Let’s start from a definition and work from there. What is a freelancer?
freelancer. a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.
So, at the heart of it, a freelancer is one who does not have allegiance to a single person or company, but instead offers his services up to various employers. Could also be called self-employed. That is a rather cold definition. I prefer one a little more romantic myself.
freelance (n.) – also free lance, free-lance, “medieval mercenary warrior,” 1820 (“Ivanhoe”), from free (adj.) + lance (n.); apparently a coinage of Sir Walter Scott’s.
freelance (v.) – 1902, from freelance (n.). Related: Freelancer (1898); freelanced; freelancing.
“…I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them. I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment. And thou, Waldemar, wilt thou take lance and shield, and lay down thy policies, and wend along with me, and share the fate which God sends us?” – Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
So, as a freelancer we are a “mercenary.” Mercenary has a much more romantic sound than self-employed. Following along with that more romantic definition and utilizing my surname, thus was born the name of this blog, Freelance Knight.
So why did I become a freelancer, and why might you want to be a “mercenary” in the game industry?
Collaborating with others to help them succeed in their creative projects can be rewarding in many ways. There is so much satisfaction in coming alongside an author, game designer, or publisher, helping them create the best game possible for their community. Proofreaders and editors can be game company staff, so collaboration is not limited to freelancers, but it is an integral part we play in the game industry. Many publishers utilize freelancer artists, authors, editors, layout specialists, and proofreaders.
As a freelancer, we have the Variety of the entire game industry available to us, not just the projects of a single publisher. We can be editing a board game manual for a publisher one day then proofreading an rpg book for a different publisher the next. One week we might be drawing fantasy landscapes and the next graphically laying out a cyberpunk card game. One month we are focused on cleaning up text in a steampunk novel series while the next we are hip deep in language translation proofreading of a post-apocalyptic campaign world.
As a father of twins, caregiver for my wife who has Multiple Sclerosis*, and employed full time in a day job, the Flexibility of being a freelancer often is the greatest perk. I can accept and decline projects offered to me based on my available time and interest in the project. Especially for those of us who want to work part time in the game industry while full time employed elsewhere, the life of a freelancer gives us that flexibility.
I am not saying if the opportunity arises that you should not work for a single game publisher. Being devoted to a single publisher has its own perks and challenges. I am just sharing my insights and experiences as a freelancer, which works best for me at this time in my life.
I look forward to discussing freelancing and other topics with you in future posts. If you have a topic of personal interest or a question you would like to ask me, please feel free to leave it in the comments below or send me a private message.
* I will discuss Multiple Sclerosis and its impact on my family’s life and freelancing in a future post. If you desire to know more about MS before that post, you can find a good overview at the National MS Society website.