Should You Freelance in a Recession?

Most economists have decided that the United States and even some European countries are in the midst of the worst recession in decades. No matter what you want to call our current economic situation, though, almost everyone agrees that these are difficult economic times.

Many workers are facing the loss of jobs or underemployment with a subsequent cut in income. Many current freelancers are seeing their income from client projects dwindle. Many others wonder – could freelancing be the best solution to my financial problems?

I have to admit that freelancing has been good to our family. Freelancing gave me the flexibility to be at home when my children were young. Freelancing allowed me to be available for my sick father before he died. Freelancing provides our family with a nice amount of money each month to add to the family budget.

Is freelancing the best solution to your financial problems? Should you freelance in a recession?

The answer is not simple. Whether or not you should decide to start or continue in a freelancing business in the current economy depends on many factors. The best answer to the question of should you freelance in a recession is this: it depends.

With this answer in mind, I’ve come up with two lists of questions that may help guide you in deciding whether or not freelancing in this economy is for you.

The first list is for those who have never freelanced before. The second list is for those who are currently freelancing.

Should You Start Freelancing in This Economy?

  1. Do you have a marketable skill?
  2. Do you have access to the proper equipment and tools to exercise that skill?
  3. Do you have a set amount of time each week that you could dedicate to freelance projects?
  4. Are you comfortable with promoting (basically selling) your abilities?
  5. Do you have enough discipline to work unsupervised?
  6. Are you well organized?
  7. Do you have savings? (Particularly important for those considering full-time freelancing)
  8. Do you have a means of providing yourself and your family with benefits such as health insurance? (Particularly important for those considering full-time freelancing)

Should You Continue to Freelance in This Economy?

  1. Is your current freelancing income meeting your expenses?
  2. Do you have a “pipeline” full of potential clients, or have your leads dried up?
  3. Do current clients seem satisfied with your work and are they willing to recommend you to other clients?
  4. Do you have savings for the lean months?
  5. Do you have a means of providing yourself and your family with benefits such as health insurance?
  6. Are your work equipment and tools up-to-date?
  7. Are you happy with the freelancing work that you are doing, or does each project leave you feeling drained?
  8. Does freelancing make you feel lonely, or do you thrive in a self-driven environment?

A Few More Points About Freelancing

Many people look at freelancing as an either/or commitment. Either you are freelancing or you are an employee.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Outside employment and freelancing are not mutually exclusive. If you have enough time to dedicate to your freelance projects, you can work for someone else and still take on freelance projects.

Furthermore, freelancing is fluid. That’s one of the great advantages to a freelance lifestyle. It’s quite doable to spend time freelancing, move to a full-time job, and then move back to freelancing when it suits you.

In closing, I’d like to add this: the dynamic of freelancing in a troubled economy can be completely different than the dynamic of freelancing in a booming economy.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you recently turned to freelancing on a full or part-time basis? How is your freelancing business doing in this economy?

What questions would you add to the lists above?

Image by Ed Yourdon