Freelancing’s Biggest Disclaimer

Posted: August 6th, 2009

If you’ve been under a rock the last few years, you probably haven’t heard that freelancing has been taking off like a bullet in the last few years. Even during the recent recession, the demand for freelancers has continued to climb making this career path an enticing choice for those who want to go down this road.

Anyone can see the benefits of freelancing: work when you want, be your own boss, no middle manager to answer to and, if you do it right, the salary is comparable (or better) to that in a paid position. There is also a big asterik that’s appended to the word freelancing; The big disclaimer that follows closely behind:

You want control of your career? You got it!

Now don’t get the impression I’m trying to dissuade anyone from freelancing nor believe it’s the wrong route to go down. I’ve been a happy freelancer for the last six years and I have no regrets whatsoever. Some thought, however, should be made in the decision to become a freelancer. Some of the other facets of freelancing aren’t so obvious.

If you happen to work at a job then, from the outside looking in, freelancing is the ultimate goal from the benefits outlined above.  From the freelancer’s perspective, though, a job offers you the following perks that you may take for granted:

  • Paid vacation (well, for most of you)
  • Paid or discounted heath and dental insurance
  • Company marketing is done by the company, not you
  • All accounting and taxes (except filing) are handled
  • Office supplies including computers/software are handled as well

In an office setting, these are always expected and almost an afterthought. As a freelancer these all have to be handled by you and take up a lot of time that is unpaid and cost money out of your own pocket. While you could probably skip the vacation to save money, the rest are essential to a freelancer’s business and cannot be ignored.

The unpaid time and business expenses are often enough to overwhelm a new freelancer into quitting soon after he starts. Plus, of the above list, the biggest X factor is the marketing you do for you own business. Done right, you are able to eat. Done wrong and, well, you get the picture.

So how do you prepare for them when starting out?

Its simple. By planning and being organized right from the start, you have a jump on the preparation needed to successfully grow as a freelancer. There is an endless supply of advice out there for freelancers to eat up and apply to their businesses (check out the Resources here too). Take advantage of it.

Now being organized is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preparation. The rest comes to you as you learn the ropes. There will be surprises and the highs and lows that comes with every career. Keeping your head up and dealing with the suprises and lows will keep you moving forward, too, and away from your job calling you back.