The Unexpected 9-5 Job

I’m sure we’ve all heard it going through (or maybe against) the school system.

Do what you love! Follow your passion! Work hard!

We enter society having the preconceived notion of what creative entrepreneurship will be like: startup culture. Flexible schedules, trendy DIY decorated offices, and of course the first few years of your life will be hell –but that’s perfectly a-ok because you’re working on something you’re passionate about. Right?


Right! That’s great and I am in full support of making a living off doing something that fulfills you, but I’m starting to wish we didn’t encourage everyone to follow their dreams without at least informing them of what the grind really is. I’m not saying freelancing isn’t completely out of reach –just keep in mind that it still requires a lot of work. Luckily if you really love what you do it makes all the obstacles that much easier to conquer.

1. It’s Still a 9-5

Whenever I tell someone I just met that I freelance, generally the first burst of excitement from their mouths is “That’s awesome! So you can make your own schedule and sleep in yeah?” Oh how I wish that were true! Even though technically you can make your own schedule, working as a freelancer still roughly follows a 9 to 5. Reason being is that even if personally you had the option of waking up and starting your day at 2:00pm the rest of the world operates between 9 to 5. To work with and especially communicate with them you need to abide by their hours.


2. Time Zones are Fun

Let me add an amendment to the point above. Even though people work between 9 to 5, their 9 to 5 might not be in the same timezone as your 9 to 5. For instance setting up a phone call with New York at the start of the day actually means waking up at 5:30am PST to be ready for my 6:00am PST (9:00am EST.) Over the summer I worked with a client based in Taipei, Taiwan. Mmm 15 hour time difference.

3. Overtime!

During the beginning stages of your trek into the creative world you will not only experience the 9 to 5 you so desired to avoid, but also prepare for the prodigious amount of overtime you’ll be putting in. While the rest of the world gets to go home and stop working at 5:00 pm as a self-employed creative you will be busting your butt after hours. Even if you’re on top of your work somehow, someway $hit always comes up. In the beginning you’ll find yourself going into the strange hours of research, emailing, prepping, retouching, etc. or running out on weekends to run errands, go scouting, attend events. Oh the list can go on! And of course let’s not forget while trying to maintain homeostasis with our freelance errands, you’ll also have to balance and upkeep your day-to-day chores such as laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc.

4. Lots and Lots of Different Hats

Congratulations you’re chasing your dreams. While you’re doing your 9 to 5 + OT you get to be your own boss and your own:

  • Assistant
  • Secretary/Receptionist
  • Project Manager
  • Marketing Department
  • Accountant
  • Investor
  • Website Manager
  • Blogger
  • Retoucher
  • Producer
  • Gaffer
  • Art Director
  • ….the list can go on!

Transitioning into full-time photography was (and to be honest still is) a fun learning curve. Because literally you have to do everything on your own or at least in the beginning stages. And each role is reliant on the others each being successfully completed. In my past blog [10 Things I Wish I learned in Art School] I supported the notion that it’s okay to be a jack of all trades. In the situations when you’re still getting your feet wet in the industry you better figure out how to juggle all those hats!

5. Scheduling and Planning

As your own boss you’re in charge of both setting up goals you hope to reach and creating schedules for your day-to-day and deadlines. As simple and easy as this sounds it takes a tremendous amount of mental discipline to do this. Not only do you have to be accountable to the gigs you pickup to pay the bills, you also have to stay accountable to yourself and your owns goals that keep you fulfilled.

6. Self Promotion and Marketing

Wait did I say gigs you pickup to pay the bills above? That’s right as much as we all want to live in the fantasy of doing what you love and making a living off it, keep in mind that it doesn’t happen right away. While you’re grinding along working towards your goals bills and expenses will accumulate. Oh no! In order to stay afloat enough so that you can go another day of the grind you have to be your own self promoter and marketer.

Strangely as artists bragging about ourselves is another difficult thing to do. We’re our own biggest critic and probably borderline perfectionists. There are times where I’ll never want to show, talk, or share my work with others because it’s not ready yet.This is something we must get over. It’s just part of the game. Just don’t be one of those annoying kids with a camera that shows a gazillion pictures of typical sunsets and fancy cars/girls expecting to land a huge job.



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