One of the attractions of freelance work is the flexibility to work as much as you want. There are many workers who freelance part time, perhaps alongside conventional employment. But freelancing as your sole source of income is a big step. Many workers find independence and fulfillment, but it can be a tough road.
This fall Noah Rue suggests four questions to consider before you take the “leap” . He asks four very personal questions:
These are great questions.
On the first question, Rue warns that going independent out of boredom or to escape an undesirable gig could be a mistake. Full time freelancing is hard work with plenty of boring and undesirable stuff. It’s not utopia.
The second question is not about work-life balance, though that will be a challenge. What he is talking about is essentially incorporating yourself, to create a clear separation of accounting for work and personal. This includes opening bank accounts, filing paperwork, and stuff like “paying yourself”. This amounts to a lot of “unglamorous, unpaid activities that come along with the money-making stuff.”
Plan? I don’t need no steeking plan! In addition know why you want to freelance, you need to understand how you are going to make it work. What expenses do you have to meet, how much money do you need, where will the money come from and go to? When you go independent there is no one other than you to handle all this stuff.
And finally, are you prepared to actually do it. Sell yourself. Face rejection and conflict. Long hours. Ideally, you’ve done some freelancing so you have some experience. But when you are 100% in and you lose a big gig, that’s disastrous and potentially psychologically crippling. And you have to get really good at selling yourself, and also making good deals. It takes skill and discipline and a certain amount of thick skin.
The reader may detect that my own answers to these questions are pretty much “no way in the world”. I have never been tempted to “leap” to freelancing, and I think Rue’s list really clarifies some of my most critical hesitations. I had financial planning and paper work, I hate selling myself, and so on. No wonder I haven’t wanted to go independent!
Now, Rue phrases this move as a choice, “If you decide to go full-time”. Unfortunately, many freelancers can’t get enough gigs to be full time living wage. And others might have lost other jobs and have nothing other than freelancing to earn money. And, of course, in many industries, conventional employment is nearly impossible to find, so freelancing is the only option.
So I sincerely hope that you do have a choice in the matter.
But even for those who are forced by circumstances to go freelance, Rue offers some sensible guidelines for things you’ll want to do and do well.
- Noah Rue, 4 questions to ask before you begin freelancing full-time, in Freelancers Union Blog, September 24, 2020. https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2020/09/24/4-questions-to-ask-before-you-begin-freelancing-full-time/