China Daily/Asia News Network
Cheng Chao, 39, owner of a Shanghai-based cross-border business consulting firm, with his 6-year-old daughter, who receives more care from her freelancer dad. (China Daily/File)
Young professionals appear to prefer freelance work to experience a new way of boss-free job and control over work and career growth. But older professionals opt for freelancing mainly to strike a perfect work-life balance.
In a 2015 study on Chinese people's happiness conducted by Tsinghua University, respondents chose freelance work as one that would produce maximum happiness for professionals.
Cheng Chao, 39, owner of a Shanghai-based cross-border business consulting firm, agreed. He has been a freelancer for more than 10 years now.
He prepares breakfast and enjoys having meals with his 6-year-old daughter. He escorts her to her kindergarten, works till 4:30 pm at home or his favorite cafe that offers free Wi-Fi, and collects his little girl after school.
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It is a schedule developed keeping his daughter at the heart of it. This, he said, has made him contented and won much admiration from peers and neighbors alike.
Even though his current income is less than one-fifth of his full-time job salary, Cheng believes he is much the better for it.
He said he "worked his ass off" between 1999 and 2002 for several leading internet technology companies in China. All that hard work helped him to make his first pot of gold. In 2003, Cheng started to work on his own.
Initially, there were financial and other kinds of difficulties. There were family misunderstandings. But Cheng persisted with freelancing. He now owns two brands, one focusing on cross-border trade consultancy and the other on translation, serving clients from Europe, the United States, Australia, Israel, Singapore and other countries and regions.
"Each freelancer goes through three stages: making a living, working on his own small business and finally creating a personal brand. The freelancer must work toward creating products, and become a brand himself. Only in this way can he eke out a decent livelihood by doing what he is interested in," he said.