Being a freelancer seems like a dream job for many people. You are able to work from home (or wherever you feel comfortable), on your own time, choosing your own clients and making nice revenue in doing so. Freelancing is much more complicated than that and most people who try freelancing tend to give up after a few weeks because it’s not the nirvana they were hoping for.
Before heading into it, there are certain factors to consider, and without wanting to discourage anyone, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why freelancing might not be the smartest idea for everyone.
The most common argument in favor of freelancing that you can hear is that the working hours are flexible and that you can work whenever you feel like it. This is often far from the truth. Platforms such as Freelancer and Upwork have started using fixed hours and prices that apply hourly, meaning you can’t make more money than your work instigates.
In turn, the clients have become more and more prone to full-time employment of their freelancers meaning that your freelancing flexibility is down to what it was before you became a freelancer. Fixed hours may work for many people out there, but they are the same deal that you walked away from when it comes to your day job in favor of working online instead.
Experience and income
The biggest hurdle for anyone to overcome as a freelancer is the lack of experience on paper. While you can have years of experience in real life, your online portfolio says otherwise, and this means that you will struggle with finding your first clients. It happens to every freelancer out there and it’s usually what makes or breaks a freelancer.
If that wasn’t enough, more and more people are shocked by the income they make once their freelancing career has developed over a course of a couple of months. The revenue stream is far from ideal and nowhere near the four-digit numbers that you kept hearing about. While these numbers are totally achievable, it will take years of experience and hard work to get there, and not many people can afford the time and effort invested into developing their online career.
The working environment
Having a clearly defined working environment is one of the many struggles that freelancers to through. While the notion of working from home sounds wonderful, it’s often what drives people away from freelancing in the long run. People have a very hard time separating their personal and professional lives if both of them occupy the same space.
The separation sometimes becomes so difficult that people have to contact professional writers and outsource some of their work just so they can manage everything in time. And while these platforms are professional and you can check them out in the writing services list this is not something you should make a practice out of. There are far too many distractions all around us and it’s sometimes very difficult to focus on the work at hand. Some freelancers have opted for renting office space or working from their favorite coffee places, but one has to wonder where freelance work stops and becomes just like a day job.
Blurring the lines
What ultimately makes or breaks a freelancer is their ability to separate the two facets of their lives. Do you think you could juggle your professional and personal life if you worked from home and had zero definitive working hours or a fixed amount of work? Some people have a tendency to become workaholics and abandon their personal lives more and more often just because their clients are asking for more work that needs to be done as soon as possible.
The lines sometimes become so blurry that all the freelancers can think about is new work and checking their e-mails, often neglecting the fact that their family and friends are sitting right next to them. They tend to become nervous and agitated when they don’t receive more work or a compensation for their engagement. This is something that everyone should consider before venturing into freelancing waters because the psychological ramifications can be too much to bear for some.
Having free time
Free time is more than just having a couple of hours to take a walk or go out with your family. Like any other worker you need time off from everything and indulge in a yearly holiday or two, take a trip to see your parents or just take the kids out. Freelancers often can’t do any of it. Depending on your clients and the way your contract is constructed, you will sometimes have to be available 24/7 whenever your client needs something.
While it seems harsh, this is usually what many people consider “flexible working hours”. You can hop on the computer and get some work done every now and then but you will rarely be the one deciding when that will be. Having free time to do anything is very difficult for freelancers to manage, and it’s one of the most important elements to consider when thinking about freelancing.
The psychological effects
We have mentioned the psychological effects of freelancing before, but what does it mean in the long run? You’d be surprised to hear that freelancers are very prone to nervous breakdowns and stress due to their “always available” lifestyle. While “being your own boss” sounds wonderful on paper, it’s rarely so when it comes to this type of work.
The toll takes on the freelancer is often very high since the person becomes easily agitated, nervous and stressed in anticipation of more work or new e-mails from the client. Depending on the type of client, this can have even more severe effects due to some clients being relentless when it comes to working. They like to bait new and inexperienced freelancers into working for very little payment and often leaving them emotionally distraught and confused, causing them to leave freelancing altogether.
Effort and self-respect
The most important question you need to ask yourself is “Can I see myself as a freelancer?” While it does seem logical, many people fail to question their decision and think nothing of it. Is freelancing something you would be proud of or is it something your friends and family would laugh at you for?
The amount of time and effort you will put into learning new skills (freelancing is a constant learning cycle) will be worth it if you want it to be, but what will the ramifications be for your personal life? How will your family, spouse, and friends treat you if you go full freelancer and don’t look back? The way you feel about yourself is the most important aspect of this entire ordeal. If you feel comfortable working from home and having very little say in when and how your free time will come or if you can take the stress and punishment that comes from learning from your mistakes – go for it.
Being a freelancer is far from the sugar-coated dream that everyone keeps talking about. While it’s certainly possible to become a successful freelancer and live fairly decently from the income, it will take far more patience and effort than most people would give it. Consider all the factors before heading into freelancing and forgetting about your day job – take it one step at a time and discover the territory yourself. You might just like it in the end.