On this blog, we normally encourage people to become freelancers. That’s because we believe that for many people, freelancing offers a terrific combination of great opportunities and a great lifestyle.
However, there are a few individuals who just aren’t cut out to be freelancers (and that’s perfectly okay).
In this post, I list some characteristics that I’ve observed over the years of former freelancers who ended up returning to traditional employment. Most of these folks were quite miserable as freelancers. If you see several of these characteristics in yourself, you may want to carefully reconsider whether freelancing is really the right choice for you.
Freelancing May Not Be For You If…
In the past we’ve shared a few of the drawbacks of freelancing, but sometimes you’re just not right for freelancing.
Here is my list of possible indications that freelancing isn’t right for you:
- Your only source of socialization comes from work. When I tell people what I do for a living and they realize that I work from home the most response that I receive is “I could never do that–I’d miss my co-workers too much.” Of course, if you really want to freelance there are many workarounds to the loneliness problem, but if you completely depend on your job for your social life freelancing may not be for you.
- You’re much more comfortable when someone tells you what to do. Let’s face it. Not everyone is a self-starter (and that’s perfectly okay). Some people prefer to have someone who gives them directions to follow. If this is you, you probably won’t enjoy freelancing very much. As a freelancer, there will be no direct supervisor. You will be responsible for your own work.
- You like to have very regular hours. While freelancers can and do set regular business hours, nearly every freelancer that I know departs from them occasionally. Whether it’s to meet a deadline, to handle an overload, or simply to upgrade your website–freelancing overtime (at least some of the time) seems to be a fairly standard practice.
- The only reason you became a freelancer is because you hated your job. Hating your job is not really a sufficient reason to become a freelancer. It’s possible that you were in the wrong job, or that you were working with someone who was unusually unpleasant. (If you think freelancing will allow to avoid dealing with difficult people, think again.)
- Your personal finances are a complete disaster. If you can’t handle your personal finances, why do you think you could run a small business (which is essentially what freelancing is)? While you don’t need to be an accountant to be a freelancer, keeping good financial records is a must if you are to succeed.
- You always do the absolute minimum that you can do and still get by. There are many jobs that don’t require much of their employees. Some employees prefer this type of work and look for fulfillment through hobbies and other interests. However, if you cut corners or try to coast by as a freelancer your customers will probably leave you for someone more diligent.
- You really have no idea what you’re good at doing. One of the basic requirements for freelancing is that you have a marketable skill. If you have no idea what you’re good at doing (no marketable skill), then you will have a really difficult time as a freelancer. It may be a good idea to try out a few traditional jobs to see what you can do before you freelance.
- You are looking to get rich quick. Freelancing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, no matter what the scammers may tell you. For the most part, the overnight success stories are months (and sometimes years) in the making. Every successful freelancer that I know worked very hard for their success. If you are considering freelancing as a shortcut to wealth you are bound to be disappointed.
- You think of freelancing as passive income. You dream of relaxing pool-side while your freelancing business rakes in the cash–but for nearly all freelancers this is not the reality of freelancing. Freelancing takes a lot of effort. Even if you set your business up as an agency and outsource much of your work, you are still ultimately responsible for what your business produces.
- You can’t control your temper. As I mentioned earlier, freelancing requires a great deal of self-control. The freelancer who is subject to fits of anger (and displays that anger to clients or publicly through social media) may have trouble staying in business. Freelancing actually requires you to be able to listen calmly and courteously to customer complaints and gripes without lashing out.
Of course, most of these characteristics have a workaround or solution for someone who is really dedicated to the idea of becoming a freelancer. However, in my experience, those individuals who aren’t cut out for freelancing won’t even bother to try those workarounds.
Can you think of any other indications that freelancing is not right for an individual? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image by quinn.anya