We’ve all heard great things about being a freelancer: having the ultimate independence to make all your creative decisions, no bosses to answer to, flexible hours and working from the comforts of home. It all boils down to a single theme: Freedom.
Being a freelancer sure beats the constraints of a regular corporate 9-to-5 job, but as they say, freedom comes with a price. So many of us may have overrated the ‘freedom’ that is associated with freelancing without properly considering what we may have to give up in place to attain that.
Instead of taking the usual path of examining what’s great about becoming a freelancer, we shall examine 20 good reasons why you shouldn’t be a freelancer.
The points will be split into two categories, either being related to the working environment or to personal characteristics that are not compatible with.
From full-time job to full-time freelancing, there are bound to be changed to the way things work. The secret to not diving into the unknown is to figure out whether you can adapt to these environmental changes. Freelancing is not for you if:
1. You Like Benefits
The biggest bummer of all: you’re not getting any medical coverage, paid sick days, paid leave, retirement savings and many other common employee perks and benefits if you want to take up freelancing as your latest career move.
2. You Expect Absolute Flexibility
Freedom does not equal flexibility. The fact remains that it’s the clients who will decide when you are supposed to be working. They’re the one who set the deadlines, who can make changes at the last minute, and some expect you to reply to them any time they need answers. Be less than available most of the time and you risk losing returning businesses.
3. You Want to Separate Work From Your Personal Life
No regular working hours and no distinct work locations make freelancing an inseparable part of your life. You don’t get to stop taking calls from clients after 5 p.m. every day. Work is where your laptop is and can start at any time of the day (or night!).
4. You Hate Being On Call 24/6
Demanding clients expect you to be available when they have questions about the project. If you can’t handle the idea of being contactable at any time of the day (even ungodly ones), it’s better for you to reconsider making this your next career move.
5. You Expect to Have Real Vacations
Faced with the irregularity of working hours, unrealistic expectations by demanding clients and sometimes very tight project deadlines, taking a proper vacation might be a challenge. You’ve to accept that you might still need to reply to emails and do some work while on vacation in Bali.
6. You Don’t Like to Be Deskbound
You get to bring your laptop anywhere and still work, but regardless of what environment you are in, you still have to sit in front of a machine (and preferably a desk) if you are going to live life as a freelancer.
7. Most of Your Social Life Comes From Work
For the general public, it’s not surprising to have worked as the primary source for social activities, seeing as how we spend more than 8 hours at work. But as a freelancer, be prepared to face a social ‘drought’ as you’ll be working alone most of the time.
8. You Expect Others to Understand What Your Job Is Like
One less than a positive way of viewing freedom is unpredictability. Your income is not consistent, working hours are irregular and you might even seem unemployed to your family and friends. It takes another freelancer to see that you are actually working hard to pay the bills. Don’t be surprised if family members nag you into running errands and doing housework for them while they leave for their ‘real job’.
Some of the biggest obstacles in becoming a freelancer full-time are the incompatibility of your characteristics with the needs of the job. Simply put, if you don’t have what it takes, freelancing will wear you out fast. The twelve other reasons freelancing may not be for you is if:
9. You’re Easily Distracted and Can’t Organize
It’s not multi-tasking when you are being pulled away from the real work. Try to remember that the next time you feel like answering your personal email or social networking messages in the background of your project. And since it’s a one-man (or woman) show you’re running here, you have to be well-organized to cover all aspects of your business.
(Image Source: Dave Granlund)
10. You Can’t Prioritize
Sometimes you have to work on multiple projects at varying levels of each project. Not only do you have to keep track of each project’s milestones and deadlines, but you also have to know how to prioritize. If you are already having problems prioritizing chores, tasks and deadlines in your full-time work or daily life, freelancing is not for you.
11. You Can’t Brand yourself
Apart from negotiating well to your advantage with clients, you’ll need to know how to market or brand yourself before you get them knocking on your doors. That’s how you seek out future projects. Be reminded that you will have to constantly update your portfolios with your latest work to showcase the rise in quality and the value of your services.
12. You Don’t Know your Self-Worth
To do point 11 properly you also need to know your self-worth. This will make it easier for you to negotiate for a sum that can still pay the bills and still not scare away potential clients. Set a reference point for the value of your work and it will make it harder for shrewd clients to take advantage of you.
13. You Don’t Love Your Work
It’s the same with any job you hold; if you are loath what you’re doing, you’ll have a hard time doing it for the long run. When you’re a freelancer, this passion for your work is even more crucial. When love is lost, it’s easy to lose direction and become complacent with the delivery of your work.
14. You Are Not Good with Money
Freelancing is like a business: the income does not come in consistently. Some times it pours, other times, you suffer from a dry spell. Either way, you need to make sure that you put aside part of what you have earned. You are your own safety net.
15. Your Attitude Towards Work Is Minimalistic
If you’re considering taking up the freelancing role because you think it’s ‘easier’, you’re going to have a bad time. To maintain your value and competitiveness in the freelancing market, you’ve to keep perfecting your craft and can’t afford to be complacent. Minimal efforts will work against you in the long run.
16. You Prefer to be Spoon-Fed
One thing great about regular corporate jobs is that you just got to stick to whatever protocols that’s already laid out by your predecessors. However, if you’re setting up freelancing services for yourself, you are the boss, and you have to be more proactive – whether you like it or not.
17. You Want Your Clients to Follow Your Style
As a freelance designer or blogger, you may have adopted or created a certain style for yourself which you may even enthusiastically market to potential clients. However, the reality is that some clients may want to have more say over the design or the post. You’ll need to be able to agree and disagree (with reason) from time to time.
18. You Wait For Inspiration to Come
With deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines, you can’t afford to lie in your bed and stare at the ceiling, hoping that inspiration will come a-knocking. Having self-discipline and the passion to always perfect your craft can help you stay creative and at the top of your game. Remember that mediocrity is not an option for freelancing.
19. You Lack Patience
Whether you’re a freelance designer or blogger, amendments or redrafts to your masterpieces is a given. You’ll be redoing your pieces under the direction of your clients or simply making changes to them over and over again before you can finally submit your final pieces. Either way, you’re set for a lot of frustrations so it will be helpful to practice patience in your craft.
20. You Give Up Easily
Lastly, as it is with most things in life, your efforts will truly pay off only if you persevere. You can’t quit after a couple of setbacks, especially during the initial stages, when it’s more likely that things will not go your way. In any case, if you are a quitter, don’t bother starting. If you want to start, don’t give quitting a single thought.
So what’s the final verdict? Are you up to make the transformation to a partime or full-time freelancer? What is your biggest concern about letting go of your 9-to-5?
Share your thoughts :-)