You are thumbing through your favourite magazine and come across a fascinating story. It captivates you and when you finish reading you go looking for information on the author. The biography of course has their name, where they are from, and perhaps details on other writings, but you notice too that he/she is a professional freelance writer.
On further review you find that the photographs and drawings that accompany the piece were also submitted by freelancers: photographers and graphic designers. More articles appear on the following pages of your magazine, again by freelancers of some description.
Later, while reading the day’s news online, you find more articles and stories by freelance writers, and more pictures by freelance photographers, and more drawings by freelance graphic designers. On top of that, you discover a write up on software that was written by a freelance software engineer, or a home that was designed by a freelance architect.
All of this piques your interest so much you want to spend the rest of that evening researching freelancing and the various jobs and careers it can cover. Maybe you too can join this ever growing world of self-employed individuals called freelancers.
Before you begin your journey though, it is best to know the benefits and drawbacks you may face first. Being your own boss definitely sounds appealing and rewarding, but working on a per client basis has both a good and a not so good side. In order to be a successful freelancer you really have to weigh all of the pros and cons and be absolutely sure that the career path is right for you.
A lot of people will tell you that leaving their job to freelance was the best thing they ever could have done. They truly enjoy the flexibility of their schedules and the higher earning potential. Others will tell you that they could not wait for each of their projects to be over because the assignments seemed to carry so much stress, and in the end they returned to their day job. If you decide to freelance you want the first result to be true, and not the second.
So, before you are ready to make your decision, let’s look at some of the most common benefits and drawbacks of being a freelancer.
How cool is it to be your own boss!!
Just think. You essentially plan your own schedule, choose only the projects that interest you, and charge whatever you please for the work that you do. Something you don’t get when you work for someone else.
Control of your work is now in your hands and nobody, except your clients of course, can tell you what to do or when to work. Fridays can disappear from your work week calendar, if you want a long weekend every week of the year and you don’t need the additional income that day could bring in. The freedom to take off any other day or days that you want is also yours to enjoy. It’s as simple as scheduling the work around those days.
And what about the “dress code”? Well that depends largely on where you will be conducting your freelance work. If your projects will primarily be online and you are working in your own home, then by all means keep those jammies on for a little while longer, or plop yourself at your computer in your sweats. Be comfortable! Of course if/when projects or meetings arise outside of your home office, it is good to have at least 2 – 3 nice outfits in your closet for those occasions.
Want more time with family and friends, and for yourself? You’ve got it. Freelancing allows you the flexibility to work your own hours. Spend quality time with your children after school and work when they have gone to bed. Take a break and enjoy a nightcap with your spouse. Vacation when he/she has the time off work rather than trying to juggle schedules to take a holiday. Meet a friend for coffee or lunch. See that movie. Go to the spa. It is all up to you.
Does all of this sound like it could work for you? Well just wait, I saved the absolute best part for last.
Freelancing offers you a near limitless income potential. Because you work for yourself you keep what you earn. None of it goes back to an employer. And because you work for yourself you are free to accept as many projects as you want or can handle, and earn as much money as you think you need. The more you work the more you earn. The money is your profit, for you to keep and do with however you want. The only obligations you have of course are income taxes.
Ok now for the not so cool stuff.
While it is true freelancing does offer you a near limitless income potential, your actual income may be sporadic and fluctuate greatly, especially at first. The reality is you won’t be as financially stable as you were when you received that regular pay check. This loss of security often causes many would be freelancers to change their minds and stay at or return to their jobs.
Money management will play a key role in your financial success. You will need to always ensure that the projects are lined up, completed, and paid for on a regular basis, to provide adequate income to cover your household expenses and income taxes. Budgeting is a must.
Competition will also play its part in your financial success. It can be heavy and fierce in the freelancing world, especially depending on your area of expertise and your market.
The internet is the tool most often used to source out jobs and it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. While it certainly brings the world closer and allows you to reach out to potential clients all over the globe, other freelancers are using it too for the exact same purpose and are looking at all the exact same clients and all the exact same jobs as you are. You must act swiftly, because the job you want so badly can be snatched away from you in an instant by another freelancer who wants it just as badly.
Also, with freelancing being so global, you are competing with freelancers in not so developed countries who are willing to accept a far lower rate for the same work. You may need to initially lower your own financial expectations in order to get the jobs, build your client base and portfolio. When your client list and geographical area expands, your earning potential will too.
The flexibility of having a freelance career is second to none and there is practically no other job in the world that gives you both the spare time and the financial freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it.
It is now up to you to weigh the benefits and drawbacks to decide if freelancing is right for you.