#FreelanceFriday: Tips and Trends for Freelancing After 40 (and 50)
April 14th, 2017 by
There is a false perception that freelancing (and the gig economy in general) is a young person’s game. But now more than ever, older individuals are making their presence felt in the freelance community.
Proving that age doesn’t matter, writers and other creatives over the ages of 40 and 50 have come to embrace the freedoms and flexibility of the freelance lifestyle. A recent study conducted by UpWork found that 28% of Baby Boomers are freelancing either full or part-time.
While that is still less than the total for 18-24-year-olds freelancing (48%), these so-called “silver self-employed” are gaining ground quickly. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) found a 46.5% increase in freelancers over 50 since 2008.
What draws older individuals to freelancing?
Unsurprisingly, it is the very same reasons that draw younger people to it:
Everyone–no matter what age–is trying to find the perfect work-life balance. For many, the flexibility of freelancing offers a step in the right direction towards that harmony. Freelancing is also a viable option for those in need of a more flexible schedule when raising children or caring for sick loved one.
Confined to an office for most of their lives, many older freelancers crave the independence that also comes with the freelance lifestyle.
While some 50+ creatives are supplementing their retirement with freelancing, others who are still working have found the same creative outlet that draws most younger freelancers to the game as well. Performing the same job for several years can leave a creative person yearning for more. Freelancing provides a much-needed outlet for all of that bottled up imagination.
And finally, the widespread availability of freelancing gigs makes it easy for older creatives to find work, especially if that person has been unexpectedly laid off. It is significantly easier to take skills culled from your years of work experience and apply them to freelance side gig or use this background to kick off a fresh new direction in your life. There are plenty of freelancing jobs available these days for everyone.
Why older freelancers are actually an asset
In the recent past, people over 40 and 50 have been filled with doubt and trepidation about entering the freelance world. They may have felt that they were too old, lack the proper experience, or were not tech-savvy enough.
Despite those fears, the exact opposite was often true. First off, no one is too old to freelance! All/any experience is important. There are so many avenues you can explore as a freelancer; you just need to find the one that works for you.
Older freelancers typically have a greater desire to learn and prove one’s self—this goes for technology too. It may seem intimidating, but you will be surprised how quickly you catch on.
Self-discipline, accountability, and overall quality are the most important factors to a successful freelancing career. It is no secret that older adults are proven to be more reliable and focused than most 20-year olds. This will go a long way with those looking to hire freelancers. In the end, being older can actually be an asset to potential clients and employers.
Tips for those over the age of 40 and considering becoming a freelancer
In addition to general advice for ALL freelancers (stay organized, prioritize, eliminate distractions, don’t take on more than you can handle, etc.), here are a few more tips specifically for the more mature freelancer:
Be conscious of, but not afraid of the learning curve
Yes, freelancing is different, in many ways, from your traditional job. Even for the well-prepared, the first time you do something new, it is a bit daunting and full of “what ifs.” Venturing out into a new world will bring with it new processes, new considerations, and new experiences. Rely on what you already know and build on that. Seek out the information you need and gain experience when you can.
Freelancing may require you to change how you write (at least a bit)
There are many different avenues you can explore as a freelancer, with many different writing styles attached to each. An experienced, talented writer should be able to adapt their style when needed. In the end, no matter what the style, successful writing usually comes from honesty, connecting with your audience, and provides a direct benefit to the reader (answers questions, entertains, etc.).
Accept that not every gig is right for you
While older freelancers can be a tremendous asset to clients, that does not mean they are right for every assignment—just as younger writers are not right for all as well. Whether that reason is based on knowledge or experience, you just may not be the right fit. There is an audience out there for everyone; you just need to find it. Faking it is never easy, and will ultimately be exposed.
As a more mature writer, you bring a wealth of experience and knowledge, plus a stronger eye to see beyond the challenges a new freelancer will possibly encounter. Combine this with a passion for high-quality work and yearning for more freedom in your life; you should have no regrets for shaping your own track as a freelancer—no matter your age!