The Drawbacks of Freelancing to Consider Before Committing

by WorkFromHome on January 18, 2012

The global economy is in a state of turmoil and that has had some profound and universal effects on the American employment landscape and job market: salaries have stagnated or even decreased over the past five years, while unemployment has skyrocketed to nearly 1 in 10 Americans. The cost of living has continued to increase as gas prices rise, energy prices skyrocket, college tuition increases at a rate more than twice that of inflation, and health care costs continue to escalate. All the while, people are looking for alternatives to the kind of lifestyle they have been stuck in for the past half-decade.

For many Americans, that means turning to a freelancing occupation that pays them for a skill they already have: writing, graphic design, proofreading or editing, performing administrative assistant duties, scheduling appointments, or even participating in mock juries and trials. But many Americans fail to consider that these positions, while definitely a solid source of primary or secondary income, have some definite potential drawbacks that must be considered prior to commitment.

Lots of Responsibility — In Fact, All of It

Freelancing is great because it offers a measure of personal freedom that typical office jobs simply cannot afford to their employees. But this double edged sword means that freelancers are responsible for doing literally everything their business requires: bookkeeping, finding clients and work, managing their time well, collecting money from those they’ve worked for, designing their own website and portfolio, marketing their business and making the sale, and numerous other responsibilities. This is not a employment option for the faint of heart, and it’s certainly not appropriate for people who are not motivated to do everything their business requires.

Freelancing is best suited to those who know how a business works, and how to best manage their time in order to ensure that all of the day’s required tasks are completed. If one thing falls behind, the entire business is liable to do the same, and that simply means less income and less earning opportunities for the freelancer who can’t bear the full burden of their employment choice.

Freelancing Requires Long Hours

Many people are lured to freelancing by the prospect of setting their own hours, working only when they feel the need to work and enjoying ample time off when they desire it. And while it’s certainly true that a freelancer can take the day off when he or she wants to, it’s also true that doing so will negatively impact their income. Also, those starting out with freelancing would be well-advised to consider that many twelve-hour days (or longer) are in store. Though freelancing is a self-owned enterprise, it still requires being set up just like a traditional business. Freelancers will need to create a home office space, hunt for new clients day in and day out, and do all of their own bookkeeping, tax-paying, and income-earning. These positions are demanding — no less so than a management position in a burgeoning business elsewhere.

The Job Can be Isolating

Freelancing’s biggest draw may also be its biggest potential liability: the prospect of being home all day. Sure, waking up early and going to the office can be a drag, especially on those tiring Monday mornings which are difficult for everyone. But the simple fact is that office environments provide a good deal of social interaction and opportunities for friendship. Freelance work, on the other hand, does not provide the same kind of opportunities. Rather than big offices, it relies on home offices. Rather than co-workers, it relies on clients who may be clear across the country.

Freelancing can lead to a high dose of cabin fever, as those who work from home may be desperate to leave it — but they simply can’t, as the workday gives way to an evening in the very same place that they spent the entire day working.

The Feast and Famine Cycle Can Hit Hard

Freelancers would be well-adivsed to develop a robust savings account and tap into it only on “rainy days.” That’s because the nature of freelancing is that there may be ample work — indeed, almost too much work — one week or month, and virtually no work for the next several weeks or up to a month. That can lead to a feast and famine cycle where a freelancer makes really good money every couple weeks, and barely gets by for the next several. A robust and growing savings account can ensure that leaner times are easier to manage and survive, and it can ensure that a lack of money is one stress that does not enter the freelancer’s mind.

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