15 Reasons Why I Utterly Refuse to Give Up on Freelancing

freelance
Freelancing is hard.

Not only do you have to face feast and famine cycle, do everything yourself, struggle to maintain a good work/life balance, and have a plan in place for emergencies–you might have to deal with difficult people.

Whew!

Is it any wonder that some freelancers fail?

We’ve already explained why freelancing may not be for everybody.

I’ll never give up on freelancing, though, for reasons that are personal, professional, and people-related. Here’s why I won’t give up:


5 Personal Reasons I Won’t Give Up on Freelancing

A small confession–I feel bit guilty about my personal reasons for loving freelancing. I hear my non-freelancing complaining about all of the points below (regular hours, traffic, buying work clothes, tiny cubicles, etc.) and I feel a bit guilty and selfish for having chosen a life for myself where I don’t have to wrestle with these problems any more.

Here are five personal reasons that keep me freelancing:

  1. Setting my own hours–Even though some companies have adopted “flex-time” for employees, most companies still maintain a core of hours when you are expected to do your work. As a freelancer, not only do I get to decide when I work I also get decide whether I work. If I need a day off for an appointment or just for fun, I take it. No need to get a manager’s approval.
  2. No commute–Commuting is a double whammy. Not only does it take an hour or more out of your day each and every working day, you also have to pay for the privilege by either buying gasoline or purchasing a public transportation pass. Don’t even get me started on the stress that heavy traffic can add to an otherwise peaceful morning.
  3. Shopping during the day when lines are small–Most of the working world runs errands during the weekend or tries to cram chores into their lunch hour. No lines for me, though. I make a point of buying groceries during the day when practically no one is at the store. Likewise, when making appointment with my doctor or my accountant I avoid the popular lunchtime or late afternoon times.
  4. No dress code–While I’m not one to sit around in my underwear or my pajamas, I do appreciate being able to wear jeans and tee shirt (or sweats) to work every day, if I want to. Not only is it more comfortable, it’s also easier on the wallet. (I do maintain a few more professional outfits just in case I have to meet with a client in person, though.)
  5. Control your environment–For years, I did my work from a variety of tiny little cubicles (usually about 8′ by 8′, sometimes smaller). Most of the time, I had no window to look out of, There was absolutely no way to keep from overhearing conversations and phone calls made in the next cubicle. Now, I have the quiet I need to perform and a nice window to look out of every once in a while.

5 Professional Reasons I Won’t Give Up on Freelancing

Not only has freelancing been good to my personal life, it’s also been a boon to me professionally. In many cases, I think that freelancers grow professionally more quickly and are more knowledgeable on a wider range of topics than their corporate counterparts.

Here are five professional reasons that keep me freelancing:

  1. Choose the best projects–When I was an employee my boss assigned my work to me and no matter what it was, I did it. It didn’t matter whether it was challenging or even whether it was a bad idea, my work was chosen for me. As a freelancer, I do the choosing. If a project doesn’t challenge me or seems like a really bad idea, I don’t have to take it.
  2. Set my rate–Employees have one good chance to negotiate their income–that’s when they’re hired. After that, pay may be revisited (usually annually), but it’s unlikely to change much. Freelancers, on the other hand, have complete freedom to determine how much they earn. They do this two ways: by choosing their rate and by choosing how many hours to work.
  3. Fewer meetings–Companies are known for holding long, unproductive meetings that they require their employees to attend. While you may not be able to completely avoid meetings as a freelancer (a few clients will ask for them), you can limit how many you must attend. It’s particularly easy to get out of an unneeded meeting once the client realizes that you are charging them for it.
  4. Learn new things–If you’re like most freelancers, your work varies depending on what your clients need. You also have a prime incentive (getting new projects) to keep up with technological advances as they occur. These factors mean that you’re probably going to learn more new things as a freelancer than you did as an employee.
  5. Can’t get fired–Alright, an individual client may reject your work or even take you off a project once you’ve started, but you’ll still own your business. While that experience may hurt, your other clients will probably still stick with you. Plus, you’re still free to continue to seek out more work.

5 People-related Reasons I Won’t Give Up on Freelancing

The top reasons why I stick with freelancing are probably people-related, though. Freelancing gives me the life-balance freedom that I crave in order to balance the demands of my career with the needs of my relationships with the people around me.

