The Fear of Freelancing: Why You Could Be Hurting Yourself

217849066_f011b26437_oSeveral months ago, I wrote up a six month plan to become a freelancer. Even though I thought that this plan was pretty rock solid I still got several commenters who mentioned they wouldn’t start freelancing.

Why? Not because they loved their 9-5 jobs or because they thought the idea of running their own business was a bad one–but because they were scared. Several people asked the same questions over and over:

  • “How much savings did you have?”
  • “How did you pay your bills?”
  • “Weren’t you scared to leave your guaranteed paycheck?”

Thousands of people who have the potential to make it on their own don’t and they don’t for one reason–fear.

The Myth of the “Guaranteed” Income

Most people say they don’t want to make the jump into freelancing because they’re afraid of leaving their job. After all, their job gives them a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks, right? Unfortunately, this mindset is misleading. Income from a full-time job is not any more, and in some cases actually less, guaranteed than freelance income.

Especially in today’s volatile market, a full time job doesn’t guarantee you anything beyond the work you’ve already done for that week. It used to be that you could find a good job, show up and do passable work, and then get paid for the rest of your life. Nowadays though, you could be the best designer, writer, developer or whatever, but if the company no longer has the money to pay you–well you could be let go tomorrow.

So why wouldn’t you want to control your own business to ensure this doesn’t happen to you?

The Fear of Fear Is Anxiety

I’ll let you on in a little secret. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. I hate conflict and I’m scared of fear. However, for some reason, this anxiety does not enter into my business at all–in fact, it’s allowed me to see why my personal anxiety is ridiculous and has helped me towards recovery.

What does this have to do with you? When you tell me you want to start your own business, but are afraid of losing your house, bills or whatever–you’re experiencing anxiety. Don’t let this fear consume you or you could be stuck in that job you hate for the rest of your life.

The Fear of Being Poor

Anxiety phobes in business and personal situations focus on one thing–fear. They avoid doing something because they want to avoid that fear of the unknown. I’m going to talk about a touchy subject here–the idea of being poor.

When I was leaving the nest to start off on my own, I was scared. I was scared I would be a failure and would live in a cardboard box. I’d say that’s probably a pretty common fear for any college graduate, right?

However, I realized that I could never be poor if I truly didn’t want to be poor. Sure, I could be fired from my job and be temporarily broke–but I would always have the drive to make sure I would never live in a cardboard box. This is a good kind of fear that motivated me to be where I am today.

This could be you too. If you truly have the drive to succeed, you’ll never be a failure. You may figure out a couple of ways something shouldn’t be done–but eventually you’ll find the right way. You’ll never be poor because you’d do anything it takes to not be poor. Temporarily broke is a situation. Poor is a mindset.

How to Get Over this Fear

While my fear of being poor became a motivator for me to succeed, it can also go the other way and be a demotivator. If you decide not to take a risk or try something because you’re afraid it will make you poor, then that’s a demotivator.

The first thing you should do is to try to figure out your worse case scenario and then the likelihood of it actually happening. What’s the worst case scenario that could happen if you leave your job for freelancing? That you had no clients, work or money coming in right?

Let’s analyze that fear. Let’s say that six months after you started freelancing, you still have no money coming in. Bills are starting to be overdue and your wife/husband/kids are getting angry. Okay, fine. So go find another full-time job. It’s not the end of the world.

Think about this–what’s the likelihood of you actually going six months without any work? If you sit at your desk everyday and play on twitter, it’s a pretty high chance you’ll fail. If you actually push yourself to be where your clients are on the web, to make contacts and to work while you have no work–it’s a slim chance you’ll fail.

Stop Making Excuses

Freelancing is not a scary thing. In fact, I’d almost say it was pretty easy after the first two months. That’s not to say it didn’t require a whole lot of hard work, but I don’t have a business, financial or marketing degree, but I still figured it out.

