I love being a full-time freelancer, but it would be a stretch to call it a total dream job. For example, a lot of luxuries you don’t even consider as an employee aren’t included in the full-time freelancer package. Worse, many of the things that you may think of as benefits of being a freelancer can actually be negatives. Here are 6 aspects of being a full-time freelancer that aren’t always positive or true.
1. You create your own schedule.
You’d think being a full-time freelancer means you have total control over the hours you work, but that’s not exactly true. Your clients are probably going to want to call you or at least correspond via email, right? Well, they’re likely doing a more typical workday, which means in order to talk with them and to not leave them waiting until the next day for an email, you have to be available to them on their schedule. And, even if you do get to pick your own hours, that might not be as appealing as you think. A 9-to-5 workday offers a sense of structure, and an employer monitoring your progress means you will definitely be at least semi-productive. There are no such guarantees as a full-time freelancer, which could get you into big trouble.
2. You work independently.
Sure, you don’t have to deal with annoying co-workers, but every full-time freelancer should know that when you’re working on your own all day, every day, things get a little lonelier. Try to attend more career events to get the chance to network and look for opportunities to socialize more often with non-work friends. Be warned, though, that those friends are probably on a regular work schedule. That’s another reason you might want to work during the common work hours, too, even if you pick your own hours.
3. You get paid more for being productive.
Usually as a full-time freelancer you’re getting paid per assignment, not for working a certain amount of time. That means productivity pays off. The quicker you complete an assignment, the more you make per hour. Which sounds great! But you probably underestimate how many hours you’re not being productive at work. Make sure that the rate you charge clients is sustainable enough to compensate for the time you’re not working on assignments.
4. You’re your own boss.
Being your own boss is a dream that never really comes true. Whatever their title, your boss should be the person who’s paying you. If you’re a full-time freelancer, that probably means you have a lot of bosses. You now serve a lot of different masters, and they all have different expectations of you that you have to keep straight. Even worse, it’s more important to keep all your clients pleased with you, because it’s a lot easier to let you go than to fire an employee. As a full-time freelancer you don’t just have one employer you have to keep moderately happy; you have a number of clients who you have to keep very happy. Keep that in mind when you’re considering the freelance life.
5. You negotiate your own pay.
This sounds exciting until you reach negotiations. A full-time freelancer can tell you that not everyone is qualified to negotiate a good or even fair rate out of clients. You can read about how to become a better negotiator, yes, but in a lot of ways it’s a natural skill that you either have or you don’t. After a while as a full-time freelancer you’ll likely start to envy your friends who don’t have to constantly negotiate how much they’re making for their hard work.
6. You get to do a lot of different kinds of work.
You’d think that being a full-time freelancer would mean that your work is more diverse. And that can be true. If you’re a writer you might be writing about a lot of different subjects in a number of different fields. However, an experienced full-time freelancer can tell you that the most successful freelancers tend to stick to specific niches. It’s better to write about one subject expertly than to write about a dozen proficiently, even if it’s more fun to do the latter. This is another thing to remember if you’re considering becoming a full-time freelancer.
Featured photo credit: janet lackey via flickr.com