Here are five people-related reasons I’ll never give up on freelancing:

  1. Quality time with a child–Freelancing allows me to spend quality time with my children. Even as I type this, it is spring break and I will be taking some extra long lunches this week in order to interact more with my child. Freelancing also allows me to pick up my child immediately after school and I can take off a day to chaperone a field trip if I want.
  2. Care for someone who is ill–Shortly after I began freelancing my parents became critically ill. When needed, my flexible schedule allowed me to work mornings (and sometimes late nights) and spend afternoons in the hospital. When my dad moved to hospice, I took off an entire month just to be with him before he died.
  3. Time for friends–While I often take a short lunch or eat at my desk, several times a month I make it a point to take long lunch and meet with someone (usually outside of the freelancing world) from my personal social circle. These “two hour lunches” would probably be frowned at in a company environment, but personally I find that I return to my work refreshed.
  4. Time to help others–Do you have a cause that you care about passionately? I’m a big believer in volunteerism and the freelancing lifestyle gives you the freedom to structure your schedule so that you can spend time on the cause you love–whether that cause means volunteering at your local soup kitchen, saving the environment, or rescuing a mistreated pet.
  5. The people you meet–Last, but not least, freelancing is great because of the people that I’ve met. What can I say? From my clients to my readers here on Freelance Folder to the peers and friends that I’ve met through social networking–you’re all great and you keep me going. I would not have met you if I had stayed in the corporate world.

What About You?

What keeps you going? Share the reasons why you’re still freelancing.

Leave your answers in the comments.

Image by grrphoto

Comments

  1. says

    Great points Laura. I am sure most of us share the same reasons why we won’t give up freelancing.
    Another point I want add is that some people don’t have other option but freelancing. While they’re doing great as working for themselves, would be unemployable otherwise.

  2. says

    I really like freelancing due to the various nature and requests of each project. I also have a full time job because, frankly times are uncertain and moon lighting seems alright.

    When I was freelancing 100% it was great – I would wake up early, make a cup of tea, bagel with cream cheese and work at a very stress free leisure.

  3. says

    I’ll admit it: being in control of my own work schedule and environment is crucial. I’ve had a few 9-to-5 jobs, but once I started freelancing full-time, I just haven’t been able to go back. I took on a temporary (two weeks) assignment where I had to go into a client’s office and work there and I was miserable through the whole thing. I’ll be sticking to running my own business, thank you!

  4. says

    Like just about everyone reading this article, I’m sure, I’ve gone through good times and bad times as a freelancer. However, even though I’ve gone through bad times, I can’t see myself ever giving up on it. I love all of the different projects and learning experiences that come with freelancing. Making your own schedule is great, especially, when you have a 4 yr old. :)

  5. says

    Great post, Laura. I can relate to you. I’ve started freelancing full-time for 2 years already. And I’ve learned a lot of things and still learning. I would say it’s very exciting, challenging and never a boring thing. You’ll get to meet more people, create new proposal, market new product. And it gets more fun and exciting if we have a team or work with other freelancers also. :)

  6. says

    Hi Lucian–That’s an interesting point. I’m not sure what you mean. I do understand that freelancing can be a real boon to some, especially those who are disabled and might have difficulty commuting. However, I do resist the notion that freelancing is full of folks who are somehow inferior to those found in the corporate world. (I’m not sure if this is what you meant.)

    Jordan–How long did you freelance? I’m not sure how it is for others, but my freelancing seems to be busier than ever.

    Thursday, I can totally relate. Well, maybe not totally… I haven’t taken on any temporary assignments that required me to work inhouse lately. Still, I LOVE being able to control my schedule. I’ve had several independent contracting opportunities to work 9-5 at a client’s site, and I’ve turned them all down for that reason. If I had to, I think I could do it–but, not my first choice.

  7. says

    Cha, you and I must have been posting at the same time! :-) I agree that freelancing is never boring.

    Chad–Freelancing is great if you have a child and need the flexibility to work around their schedule.

  8. says

    Wow, that just makes me want to work harder towards full time freelancing. Time and time again I’ve just been so impressed with the freelance community. Something I want to be a bigger part of. Thanks!

  9. says

    Control. Of my schedule, my time, my environment, my income. Call me a control freak, but the reason I want to freelance full time is so that I get to decide. Like Michael, you have inspired me to work harder!