Some people tell me they’re saving up money to freelance. That’s okay, but if you’re still saying that after a year, then you have an excuse, not a plan. Some people tell me it’s “not the right time.” Okay, so when is it the right time? Did you know that more small business are started in recession times than in times of plenty?

It’ll never be the right time, you’ll never have the right amount of money and the weather will never be perfect for freelancing. If you really want to do it, do it now.

Have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? In the beginning, it showed a very intelligent upper class family who were waiting for the perfect time to have a baby. First, they got good careers. Then, they were saving up for a house. Then, for money for the nursery and then they waited for the perfect time. By the time they were “ready” to have a baby–they were too old to make one. That will be your business if you wait too long to start it.

I’ll let you in on another secret–I didn’t do anything the freelance books told me to do. I quit my job on a whim one day (thanks to my anxiety) and I had zero savings, zero clients and not even a proper desk for my laptop. But, here I am eight months later and I have so much work, I’m booked for a month and turning away people. Of course, I could still fail six months from now, but then I’d just try again–or get a job somewhere. It’s not really that scary!

Your Turn

How did you get over your fear of freelancing? Or, are you still stuck in that fear? What are you really afraid of?

Image by Capture Queen ™


  1. dp0 says

    Quite a good read, really gave some interesting views on things “from-the-other-side”. I’m right there in the too-scared-to-do-it situation, and frankly it’s just one thing holding me back. Clients. What if I don’t get work, with so many talented designers out there, what chances do i have of being noticed?? This is my main concern, i don’t doubt my skills or my dedication.

    Which is why i’ve wanted to make the transition gradually. Keeping my 9-5 and doing some freelance work on the side. But that’s just as tricky, finding enough time for everything. I don’t have time to look for work the same way i would as a full time freelancer, thus i get less work, and that again fuels the fear of not getting clients – would i make the transition…

  2. says

    I think the best way to overcome your fear is to realize that in the current climate working for yourself is the safest job out there.

    You can be fired any minute from your 9-5, this happens everyday these days as we all know. Your salary or hours can be cut any minute. And you have very little, if any control over those things .

    Working for yourself means that you can control what’s happening with your career. Of course, freelancing may mean less stability but look at the paragraph above. Is full time employment any more stable these days?

    On the other hand, working for yourself is not for everyone and not everyone should do it.

  3. says

    Hey Amber, very nice read. If I continue to read all this FF/WA/FS stuff as I do, I’m gonna become freelancer since I’m gonna get fired. :D

    First I don’t have fear and excuses, or we can say that I don’t have them. But I have million “What if?”s. I question myself that much on some issues, that I am really not fond of fully giving up on my 9-5 (mine is 8-4 tho).

    There are several financial factors. Do you own your place, do you have mortgage or any other way of paying for your apartment. It’s known that people who do not own their place fully, prefer to work 9-5. Their place cost them up to 30% of their income and that’s something they have to make otherwise they gonna end up on street. Do you live solo, in couple, married + children or live with parents? Well I have friends that envy privacy I have with my wife but they live in same big house with their parents, so they don’t pay for rent/mortgage they don’t pay full bills, they always have parents to keep an eye for their kids when they need to go somewhere and so on… Don’t even want to mention cooking for several people like our mothers love to do that saves up a lot of time and money when done good for 2 families instead of one.

    Then we come to guarantied income factor. Do you have several prospective clients to start work for them as soon as you start freelancing? Or you gonna start swimming in the see of much bigger fishes? I experienced people in agricultural production who stay at their products and production no matter their products sell cheap and without big demand. But they sell. For those people there were much more profitable cultures to seed, but they didn’t want to explore new opportunities and fight in new markets. But, whenever they get retailer or factory willing to contract and buyout their new production, they will switch their production for sure.

    And yes, I understand that 9-5 is not by any meaning guaranteed paycheck. But people are sometimes lazy and 9-5 have bigger chance to be paid for not doing anything, and just doing what you’ve been told instead of doing stuff on your own.

