Freelancing full time holds the promise of an independent life. You can think of freedom to work when you want and how much you want and wherever you like. You would no longer be answerable to anyone and have to justify or explain or have someone tell you to do something against your wishes.
That is the promise, right? But is that the reality? If you have done some freelancing on the side or if you are really sick of your job and want independence, should you now switch to freelancing as a full time career?
The answer is Don’t do it before you know what I am about to tell you.
Discipline is hard
A 9 to 5 job forces work hours on you. Most offices force a work environment. But if you are on your own, you would most likely be working from your home. And there would be no office hours which means any hour can be an office hour. Your family, kids, even simple things like a doorbell can end up being massive distractions. And not everyone is built with self-discipline. Most people are prone to procrastination. And when you are entirely on your own, with a dozen different things which can distract you, delaying your work may seem inevitable.
It may get to a point where you feel most of your day is getting wasted and you are not getting anything done. Remember Discipline is hard. So overcoming distraction and being productive will need careful planning and lots of discipline, be up for it.
Winning Projects isn’t easy
Every Freelancer has to look for new clients. And If you are just starting out, getting a job with the competition is not easy. There are literally thousands of articles online about creating a cover letter or a proposal. If you aren’t a natural salesman, it can seem tough. And seeing competing freelancers offer $3/hour services will be frustrating, even demoralizing.
Of course, this is part of the game. And mature freelancers quickly learn that projects are won by quality work and not by abysmal rates. But it’s part of the learning process. So be prepared for the long game. There are clients who will pay you top dollar for your time, but you will have to grind to reach them.
And some clients are shit
Yes you will meet them. Depending on how you approach work, you may meet less or more. But meet them you will. People who will have no respect for your time and who will change the scope of work after you spent hours or days working on what they said they wanted.
The key is to learning to say NO. And harder still is being able to fire clients. Again, it’s part of the process. But be prepared that you will find shit clients. And you will have to learn to identify them and deal with them.
There are no fixed paychecks
This can get to some people. A fixed paycheck is what gives stability to many. And the knowledge that what you will earn is entirely dependent on what work you do can sometimes be scary. There WILL be lean periods and there might be a week or weeks where you have made no money. If this scares you, then you are not up for it.
Ideally you should always have spare money in the bank. I make a mental calculation of how many months worth of money I have. That gives me security. So before you jump in, I recommend that you should at least have 6 months of backup money.
Depending on your gig and your country, you will have to write contracts and possibly consult your lawyer and accountant. There will be paperwork to fill for taxation and other purposes. You might decide to incorporate or not but there will loads to worry about other than your actual work.
The above was not intended to discourage but to prepare you. A danger foreseen is half avoided. I have been freelancing for 12 years now, 6 of those full time. If I could go back, I would make the transition to freelancing quicker than I did. I took a long time to quit my job and get into full time freelancing. What I said above was what I have learned in several years. A full time freelancing career, if implemented wisely, has unlimited potential. So be prepared and do it better!
If this helped you in any way, let me know in the comments. I have only just started this blog and your response will let me decide how deep I should take this. Ultimately I want to bring value to someone’s life. If you are worrying about any specific topic about freelancing, please ask and I would take it up in detail in a future post.