  10. says

    Since I’m a freelancer-hobbist (I have a daily job), I could, in fact, think of 5 reasons why I don’t want to go into freelancing all the way and drop from my daily job:
    1. Fear of not being able to pay taxes + earn a living (sick market where people want “something like microsoft.com” for 1/10th of the actual payment for such project)
    2. hmmm…
    3. well…
    4. yyhmm..
    5. Working for someone else is so much more secure…

  11. Deb says

    #1: Freelancing allows me to earn a living while working around my social phobia, my generalised anxiety and OCD. Trying to hold down a regular job as an employee failed me for 10 years (I’ve had over 30 diff jobs), of which 8 years were spent heavily medicating and a total of 1,5 years of hospitalization (spread out over those 10 years).

    Yeah, so not going back.

  12. says

    I have being doing freelance for 15 years. Before that I was a Sales Manager for a big company, I was good at it but…..I was missing something. Today I can not imagine another way of life. Like all those who remain long as a freelancer I´ve had ups and downs, but the final reward is worth it.
    And other thing, I´m not really sure that working for someone else is really more secure, in fact today many friends have a lot of stress for loosing their jobs and have no other financial support

  13. says

    I was just talking about this with my husband the other day. I think I knew I wanted to freelance full-time even when I was in college, but still took a few full-time jobs before taking the leap.

    I remember being miserable Sunday nights and Monday mornings on the way to work. The fact that I’ve never once felt that way since working for myself is what keeps me from quitting. I’m always excited to work, and have learned so many things from clients in a variety of industries. If I had to think of a dream job, this would be it.

  14. says

    I agree, I’ll never go back to a full-time job. I enjoy my freedoms too much :) Today I’m going to take a longer lunch to go on a walk in this nice weather and do some gardening. Then I’m going to the bookstore cafe to work in there for a few hours on the lappy to get out of the house….change of scenery is one of my fav things about freelancing.

  15. says

    Woot, love this post, Laura!

    I’ll never give up on freelancing because it is such an awesome adventure. It has taught me to have more faith, be more courageous, and embrace all my passions.

  16. says

    Travel, travel and more travel. We spend much of our summers in flux and love it. Also, I adore my two school age children and can give to them fully when they arrive home at 330. I feel finacially secure and intellectually stimulated, yet I’m also the book fair mom/room mom/PTO mom. Just best of all worlds. I love this job.

  17. says

    Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? Though freelancing is more difficult than just drawing a paycheck from an employer, the benefits and perks that come along with it are too many to ignore!

  18. Stelian says

    Currently I am fully employed but considering going freelance. I’m a mobile software developer and, while there’s a lot of contract work out there, almost all of the companies want me to work on-site. The problem is that I can’t quite do that, as I am living in Switzerland and the large majority of those contracts are in the US or UK and I have a family (2 small kids) that wouldn’t want me to leave home for long periods of time.

    So I was wondering if there’s somebody else in the same position and if yes, how do you handle it? Did you try to convince those companies to let you work from home?

  19. says

    Very Nicely put..
    I am sure different people will be having different reasons for freelancing or starting their own biz..
    Its the freedom to make my choices in projects, ideas, time and of course most importantly the freedom to learn different aspects of one particular thing – be it business, public relation, people interaction,finance, skill enhancement, design and development lured me into freelancing and finally starting my own biz ..

  20. says

    I agree, with most. Freelancing at home is the best. Although there are a few days where I catch myself talking to the dog too long :). What keeps me going , is picking up work at studios through recruiters and networking. Sometimes i need a week or two away from the house and more socialization with others. Its a great way to freelance and spread your name!

  21. says

    Wow!

    Thanks to everyone who commented.

    I used my freelancing flexibility today to take my child to the dentist. It’s nice to come back to all these like-minded commentators!

  22. says

    I love the fact that you wrote this post. I haven’t seen anything like it before. Great points, self-ish or not, they are true! Hopefully one day I will be able to freelance full-time.

    Great post!!!

  23. says

    Hey, that was interesting notes and facts about freelancing.

    Cheers from Malayian Freelancer :)

    p/s: To Jon Philips, I’ve follow you about 2 years now. First I know you at Mybloglog 2008.

  24. says

    This is such a positive article – I love it. Freelancing is a wonderful adventure. I think the hardest part is self-discipline… but I’m working really hard on that one.

  25. says

    Great article but I think the most interesting part of freelancing is getting to know such a variety of different businesses and how they work – essential if you are creating a website for them. This for me is something I’d really miss if I worked for someone else.
    I’d agree with the last comment that the hardest part is the self discipline and focusing on what you are doing arther than watching other people.

  26. FL says

    Mann..love this article.