    Sorry for length.. it’s something that provokes me a lot…

  4. says

    You should all watch Dune or read the book “the fear is the killer of the mind…”. Fear is good. This is my second year of freelancing, and it still happens to have slow times. On that time, I work harder to get in more work and most of times, I increase my income motivated by the financial insecurity.

  5. says

    I generally agree with this article. Personally, I’ve done some freelance on the side while holding down a full-time job. That was nice until our whole unit was recently fired, due to financial cutbacks. (Funny, the idea that full-time work is stable went straight out the window.)

    This forced me to really step up my effort to find clients in a hurry. I had no more time for fear (or deadbeat clients) because I have a family to support. I needed serious clients. This firing kicked me in the rear. I no longer had time to fool around with folks who want a little something for nothing.

    On the other hand, I agree with the previous comments about the fact that not everyone is really cut out for freelancing, and there are serious questions to consider for certain types of people. I, for one, am a person who had serious questions that needed to be answered, and didn’t feel cut out to do it. But, unemployment is a real motivator.

  6. says

    There is no one definite formula on how to start out on your own.

    But here’s how I started:

    1) Have a six month salary as security blanket
    2) Once you save that amount of money, means you already have some clients
    3) Make sure you have a portfolio website (this is your 24/7/365 sales man!)
    4) Quit 9-5 and start freelancing

    I used to worry that my current clientele will stop giving me work, turn out this was true. But little did I know I made even more connections than I had imagined. Your clientele will never stop growing, unless of course you do bad work and give a bad service.

    As the saying goes, “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”. No one can see the future, just take the plunge (of course with calculated risk), it may be difficult but the it can be rewarding.

  7. says

    @Ivan Those what if questions are exactly what I’m talking about when I say people let the fear of “what if” in life hold them back from doing what they want to do. While freelancing may not be for everyone, if you think it’s for you, you shouldn’t let what-if hold you back.

    Yes, I pay a mortgage, I have student loan bills, a car loan and other bills just like everyone else does. Other freelancers I know have kids to pay for as well. It can be done, and is done quite often.

    If you spend your life asking “what-if” you’ll never accomplish anything. What if you don’t make enough money to pay bills? Well then you can always go find another 9-5 job. Equally you could start what-ifing everything in life: “What if i fall down the stairs? “What if I crash and die in morning traffic?” “What if I choke on this cereal?” Do you see how unhealthy that gets?

  8. says

    I was very afraid to start freelancing full-time. The fear went away when my sister passed away this January. I realized that I had to at least try because life is fragile and short. I am leaving my 9-5 job at the end of May, and I will be freelancing full force!!!!

  9. says

    Fear both sucks and rocks at the same time…

    Fear sucks because it holds you back with imaginary “what if…” statements and leads you to imagine all the horrible things that would happen. It creates a false security blanket, and oh, it’s so comfortable to hold onto it.

    Fear rocks because it motivates you to do things you may not do otherwise.

    It’s not wrong to have fear, but you’re doing yourself a huge disfavor by giving in to the fear without fighting back.

    I’m not a full-time freelancer, and I enjoy my 9-5, but I’ve done plenty of freelance projects on the side of my 9-5 job and I’ve learned a few great things… I’ll mention two that are more relevant to this post.

    First, the money comes easier than you’d expect if you put forth the effort (and get over your irrational fears).

    Second, when the client pays, you get it all…that’s right…the whole shabang, which means instead of working for someone else at $35/hour you get all the money at $150/hour (and even after taxes, you come out ahead). Being the man is much more profitable than working for the man.

    Cheers! Now go out there and kick some butt!

  10. says

    A wise woman once told me, “when there is no work, paint your house.” It works, the moment you crack open the paint can to embark on this household task, the next client will come rolling in.

  11. says

    That was a good input, but maybe you forgot to add one thing: people nowadays are willing to pay almost nothing. In the current year, I’ve received around 15-20 freelance work offers, and 4/4 of them, clients asked to get the work for free, and the other quater was willing to offer no more than 100/200 bucks.

