JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician, and author of books for children and adults.
The Pros and Cons of Freelancing
If you’re thinking about becoming a self-employed freelance writer, you need to weigh up the pros and cons.
Certain authorities on the subject will describe and exaggerate the positives – working the hours you choose, working from home, working in your pyjamas, working on assignments you prefer – without filling you in on the negatives. And make no mistake about it: there are plenty of them. But first, let's take a look at what's on the plus side.
What’s a Freelancer?
According to Dictionary.com, "A freelancer is a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer."
Freelancing Gives You Independence
Imagine getting up in the morning and not having to scramble around trying to find decent clothes to wear to the office. Not having to quickly get dressed, washed, to gulp down some coffee and a bit of toast before grabbing your lunch and high-tailing it out the door. Not having to sit in traffic, wait for a bus or train, or spend the next half hour or more wasting time just getting to a place where you can begin working. Not having to do what someone else tells you to do, all for the benefit of a boss or company that may or may not treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve.
When you're a freelancer, you don't have to worry about any of that. You can literally get up when you want, start work when you want and get dressed when you feel like it. There's no need to hurry out of the house, no need to endure morning rush hours, congested roads or crowded public transport. You take on the jobs you want to take on, set your own rates and time limits, and work as many hours as you think you need to.
And let's face it: you can't get much more independent than being your own boss.
It Gives You Flexibility
Taking on freelance work might sound scary at first. There's nowhere to hide, and the buck always stops with you. What it does mean, though, is an end to the routine and monotony that's inherent in so many types of employment.
Freelancing enables you to do things differently. You can:
- Work at a pace that suits you
- Take breaks whenever you want to
- Work any hours of the day that suit your personality
- Take a day off when you need it
- Work indoors, outside, at home, in a rented office space, in a coffee shop, or just about anywhere else
Of course, the whole thing needs to be tempered with realism. You can't spend every day enjoying walks in the park or drives in the country. You still need to earn enough money to pay the bills and get by, and you can't do that if you're swanning about all day. If you're going to embrace the freelancer's lifestyle, you need to be disciplined and organized enough to make sure that you get the work done on time and on target.
When you're a freelancer, the buck always stops with you
Freelancing Gives You Variety
Imagine being a freelance writer with half a dozen clients. What kind of things might you be required to do?
- Write e-books
- Write articles
- Write blog posts
- Write sales pages
- Write emails
- Write web content
- Write copy for social media
If you've got the right kind of experience, you could add editing and proofreading into the mix. Or you could write short stories, poetry, or verses for greeting cards. If you think about it, there aren't many other jobs that offer the potential for that kind of diversity.
It Gives You Control
In a nutshell, freelancing means you get to choose the kind of work you do. You get to choose when you do the work. You get to take on the type of jobs that you want to do. And the more experience you have, the more selective you can be.
You won't wake up every day with the sun beaming down on you and birds whistling outside your windowsill. There won't be a constant supply of rainbows arcing across the sky. You'll still need to do some hard grafting, possibly even taking on jobs that are not ideal. But as your skills develop, your ability to procure more rewarding and more lucrative assignments will increase.
Here are just a few of the jobs you can work on, all at the same time:
- One-off articles
- Regular blog posts
- Proofreading or editing articles or e-books
- Ongoing contracts
Whatever projects you take on, make sure you get recommendations from the people you work for. Keep a record of all the positive feedback you receive and include those comments in any future proposals. Individuals and companies will be more likely to hire you if they know you did a great job for someone else.
One other point you should keep in mind is this: don't put all your eggs in one basket. Ongoing contracts can be a source of regular income, but in today's volatile marketplace, work is never guaranteed. It pays to have a number of different projects on the go, just in case one of them suddenly comes to an abrupt end.
To keep yourself busy with a steady stream of work, try not to put all your eggs in one basket.
The Downside to Freelancing
Being a full-time freelancer won't work for everyone. Although the benefits can be alluring, there's more to it than first meets the eye. It might make more sense to hold on to your day job and do some freelancing on the side, at least until your skills and earning potential reach a level you can comfortably live with.
What makes freelancing so tough? Here are just a few of the issues you'll be faced with every single day.
- Isolation: You're on your own. All day, every day, it's just you, your trusty notebook, and your computer screen. Some people can't work under those conditions. They need to be surrounded by other people. They need to have someone else to talk to, to debate ideas with, to give them encouragement or just to tell them what to do.
- Distraction: Even if you work from a home office with no windows (which, of course, you shouldn't), distractions are everywhere. If any outside noise or gorgeous weather doesn't put you off, there's still the temptation to answer emails, update your status on social media, browse the web or watch online videos - the possibilities are endless. That's why a routine that you absolutely stick to like glue is so important.
- Stress: Just like any other “job” the freelancer has to produce the goods. The work might be more pleasant than another person’s but it’s just as time-consuming and demanding. There’s still the potential for stress, anxiety and frustration, although a quick walk in the fresh air might help to get rid of some of these issues.
- Motivation: When you're a freelancer, there's no-one to spur you on. It's just you, all by yourself. Keeping yourself motivated can be a real challenge. If the work you're doing is interesting and enjoyable, that can be enough to keep you on task. Especially if you're being paid a fair amount for your efforts.