    It makes me wanna go out there a start freelancing myself! I’m one of those guys who has thought, and still is thinking a lot about taking the big step and go on freelancing. But the economical situations scare me.. especialy because of the crisis and all…. so i stay in my regulair job as a designer…

    … but i realy want to do it! go freelancing!, but i can’t…. or can i?

    hahaha.. if someone has some tips for me, please share :)

    nice article

  27. says

    Along with the shopping during the day to avoid the lines (which I do all the time), I also like to make my appointments during the day (even hair appts) so I don’t spend my weekend doing errands. It’s worth it to me to get them done during the week, even if I have to work a little later, so I can do anything I want to on the weekend.

    Great list! It reconfirms why I love freelancing so much!

  28. Kenny H says

    I already started freelancing while I was still in college. Biggest advantage is that I’ve build up a reputation and a nice share of clients when I graduated. I’ve had one client who wanted me to work at his office, I didn’t mind I loved the idea he had so I agreed. But after 3 days I had to drag myself out of bed and to the office already. I just can’t work in a regular office envoirement. I’d never give up freelancing for all the reasons mentioned above. I love to work in my own envoirement, where I can look outside or take a break to get some fresh air whenever I want.

    Next to that, have you guys (and girls ofcourse) ever noticed that most office envoirements are like really grey? It sucks all the creativity right out of you. I have a nice clear white room, a lot of windows, some colorful canvas photos and most imported a door to my garden.

  29. says

    While freelancing is really the only viable option for me right now I still wouldn’t do it any other way. I love the flexibility, work-life balance that corporations talk about but cannot really provide, the every day challenge and the creative freedom you have when you work solo. I’m not seeing myself going back to “regular” job ever.

  30. says

    I’ve been a part time freelancer for quite a number of years but it wasn’t until I recently lost my job at a multinational record company that I decided to go out and indulge in it full time and I have to agree with all your reasons here.

    I love my time as a freelancer, business owner, but i’m still striving for those days off, long lunches and flexible hours, I work just about every hour I have at the moment, haha

    Great post

  31. says

    Laura – This is a BEAUTIFUL post! So well articulated. You’ve nailed all the reasons why I will never go back to working for someone else.

    I completely agree that being a solo professional is the best way to grow both personally and professionally. Going solo FORCES you to become better. To get out of your comfort zone. To be smarter with your time and resources. To set loftier goals — goals that scare you.

    And as the motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, the value of goals is not reaching the goal. It’s what you become in the process of going for that goal.

    We’re here on this earth for a very limited time. And I’m proud to know that I’m making the best of this great journey through freelancing!

  32. says

    I love this post! Honestly, maybe freelancing isn’t for everyone, but I can’t imagine life any other way. Generally, the money’s better, you can do what you want, when you want and I can stay in bed all day or work at the beach or on the road… that’s the best part :)

    Also, I really do think that’s where our economy is headed – more and more people working for themselves. Honestly, my business hasn’t suffered at all due to the economy. If anything, I’m offered MORE projects because companies can’t afford to hire full time employees with benefits, but the work is still there. Hence, outsourcing.

    So I doubt you’ll ever have to actually give up on freelancing ;-)

  33. says

    Nice! I like this! I love the freedom I have with freelancing. I agree with every bit you say. Additionally, for me it is
    1. the time I get to travel for leisure.
    2. ability to multi-task – that really keeps my creativity up!
    3. gives me time to persue my fitness goals (which most people working in offices cannot afford to stick to – I mean, taking a break every 2 hours to get a drink or a snack must be taboo in a formal office? Let alone the fact that I keep munching carrots & drink lemonade through the day.)
    4. When someone invites me someplace, my answer is mostly ‘sure’… It allows me the time to be there for my friends.

  34. says

    Thanks everybody for the validation!

    FL, many freelancers start out as part-timers. If you want to try it, but don’t want to quit your day job that might work for you. Best wishes!

    Kenny H–YES! I have definitely noticed the gray corporate walls, often combined with dim lighting. When I was in the corporate world there were days I didn’t sunlight at all due to those gray walls and no windows in my cubicle.

    Ed Gandia, Thanks so much for your encouragement. Freelancing DOES indeed force me to be more thoughtful about where my career is going.

    Marian–I do know that freelancing isn’t for everyone. Some folks are more comfortable in a traditional environment, and that’s okay. I agree with you that much job growth in the future will be from those who struck out on their own and made their own careers independent of any company or organization.