    So yeah, it’s something to be worried about, although as you said, we should not be lead by fear. I try not to fear about this, but I have not gotten any interesting freelance chance this last year (well, at least here in my country, things are fucked up… I’m in Spain).


  12. says

    @Mario That’s not true. While there ARE lots of people unwilling to pay much or anything…there’s always been these kind of people so it’s nothing new. The trick is not to charge hourly. Know how long a project is going to take, then charge a flat price. If people heard I charge what I charged an hour, they’d freak. But when I tell them a full site’s coding, that takes me maybe 3-4 hours to complete, is $900, they happily pay it. That’s not to say I’m ripping any of my clients off. I know several developers who charge this much or more for their sites, but it takes them longer to code. If I charged hourly, I’d work myself out of business because I code so fast (and get faster each time)

    There’ll always be people who don’t want to pay for anything. Leave them for the kids and cheapos. There will also always be people willing to pay for your price and more.

  13. says

    LOVE the comment about being “temporarily broke” vs. poor. I totally relate to that. There are definitely ups and downs and the fact that I started my freelance biz 2 years ago with barely anything in savings (and a wife and two kids) has allowed me to experience first-hand much of what you discuss in this post. Fear can be completely paralyzing, especially when you are the boss. Learning to look past that fear is what makes freelancing work. Great post, Amber!

  14. says

    This article comes at a perfect time in my life. Thanks, Amber! I had a meeting with friends last night and it basically consisted of me giving my pitch of “why I should be freelancing only.” They both reassured my fears and gave me the “just do it, you’ll succeed if you want it” motivation that you mention above.

    Keep up the good work!

  15. crazywabbit says

    Nice article, however lately i have been reading too many of these wonderful glorious feelings one get from being a freelancer. What I think it is important is that not every person who becomes a freelancer will be happy. It all depends to your luck, who will be your first, second clients, how word of mouth spreads if it does and many more factors that will make one say how wonderful it is to be doing this. I think we all should be realistic about our expectations. You might have a great first year or 2nd year but then things might go sour, or you may have a few years with nothing to smile about and then something at the end. It is not a cut and dry solution for anyone to become a freelancer. If it was majority of population on earth would be working from home.

    Otherwise nice article.

  16. says

    @crazywabbit If you have that mindset, then that’s how things will work out. If you believe your business success is due to “luck”, than you’re more likely to experience downtimes. Yes, I have downtimes, but they’re usually good things, a week or two of a much needed break after working insane hours. You shouldn’t rely on “luck” for business success or you’ll fail. Do you think Steve Jobs was lucky? I don’t think so. I think he made his own “luck” and worked hard and believed he could succeed – so he did. We might not ever reach that status, but we’ll never fail if we understand we control our own success.

  17. says

    I appreciate your thoughts here. Fear does tend to immobilize us even though we still must have a plan. Several friends of mine who had jobs until recently thought I was crazy for freelancing; however, it turns out that a couple of them worked unpaid through several pay periods due to financial woes in their company. My income is not much less insecure than having a “regular” job.

  18. says

    Thank you Amber,

    I would like to add that it is ok to fail, because you only fail if you try :D Also, failure teaches more than success, so if you fail, you will be more experienced for the next time and / or another 9-5 job.

    Thanks for this post, it is really encouraging!!!

  19. Susan says

    This is a great article!!! You highlight everything I think about whenver I think of quitting my God awful dead-end job and go freelance. Thank you for answering a lot of the questions I have running in my head!

  20. says

    My opinion is different. I suggest to do freelance part-time at the first time. By this way a new person be familiar himself with freelance activities. And when he will get full confidence then he should leave his 9-5 job and be a full time freelancer.

