10 More Reasons Why Freelancing Is Not for You

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Your Turn

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


  1. says

    Morgan & Me Creative–That’s pretty much what it was intended to be. Freelancing is awesome and so are most freelancers, but there’s always a small group who think it’s an easy way to escape real work. Unfortunately, those are the ones who wind up giving the rest of us a bad name and then quitting freelancing.

  2. says

    Very good post! One of my unlikely sources of inspiration is “Tabath’s Salon Takeover” on Bravo TV. These people aren’t in trouble because they’re bad hair stylists. They’re in trouble because they don’t know how to run a business. I find a lot of business wisdom in the lessons she teaches.

    Being a freelancer is running a business. If you’re not ready to handle the responsibilities of finding your benefits, tracking your income, expenses and taxes, marketing yourself and finding your own work, you shouldn’t start.

  3. says

    Hi Catena Creations!


    I’m not familiar with “Tabath’s Salon Takeover.” :) I’ll have to look for it. You’ve got the picture though. It’s all about running a business. If you have no business sense, then you’re not going to make it.

  4. says

    That’s a very good list. I especially like the first one about social life. It seems like a lot of freelancers don’t think about this aspect when they consider freelancing and quitting their job. Their major concerns are money, benefits, getting clients, etc. You need a more holistic viewpoint when you look at a lifestyle change, and I think your points cover them very well.

  5. says

    I agree with all of the items on your list, Laura. I’ve seen some people hang out the freelancing (writing) shingle without any real experience holding down a traditional job for an appreciable amount of time and who love the idea of “being a writer”, but produce work riddled with mechanical errors and problematic issues. One in particular had a public website evaluation and the expert told her to correct her apostrophe issues as well as some other serious issues, but she still makes the same errors and didn’t correct most of the issues with the website. It’s a recipe for failure.

  6. says

    Thanks Samantha!

    Good points. It’s true that many people are attracted to the perceived freelancing lifestyle without having skills or experience. I think it’s important for prospective and current freelancers to remember that this is business. If you are unsure of your skills, try a mock interview of yourself. Would you hire you?

  7. says

    Great list. Lots of people don’t get all this when they start freelancing and have problems later. Although, some of list items, like #1 matters in start but later when you have subcontractors, local clients, local assosiates, etc, you can get almost same feeling when you work in some firm.


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