  35. says

    I refuse to give up freelancing because i can “move my office” to the warmer country when the winter hits. Or to the beach itself if i’d be able to atually work there :D

    And because i can earn twice or three times as much as i did in my former job.

  36. says

    Nicely written, Laura. You have said it all, I guess. What I love about freelancing is that you can focus more on doing the work than on useless office gossips.. not to mention, the ‘office politics’ that can be stressful to your very sanity. Cheers!

  37. says

    If you’ve ever had the pleasure of surfing you know that you have to have a flexible schedule to be able to take advantage of the swell when the ocean calls. Freelancing offers me the ability to do this. We’ve also been homeschooling our kids for the last 10 years which provides freedom as well. Yesterday I took my two boys surfing with me during “lunch” and spent some time together out in the ocean. They might think it was “just another day out surfing with dad” but as it was happening I was realizing that this is what ilfe was about – being a dad with his kids, no stress, no cubicles. It was almost a spiritual experience. Freelancing forever! Aloha from Hawaii! Kaala

  38. says

    Agree with most of the points.

    Personally, i believe that time is the key of everything, kill commute time, have a flexible schedule, time for the kids, …

    For me freelancing is, being the master of my own destiny, as simple as that. I need to have control of my own life, by my rules.

    I am sure that everyone has it’s own small thing that will keep them keep moving on freelancing, mine is this one.

    Thanks again Laura.

  39. dp0 says

    Great article, and some just as great comments. I’ve noticed that I’m leaning more and more towards freelancing full-time, but there are quite a few things still holding me back.

    I enjoy the security of having a full-time job – not having to worry were my next paycheck will be coming from

    It’s also the largest con on the freelance side of the list – the fear of not getting enough work
    I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t have the clientel to go solo. This has always been the biggest of my problems, reaching out to those potential clients. The projects, the client relations, the follow ups, frankly all of what comes after initial contact is stronger than the actual reach out in my case. But thanks to helpful posts like these, I’m steadily improving!

    So thanks once more for the great read!

  40. says

    I first like to say freelance folder heavily contributed in my freelance success and is greatly indebted to all its members. I will never give up freelancing because it’s my way of expressing my self and it truly makes me happy.

  41. says

    I like that this article is not like the rest where it’s all the challenges and hardships of freelancing. I think it’s important to stop and reflect back on the pros of freelancing. Nice post.

  42. says

    Very inspiring post for those of us who are currently employed 9 to 5. I’m new to this blog but have quickly realised what a gold mine of content it is so thanks for that!

  43. says

    i use a freelancer who now lives in Isreal, he used to work for me and was always good, but now lives far away with his girlfriend. He’s now kicking out som efantastic work and is real busy, but it hasn’t always been like that, if you want the work you have to go and find it.

  44. says

    great post Laura! I’m freelancing for the same reasons, although I’m under a little stress right now but I have a good feeling about next year :)
    One thing that keeps me away from a corporate job is that I can’t stand the office politics and having to kiss a bosses’ ***
    lately I haven’t been enjoying the freedom that freelancing offers though but I promised myself to go out more in the new year and walk on the beach everyday.

    I wish you all a happy new year!

  45. says

    I have being doing freelance for 15 years. Today I can not imagine another way of life. Like all those who remain long as a freelancer I´ve had ups and downs, but the final reward is worth it.

  46. says

    Hi. I have been a freelancer for more than 3 years. I can say that I love my life. I can schedule my works and projects around my family. Sometimes they will sleeping at night while I work but the most important thing about this job is that I enjoy my family every single day. After all that is what really matters.

  47. says

    This is a great post, Laura! And I am happy that you already enjoying yourself and these reasons. I am looking at going on freelancing yet, I don’t have the courage to do so. It seems pretty easy but I know… and I sure that to start is not really that easy. Do you have any tips for me so I can find the courage to get out of the corporate job? I am tired. Really, really tired!

  48. says

    This is a great overview, potentially even a source of motivation for why people should get into freelancing or resist the urge to go back to the 9-5 if it’s not yet working out.

    It definitely takes some time to adapt to the time discipline, lifestyle, self-reliance etc, but as you’ve pointed out the rewards are there and well worth the effort.

    Great article!

  49. Deanna Walker says

    I love this article. It is truly inspiring. I am currently an elementary school teacher, but I love to write! I was wondering if you could provide any advice/information for individuals looking to venture out into freelance writing. Thank you so much!

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