  21. says

    At first I enjoyed freelancing. But after two years, it still doesn’t pay the bills and I am burned out on working seven days a week. There are definitely things I would have done differently, like focusing on a niche earlier. And do not allow yourself to work seven days a week! And, trying to balance a half-time day job with freelancing is harder than it might sound. If I were doing it again, I would try to find a job with an agency first to get some training from more experienced web designers.

    My customers love me and I’ve got a good process down in some ways. But building great quality sites takes me too long and despite a lot of study and practice, I haven’t been able to figure out how to do custom sites cheap and fast. I have no idea how you can design and build a custom site in 3-4 hours.

    What really got me is some of my colleagues who have been doing it longer and appear outwardly to be successful, cannot afford health insurance. To my judgment, that is not a successful business and I have to wonder if the business model works very well for people.

  22. Abbey Fitzgerald says

    This is a very inspiring article. Thank you for writing it. Working for someone is no guarantee of a safety net, so you might as well try to make one for yourself.

  23. says

    Another inspiring article Amber. My greatest obstacle to giving up the 9-5 and going full-time freelance is an upside-down mortgage. In the meantime I’ll continue to work on improving my skills, trying to pick-up side jobs, and saving up a six-month safety net. Stories like yours make me believe it can be done – thanks!

  24. says

    If you keep working, learning and improving there’s really no way you can fail. Of course it is WAY easier said than done but if you’re around other freelancers on Twitter then you know there are plenty of other freelancers just killing it.

    Thanks for the motivator!

  25. says

    @NorthK I don’t do any design work, I just do development. And the average homepage/subpage takes me 3-4 hours, but no more than 6-8 to code. What are you charging? You could be pricing yourself out of work by charging too little!

    Also, not that I want to get into politics, but I normally don’t believe the argument “I can’t afford insurance”. Do they have some cars? Some shiny toys like a big screen tv or ps3? If they really can’t afford health insurance, where have they been looking? Have they looked at one place and then gave up? I find that it’s more often the case that they chose not to afford health insurance, rather than actually not being able to afford it.

  26. Chris says

    This is a fantastic and inspirational post. I have a 9-5 web design/development/photography/illustration/e-marketing/social media/whatever else my boss wants me to do and I am paid the level of an entry level intern at many companies. I suffer from the fear of failure you point out and reading your post makes me see that the fear is unrealistic and if anything, I am failing at my job now by not leaving.

  27. Jenny says

    Great article.

    I gave my 4 week notice at my job a few weeks back, and couldn’t be happier about my decision. Within a week I’ll be 100% freelance. Woohoo!

    After moonlighting with my freelance job for 2 1/2 years, it was definitely time to make the leap. I’ve spent those two + years getting things arranged in such a way that there wouldn’t be as much fear when this time came. I thought this time wouldn’t come for another year or two, but here I am, with just a few days left of the old 9-5 and really, I’m thrilled. I feel like I have my two feet firmly on the ground and everything is set up just as I want it. I’m sure there will be ups and downs but I’m prepared for that.

    I read an article today about small businesses “waiting” for the economy to pick back up..and I think that “waiting” was the key term. Don’t wait for business to pick back up, work hard to figure out what you can do to get business to pick up by working hard, learning new skills, etc. etc.

    Ok, that’s the end of my rant!

  28. says

    Great post Amber!

    I think you’ve touched on a nerve here for a lot of freelancers and would-be freelancers.

    Speaking from personal experience, I know that I hesitated way too long before starting my freelance business.

    Thanks for sharing your own experiences with the fear of freelancing.

  29. says

    Some useful insight in this post Amber
    I can definitely identify with parts of it.
    I have a full time job at the moment, but I might do some freelancing one day too. One thing that I am working on in my spare time is building a passive income stream. So, if I ever did lose my job or started freelancing, I would have some money coming in from other sources. This would help to remove some of the fear of not having a steady income.

  30. says

    I really enjoyed this article, thanks!

