Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag: Is Freelancing Really For You?

Letting the cat out of the bag
Freelancing and working from home is a dream to many. Designers, bloggers, social media experts and many other careers that didn’t exist a couple years ago have now become a comfortable means to earn a living for some.

Freelancing sure does sound great, but ask anyone who has been doing this for a while and they will tell you that the cons are usually higher than most anticipate. Sure, you get to take a break anytime you want. Working in your pajamas sounds great, but the stakes are much higher than most imagine.

In this article I want to look at some of the downsides of freelancing, and take a sobering look at some realities that every freelancer needs to confront.

Never a Guaranteed Income

This may not be true for some, but for most this is the case. Ask any freelancer and they will tell you that one of the biggest cons of working from home is the uncertainty of it all. There are a few freelancing gigs that offer a consistent income, but working from home is usually one of those deals where you can go from rich to poor within days.

If you’re single you can survive on the bread and butter, but if you have a family to feed make sure you do the research before you dive in. Remember to look into the future not just the present — you might be able to earn thousands this month but once the contract is over it’s back to the basics.

Life On The Web Can Be Lonely

Most freelancers are dependent on the internet. We all know that networking on the web is all about social media these days. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others all have started replacing the need to hang out at a coffee shop, and Friday night bar outings are frequently replaced by podcasts.

No matter how much fun it is to socialize on the web, real life socialization is important, and often difficult to find as a freelancer. You will have less opportunities to just be around people than you would at an office. The reason being that your participation on the social web directly affects your business and we can’t let the business die. Socialization on the web isn’t only a matter of choice when working from home, it becomes a necessity, an integral part of your work — but there aren’t too many socialization opportunities at home.

Time, The Devil

Seriously, managing time while working from home is one of the toughest aspects of freelancing. If you are single you might not have a lot on your plate, but anyone who has family knows what I am talking about. When you work from home there are expectations and you might feel a heightened sense of responsibility. Kids running around, nagging relatives, or a couch potato spouse might make the job even harder.

Many freelancers end up working late hours since they are so tied down with household responsibilities and other things that you can usually avoid if you work in an office. Time management isn’t an easy task and many freelancers fail to manage time effectively. This can cause problems not only in your work life, but in your personal life as well. This is one of the key things you need to analyze before you jump onto the freelancing bandwagon.

Different Roles, Different Outcomes

Being a great designer or an awesome writer isn’t good enough when you decide to become a freelancer. A freelancer has to be the best in a lot of other fields. For example, you may be the best designer out there, but what’s the point if no one knows about you. You need to be a good marketer too.

Whether through social media participation or a campaign of some sort, you have to be able to sell yourself to the clients. Freelancing isn’t about being good at one thing, it is being good at many things. You have to be the productivity guru, financial planner, a good salesman, smooth talker and above all the best damn time manager there ever is. Freelancing is about putting all of your eggs in one basket and making sure they stay in there.

Too Much, Too Little

If you are a freelancer, I am sure you can relate to this. One of the things most freelancers battle with is what to charge and whether to charge hourly or by project. If you are a designer, you can either charge by hour or the finished work. Same thing with writers and other freelancers.

It’s a thin line between getting that dream job and losing it because of pricing. Ask for a higher amount and they might bail out, ask for less and they might think you are not good enough because it’s lower than industry standards. The biggest problem arises when you take on a job and find out you are actually charging way less than you should be for what you have been doing. You will go through a lot of different stages when freelancing, and trust me, most of the time you never get out the “too much or too little” situation.

What do you think?

What do you think? Are you ready to be a freelancer? If you are a freelancer, do you agree with what I had to say? Are there any other difficult realities that I missed?

Share your thoughts in the comments.