We’ve all sat there at one point or another and dreamt about storming into the bosses office on a Monday morning and quiting our jobs or what we’d do if we had our own company or worked for ourselves, etc, well, that’s where freelancing can help!
Freelancing, in a nutshell is basically working for yourself and being self-employed. It allows you not to be committed to any particular company or individual and allows you to work on your own terms – sounds perfect eh…woah, woah, woah….lets look into the pros and cons first….
1. Choosing when you work
Not having to make your way into a (full time environment) office every day, allows you to have complete control over your time. You get to choose when you work, where you work and who you work with. No rules on being clean shaven, no office dress rules, no set lunch breaks, no annoying colleagues who just won’t leave you alone, no matter how many hints you give them and then get you into trouble even when it was their fault and you……errrm…anyway, where was I….
So no set rules mean you get to control your working day – for example, are you the type of person who gets up early, completes all their work by lunch and then takes the rest of the day off? – awesome! Or how about the having the whole day to yourself, then working all through the night – go for it! Whatever is best for you, as long as you get the work done, that’s all that matters really…
2. Choosing where you work
With freelancing, you can also choose where you do your work. Whether it’s at your home, at various locations across your local area (i.e. a cafe, wi-fi hotspot, etc), rented office space or even sitting on a park bench while sunbathing, it doesn’t matter, as long as you get the work done.
When choosing a location, take into consideration any distractions that you may encounter at that particular location (i.e. right now, my neighbours have the worlds biggest skip outside their house which, for the past week, they’ve been filling up on a regular basis with the loudest materials known to man)
3. Choosing what you work on
One of the biggest drawbacks of working full time for a company is not getting to choose what you work on – you basically get given the work, you complete it and that’s that… But, with freelancing, you find your own clients, therefore, finding your own work.
Prefer designing logos? Web banners? Cartoon sailor monkeys?* Brilliant, aim to just work on those. Freelancing allows you to have much more freedom; you’re free to choose who and what you work with.
* No? …..oh, just me for that one then…
4. Making more money
Like anything, hard work is needed for freelancing to be successful. If you have the drive in you, there is no reason at all why you can’t make more money freelancing than if you were working full time.
As you’re not limited to working with one individual, you’re able to take on more clients / projects than if you were working for a company.
However, be aware of what you’re physically able to take on, one time of another, I’m sure all freelancers have made the mistake of taking on too much work and having to work every hour of the day to complete it all* (me included).
* Or in my case, working right up until I need to be on a plane for my sisters wedding and forgetting half of the things I needed for the trip…
5. Firing bad clients
When working full time for a company, if you get stuck with a bad client (we all know the ones I mean), you only really have two options; 1. deal with it and get on with the work or 2. leave your job.
When it comes to freelancing, look at each client as a separate source of income – therefore, if you experience a bad client (and unfortunately we all do from time to time) you can fire them before any work has been completed and any of your time has been wasted – simple!*
* There however will be times when work has been completed and this can cause problems, see below…
1. Guaranteeing steady work
Working full time for a company (assuming it doesn’t go out of business), you’re pretty much guaranteed consistent work.
As a freelancer, finding your own work, it’s never ever guaranteed. There will be opportunities when work is flowing in from all angles and every day is busy, but then they’ll be other instances when work seems to be none-existent.
My advice on this is not give up. If freelancing is what you want to do, then don’t let the quiet times get to you – you may have to start out offering free / discounted work, but this will normally lead onto paid opportunities.
2. Guaranteeing a steady income
Unfortunately, inconsistent work means an inconsistent income. With full time work, each month the company will pay your set monthly wage into your account and that’s that.
With freelancing, some months you’ll find yourself with a steady stream of quality work, whereas other months, your clients might not need you, or you don’t find enough work – unfortunately, this comes with being self employed.
My advice on this is simple. Aim to make enough money to cover your rent and bills each month, anything above that amount is a ‘profit’ – slowly over time, you will earn more and this shouldn’t become an issue.
3. Guaranteeing new work
When you have the work, freelancing is great. But as well as time spent creating, you also need to spend time finding new clients and work.
Working full time, the flow of incoming work is taken care of for you. You just design and that’s that.
My advice on this is to be self-motivating. Work will not present itself to you, you need to be proactive and sell yourself to people, prove you can do what their asking and always be on the lookout for work.
4. Guaranteeing more money
In an continuation of the above. If you aren’t finding quality clients and / or new work, you could potentially be making less money than if you were working full time.
My advice on this one is the same of the above. Be proactive and seek out new work on a constant basis.
5. Guaranteeing getting paid
Working fulltime for a company, unless financial problems arise, each month you’ll get paid your monthly set wage.
When it comes to freelancing, guaranteeing getting paid is a problem. Speaking from experience, you will always face at least one client who will use all the excuses out there to prevent paying you. I’ve heard them all; “the cheque is in the post”, “I’m having a few money problems at the moment”, “I’ll let you know once it’s been sent”, etc… if anything, it taught me to be vary of trusting people straight away and put a payment structure (see below) into place.
My advice on this is be prepared. Stipulate terms and conditions prior to undertaking work, make the client aware of how much the work will cost and when / how they are expected to pay it. Consider a deposit system (i.e client pays 50% of total cost before the work has been undertaken and the remainder 50% afterwards) – if the client still refuses to pay, there are plenty of websites out there which have advice on what to do next. Including small claims court advice.
So, should you freelance?
Yeah, yeah yeah…enough with all the pros and cons, is freelancing really worth it? In one word….yes!
Yes, you have to be confident, driven and independent but if your work is good, then they’ll always be people out there looking for your skills.