    Once I’d like to freelance, I got some money saved too, but my fear is “am I skilled enough to do that”? I can chop designs to XHTML, I enjoy that doing for myself, but I don’t want to do it again on a daily basis – I already did that for a couple of years. So I’m fulltime programming now. I like to learn, but I don’t think my programming skills are good enough to start freelancing (way too big piece of cake). Besides being among other programmers help me to learn more qucikly.

    I’m stuck. :)

  31. says


    freelancing is just like any other job. Once you assume the responsibility of your work, there’s really no difference between this and a regular job. So I think you could be a little more confident and see that the others are just like you. They’re not better for having had the courage to start freelancing…


  32. Kennyh says

    Ofcourse the fear of leaving a fulltime job with a stable income plays a significant role in the decision of starting a freelancing career. But then again fear is good thing in this case, fear of not having any income as a freelancer shouldn’t hold you from it but help you be a better freelancer. Being afraid of having zero income will push you to work harder and find clients instead of just waiting for them to find you.

    Although I never worked a fulltime job in my life, I started freelancing during college, I can imagine it’s hard for someone who’s used to a 9-5 job with stable income etc. The most important thing for a freelancer in my oppinion is being able to network, socialize, sell yourself. When I graduated I wasn’t the only one who started freelancing from my class but currently I’m the only one still doing it. I wasn’t afraid to approach potential clients or ask for work when I started freelancing. Nowadays I don’t have to search clients anymore, I’ve build a reputation and know how to keep my clients satisfied.

    Sure, we all have fears but these shouldn’t hold us back from doing the things we want to do in our lives.

  33. Niubi says

    There’s a lot of different ways to make a freelance income, not all necessarily on the internet! The key is to do your research and decide what your specialty is before taking the plunge. If you think about it, the monetary aspect isn’t the most important – so long as you’re making a living wage – it’s about the freedom to be one’s own person. There’s plenty of affiliate networks out there for people who are into that kind of thing too, DubLi, eBay, Amazon…..

    …..go grab it!

  34. says

    Nice article, Amber. And anyone who references Idiocracy is OK by me!

    I didn’t have time to be fearful: When I quit my good-paying corporate job, my wife was a stay-at-home mom for our two kids under 5 and we had a mortgage. I’d known for about 9 months that I was bailing, so I’d saved up a good chunk of money, but that was a safety net, not for monthly living expenses.

    I also knew that I didn’t want to go back into another soul-sucking corporate job. I was committed to starting and running a business, not just testing the waters to see if I liked it.

    Bottom line, there’s no better way to light a fire under your butt than to know that you have no choice.

  35. Dee says

    Great Article! I’m going to pass it around to my friends who ask how I got started, as it seems like you thought about it much more than I did. Thankfully it worked out okay, and I’ve been doing it for most of the last decade, except for a couple of times I took a full-time job that sounded too good to be true. I always come to my senses and return to freelancing however :)

    The best advice I can add is that every client you please, can mean 10 more down the road so remember the customer is ALWAYS right.

  36. says

    Great write, and awesome to hear from someone with a story so similar to mine. I quit my full time job of 4+ years last September because I stopped liking what I was doing and felt that doing web development on the side wasn’t going to grow into a full time gig. When I told my colleagues I was leaving almost everyone said “wow, in this economy?”. Really folks, this economy is probably better (or at least as good) as any other time to pursue your dreams.
    Congrats on launching your freelance career and I wish you all the success for the next 6 months (and beyond).

    Quick question, are you being nice to FF by not posting the entire article on your own blog, is it a requirement or am I unaware just ignorant of guest post etiquette? I don’t mind clicking through, just curious.

  37. says

    I’m a freelancer that is so busy I turn down about 1 job per day. The ecomony certinaly hasn’t damaged the freelancer business. I started out about 12 years ago by volunteering my time and making websites for friends just so I could get a portfolio started. I also worked part time until I was making enough to support myself. I had to occasionally borrow money from family during slow times but now I make enough to return the favor. I now mainly redesign sites that are crippled by previous designers and rank fairly high for a multitude of keywords which brings in a lot of customers.

