Two decades ago, the publishing company I worked for relocated. I was out of a job, and I decided then to freelance. The decision wasn’t easy. I faced a sluggish economy. If freelance statistics were correct, I was setting myself up to fail. Still, I decided to try. Here I am, twenty years later, still freelancing! It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.
If you are thinking about freelancing, here are some pros and cons.
PROS . . .
You are the boss (most of the time). You own your business; you are responsible for every aspect. Still, you need to remember that yours is a service business. In that way you work for your clients.
You can pursue your passion. If writing is your thing, you can write. Maybe you love editing or consulting. Freelancing allows you to pursue what you love.
You control when you work. No more 9-to-5 job. You choose when you work; however, this comes with a hitch—you need to be self-disciplined and manage yourself to make the most of your work time.
You control where you work. All you need is a laptop and you can take your office anywhere. Using Skype or Facetime, you can even meet with faraway clients in your home, a coffee house, or wherever.
You get to choose. Maybe you want to specialize in an area that suits you, or maybe you want a lot of variety. You get to choose the kinds of projects you work on.
CONS . . .
You wear many hats. Freelancing means that you do all the creative work as well as sales and marketing, invoicing, signing contracts, troubleshooting technology, keeping track of tax deductible business expenses, making estimated tax payments, and so on.
Your salary is unpredictable. You can’t control when projects come or how much you might earn in any given month. Often, you can’t control when you get paid. Some clients pay 50% when the contract is signed and 50% on the project’s completion. Others pay 100% on completion. Most pay within 30 days and others 60 or even 90 days.
Your schedule is unpredictable. You never know when a client will contact you with a project. All projects have deadlines. You need to decide how much work you can take on and still meet those deadlines. Sometimes, your calendar will be wide open. Other times, you will be juggling several projects at once and even have to turn projects down.
You worry about job security. There will be times when work is slow. Maybe you lost a big client. The publishing industry might be in a slump. There are many reasons to be concerned when you have no work for weeks or even months. It’s important to expect and to plan ahead for those times.
You feel isolated. Freelancing comes with independence and that can lead to isolation. You are the boss, but you have no employees. Your partners are your clients, but your relationship with them exists only in emails and occasional phone calls. Unless you make a real effort to take your office to other venues, you will be working at home all the time.
Weigh the pros and cons. Then ask yourself, “Is this for me?” If your answer is, “Yes,” then get going. Dive in. See where the journey takes you.
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