a satisfying feeling. You may be balancing this project with other tasks you’ve been given by other clients. This is also a good thing. As mentioned above, if you’re busy, chances are that you’re making money.
Your Own Projects
However, there is a flip side to this. Many freelancers eventually want to move away from services and into products so that they can enjoy greater time freedom. For my part, I already wrote a book and I have another project currently sitting in the backburner. The problem is that this “side project” is exactly that: on the side. I’m allowing my clients’ projects take priority over my own projects.
And therein lies the conundrum of short-sightedness. In the short term, managing your clients and completing their assignments on time gets you an immediate reward. This reward is necessary, as we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed. In the long term, such an exchange of hours for dollars, as it were, may not be completely viable.
Some people are content to be career freelancers and that’s fine. That’s their prerogative. Other people enjoy freelancing, but want to really work and develop their own projects in the long run. This second group of people may be faced with a set of incompatible goals and I’m not entirely sure what the solution to this quandary may be.
Solving the Time Puzzle
One option is to leave your own projects on back burner until you encounter “lean” times with your clients. You have some more time to devote to your own work at that time, but it’s possible that these projects will float on the back burner for a very long time.
Another option is learning to say no to new projects from your clients until you have enough time to dedicate to your own work. That forces you to delay gratification, as your own projects probably aren’t immediately lucrative.
It’s a tough spot. For all the freelancers out there who are interested in developing and selling their own products, how do you find the balance between your own work and the work you do for your clients?