    I have built up a large clientele and wish I could clone myself as I can’t find anyone who knows what I know – writing HTML and CSS by hand, SEO, hijacking, hosting problems, etc.

    My advice to anyone starting out is to familiarize yourself with problems people experience with their websites and write articles on those topics and let those bring you business.

  38. says


    Although this may just be an excuse. I don’t want to get caught in saying “i’m in debt, so i’ll never get anywhere” and using that as the excuse not to try. Not to develop my portfolio. Not to follow up the few but persistent leads I have banging at my door until they get fed up and go somewhere else.

    Anyone else had this as a reason for not getting into freelancing? What are your thoughts and what have you learned?

    Kick up the ass post :)

  39. AbbeyFitzgerald says

    Yes, I have sort of the same excuse of debt. hybrid756, I hear ya on the debt. I really want to be a freelancer because I work very hard and make about half of the average designer salary because I work in publishing. I do web on the side and think that is they way to go. I would not use debt as an excuse, but maybe freelancing is a way to get out of debt faster? You would make more money doing that I would think. I personally think developing your portfolio and web presence would be good, think of it as a way to get out of debt? How does that saying go…”do what you love and the money will follow”? I am trying to believe that.

  40. says

    Yes, I have sort of the same excuse of debt. hybrid756, I hear ya on the debt. I really want to be a freelancer because I work very hard and make about half of the average designer salary because I work in publishing. I do web on the side and think that is they way to go. I would not use debt as an excuse, but maybe freelancing is a way to get out of debt faster? You would make more money doing that I would think. I personally think developing your portfolio and web presence would be good, think of it as a way to get out of debt? How does that saying go…”do what you love and the money will follow”? I am trying to believe that.

  41. says

    I’m an independent consultant, and I’m coming up on my 9th year in business for myself. I’ve had some spectacular years and some, like last year, that I’d love to give back. Overall though, I know that I’m more responsible for my success than when I was living off the dime of a daily employer. How many times did I lose a job not because of me, but because the organization wasn’t stable? Enough for me to realize there’s no such thing as stability, but lots of opportunities.

  42. says

    In my case freelancing was unintentional. I was about to head off to grad school and had already left my job. I was contacted by a company that kknew me to do a project as a 1099 contractor and through grad school and 3 countries I am still working for them. Through word of mouth I have picked up other projets on the way. I thought of getting a job and when was about to be offered I started thinking…NO!!! Don’t give me the job! I like working freelance! It’s tough but it can be more rewarding!

  43. says

    This last year with the bad economy has been my busiest ever. I can’t get caught up and I turn down about 1 job per day. Most of my site traffic comes via articles and tutorials I’ve written concerning web design. I think people are trying to set up their own websites now due to the bad economy and looking for help and then give up and hire me because of my helpful articles (don’t put capitals in file names, content duplication, stolen content, website hijacking, stolen domains, keyword ranking, etc). I rank at the top for a plethora of keywords related to the articles I’ve written. If you’re having a problem getting clients write more articles that will help others with ranking problems.

  44. Steve says

    I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are a bunch of people in this world that work freelance. Pretty much every time you sit down to watch a reality television show, or any show for that matter, everyone, besides the owners of the company, are free lancers. The camera men / women, the production assistants, the coordinators, producers, every single one of those jobs is a freelance gig. Once the show finishes shooting, those camera men/women have to find their next gig. Its not scary at all, you just have to be good at what you do. I have been working freelance for awhile now, I love the down time, but I also love working…. its a win / win situation

  45. says

    If you want to be a freelancer, ask yourself this question:

    Can you wear multiple hats?

    You will spend much time marketing yourself, doing business work, dealing with legal stuff etc. Do you want to do it? Are you a person that enjoys those things, or would you rather avoid them? Is your only fear the fear of unknown?

    @dp0 As @Mahmud says the transition is the safest choice. And the beginning is the hardest part. Don’t give up.

