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I recently celebrated my 5 year “freelance-i-versary:” 5 years since I left my last job in PR research and went out on my own. I’ve been having a ton of fun, and wanted to share my top 5 favorite things about this life.

My 5 Favorite Things about Freelancing1. Hunting for my dinner makes me sharper.  Cold calling is stressful: the amount of work for no return, the fear of rejection, the actual rejection. I don’t do a ton of it. Instead, I get a lot of referrals from people who know me, and sometimes I practice “guerilla marketing:” writing to people whose surveys I’ve come across, commending them for doing research, and telling them how I can help make what they’re doing even more effective. I’ve gotten two clients this way! I also carry my business cards to the gym, on the bus, and when I’m out backpacking around Haiti—because you never know who you might meet!

2. Working with diverse clients keeps my skills up. I’ve struck a good balance recently, doing about a third of my work for PR agencies (where my background is), a third for research companies (who always seem to have overflow work), and a third for my own end clients (ranging from hearing aid manufacturers to financial planners). Every project (and every day) is different, which I love.

3. Re-connecting with old connections is a delight. Recently I re-connected with an old colleague from Ogilvy who I hadn’t talked to since 2007 (thank you, LinkedIn!). She’s on her own now too, and in short order had sent me a project  and referred me to someone at another agency. Plus we had a lovely catch-up.

4. I can pick and choose my clients. I rarely turn down clients, but it’s nice to know that if someone approached me who was really not a good fit (product or service I don’t believe in, project outside of my capabilities, abusive or unpleasant personality), I could (graciously) say no.

5. I have time to do other things. In addition to completing a PhD in Survey Methodology, I’ve done a few other things that weren’t directly for clients. I’m teaching a Questionnaire Design Boot Camp class on Skillshare. I recently published a paper in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. I also got my advanced scuba diving certification and have ridden on 6 subway systems in 5 countries this year!

Some people think freelancing is all about working in your pajamas and schmoozing relentlessly whenever you do go out in public. For me, it’s all about designing a life and a career that delights me every day, and I’m full of gratitude for everyone who’s helped make it possible. Here’s to the next five years!