Friday, October 17, 2008

Are You Cut Out to Be a Freelancer?

I think my job is the greatest job ever. But recently I was telling someone what I do--very enthusiastically--and she wrinkled her nose. "You mean you don't know what you're going to make from month to month?" she said. "I would hate that."

We're not all cut out to be freelancers. Here are a few signs you shouldn't give up your day job--at least for the time being.

You really can't bring yourself to sell or market. I was like this when I first started, and to be honest I still don't market much. But I did do a fair amount of it when I first started, and before that I delayed starting my business for years because of a fear of marketing. It's a necessary evil, though. If you really can't do it, you have to learn--and you'd better not quit your day job until you do.

You can't stand the uncertainty. Freelancing comes with a lot of ups and downs. To me, it's exciting--I don't know what I'll make from month to month, and I might make a fabulous income next month! Of course, there's always the possibility that the opposite will happen. Some people are naturally more at home than others with the uncertainty, and some people have higher overhead--a mortgage, kids to support, college loans to pay--that makes them less able to handle uncertainty. Depending on how comfortable you are with an irregular income, you may be better off hanging on to your day job--at least until you have significant savings to get you through lean times.

You just want it to be easy. Some people just want to roll into work, do what they're paid to do, and go home again. With freelancing, you will take your job with you. You will work overtime and weekends sometimes. You will have lean months and periods of too much work. But you can also go jogging in the afternoon if you want, take on only the projects you want, and skip it all to go have coffee with a friend or catch a poetry reading. It's a balance, but running a business demands a lot of time and energy you likely wouldn't spend at a 9-to-5 job.

You need cash now. If you're looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, don't look here. Any freelancing business takes time to build, and you could labor for years before you're earning as much as you did at the office. Then again, you could earn signficantly more--who knows? But you're not likely to earn it quickly. If you have bills that need to be paid right away, you're better off looking for a full-time job to gain solvency before you strike out on your own.


Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl said...

I think I am. Although I don't like the marketing part and I detest talking on the phone, I have such a passion for writing that I'd die if I couldn't do it every day. ;-)


Alison said...

I agree - I find the uncertainty liberating rather than scary and soooo much less stressful than my old, reliable corporate job. But when I first went out on my own lots of people told me I would hate the ups and downs and it would be really stressful to not know - projection, anyone?

I'm even finding that I am growing to love marketing myself - and that is something I definitely didn't expect!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Not too fond of the "toot your own horn" part of freelancing, but the rest is pretty fun.