    @Pawel Couldn’t agree more. Things are not like they used to be. People that worked with a lot of clients/companies are valued more than people that spent their entire lives working for one company.

    The jobs are very unstable nowadays. It is inevitable that you will be searching for work, regardless of if you decide to be a freelancer or not.

    @Ivan If I were you I would start saving up and start working on some projects on the side. It is true that it is much easier to start if you live with your parents and don’t have kids or don’t pay the bills. The younger you are, the safer it gets. You also have much more energy. But there are people that have still done it. @Kerry and @Dave have done it.

    People that are not passionate about what they do should not take the plunge. You need to be extremely motivated and self driven.

    @Ben Also agree. It is much easier to react to unexpected than plan for it.

    @Shevonne I am so sorry to hear that. When something horrible like that happens, all other fears become less important. I wish you luck.

    @Angel What I would is that if you don’t have work it is still important to keep yourself busy! Start your own projects, work on open source or teach somebody. Gain more experience while extending your network.

    @Mario Those are the type of clients you should avoid. You should inform them about the average rate in your country and if possible back it up by some 3rd party source.

    @scottdot and @Jenny I am looking forward to see how it is going for you. Please share it with us.

    @crazywabbit While the demand might be exceeding the gross supply, the people who provide good service are always wanted. It is all about how good you are. @Lori just said she turns down 1 job per day.

    @Cesar You need to fail 10 000 times to get good at something. And we are still afraid of failure. It doesn’t make sense.

    @Ollie The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.

    @Dee Good advice. Never lower your quality for the sake of production.

  46. rjm says

    Fear is always there when change is involved. The thing to keep in mind is to remember the fear from the last time your life went into upheaval and how you emerged on the other side. I recently left a very very secure job at a college to take a position in the biz world. I’ve had many people ask me why I would do such a thing in a down economy. It’s simple really, I didn’t like the way things were headed and I realized I had a choice. I had changed employers before, although there was an adaption period it always worked out. Besides I’ve always had my side freelance projects to fall back on. I don’t advertise, I don’t go looking for work but it finds me by word of mouth. Recently I’ve been thinking about freelancing full time. The reason isn’t so I could set me own hours or so I could work from home. The reason is being in control of my own destiny. Working for someone else does have it’s perks but your employer will not look out for your best interests to the degree that you can do so yourself. I keep thinking that if I spent the same amount of time working for myself as I do my employer I would be better off. That’s not to say I dislike working for my current employer, I do. It’s just that I see the vast discrepancy between what I am paid and what others would charge my employer to contract out the same work I do. It’s a sizeable, lets say incredible difference on the magnitude of well over 20x my current salary. Of course i would have expenses but in the web design/development field the primary assets you need is time, skill and knowledge. With my employer I plan out my own work, no one ever has to crack the whip. I’m proactive finding solutions to problems my employer didn’t even know existed. When someone comes up with a problem they are trying to solve, for instance via the company intranet I always take the solution at least a few steps further than they requested. So I think, why not set up shop and do the same thing I’m doing now for businesses that can’t afford or really need someone like me full time, but could sure use my skills on an as needed basis. I’ve worked in finance and sales and was successful at both, so what am I afraid of? I’m afraid of cutting the umbilical cord of the paycheck that arrives in my bank account every other week, that is the one and only fear. I’m workign on it.

  47. says

    This article has some good insight. As a freelancer myself I know that it is true that you can not depend on work always being readily available so I do keep a regular job and always have other back up options. Thanks for sharing.

  48. says

    I’ve been freelancing for over a year now. Living in NYC this is no easy task but I’ve been very fortunate. But now my bills are growing and staying a few months ahead of them is getting harder. I definitely feel a bit scared. But I think that fear is what pushes me to work harder and get me the work to take care of my family.

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  50. says

    The Fear of Freelancing: Why You Could Be Hurting Yourself | FreelanceFolder Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!


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