- Self-belief: Have faith in your talent. Don't let doubts creep in. If they ever do, read through those recommendations from previous employers. You have to believe in yourself totally because there's no-one else to do it for you.
Freelancing Can Be Liberating
I started working as a self-employed freelance writer in 2006. The first thing I did was to take the watch off my wrist. No more clock-watching for me. I haven't worn one since.
There've been many times when I took whole days off. One of the things I learned very early on is that you can't just keep going, no matter what. You need to take regular breaks to let your brain digest and sort through information. You also need to keep feeding it with input. If you're struggling with a project, you can't just sit and stare at the screen. At times like that, a quick break can help you get a sense of perspective. The information is probably already in your brain, so you just need to stop forcing it and let it flow.
As you might expect, working for yourself isn’t a piece of cake. You get to be your own boss, but that means you have to continually motivate yourself. Either you work hard, or you fail. You get to choose the kind of work you do, which can lead to more variety and job satisfaction. But there isn't a manager or supervisor looking over your shoulder. There's no-one to keep you on your toes, so that becomes yet another one of your responsibilities.
You need to make sure the work you do is worth doing in the first place and that your time and effort earn you a decent amount of compensation. You need to be determined to succeed, willing to learn, patient, committed, optimistic and resilient. You need to believe in yourself wholeheartedly and be willing to work to meet deadlines, even when the sun is splitting the rocks just outside your window.
If you can do these things, your career will likely go from strength to strength, and then you can buy as many pairs of pyjamas as you want. Whether you choose to work in them or not is up to you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Apple Glayza Ichimura from Manila, Philippines on August 06, 2020:
Thanks for the article. This is very useful and relatable on my profession.
Abigail Barcinas on June 06, 2020:
Thank you for sharing this.
JohannahM on May 15, 2020:
Yes, I do agree about your Article. And I am excited in making my own freelancing journey.
Jorge Cruz from Canada on January 20, 2018:
Thank you, John. Your hub is very encouraging, I hope I can buy my first pair of freelancer pajamas.
JohnMello (author) from England on March 22, 2016:
Thanks Hanzamfafa. Just keep on writing!
Mike Leal from London on March 21, 2016:
Thanks a lot for this Hub. Really helpful and inspiring. I am looking forward to freelance writing as well. Just need to develop my writing skills some more.
JohnMello (author) from England on March 15, 2016:
Top 5, I think you mean, bydojo. Thanks for reading and commenting :)
Ramona Jar from New York on March 14, 2016:
1. Unlimited earning potential.
2. The freedom to schedule my work around my life.
3. Freedom to pursue whatever I fancy (am not stuck to an industry, I can now work as a web designer, then as a content writer or whatever I wish).
4. No commute.
5. No bosses.
These are my top 4 pros for freelancing
JohnMello (author) from England on March 01, 2016:
Thanks Tatiana Ho. Glad you enjoyed it :)
Tatiana Ho from New York, New York on February 29, 2016:
Great read. Definitely going to keep both pros and cons in mind in the future!
JohnMello (author) from England on February 10, 2016:
Glad you enjoyed it gerimcclym. Thanks for reading and commenting :)
Geri McClymont on February 10, 2016:
As somebody who has worked as a freelancer and learned some of these lessons the hard way, I must say you've covered it all here. As you mentioned, people often look at the positives of being a freelancer without considering the negatives. Great read.
JohnMello (author) from England on February 07, 2016:
Thanks for your comments and for reading my Hub, Reprieve26.
HS Contino from Oregon Coast on February 07, 2016:
Well written hub. You make several valid points on both sides of the argument. Thanks for sharing!
JohnMello (author) from England on February 05, 2016:
Thanks Thelma Alberts. Glad you enjoyed it :)
Thelma Alberts from Germany on February 05, 2016:
Good points you have here. I don't mind the isolation but the distractions. Thanks for reminding me the pros and cons of being a freelancer.
JohnMello (author) from England on February 04, 2016:
Thanks gsidley. Sounds like an ideal mix :)
Dr. Gary L. Sidley from Lancashire, England on February 04, 2016:
Valid points re pros & cons - well made. I'm very fortunate that my generous pension scheme (I've taken early retirement at 55) means that my freelance income, although very welcome, is not paying the bills.
JohnMello (author) from England on February 03, 2016:
Thanks Jodah. Glad you enjoyed the quiz :)
John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on February 03, 2016:
All good points both pros and cons in regard to freelancing here, John. Loved the quiz. I was temped to answer "sage, rosemary and thyme" and "gypsies, tramps and thieves".
JohnMello (author) from England on February 03, 2016:
Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan. You're right, and there are probably more, but I didn't want to make the Hub too long :)
Thanks also to Abhimanyu gaur for your comments :)
Claudia Porter on February 03, 2016:
One thing that I find can be a pro or a con when freelancing (especially at this time of the year in the U.S.) is keeping track of finances and tax time. Good article.
JohnMello (author) from England on February 03, 2016:
Hi Maria. Looking at the screen, they're floating on the left-hand side of this article :) Thanks for the comments!
MariaMontgomery from Coastal Alabama, USA on February 02, 2016:
Thank you for some great reminders for all of us. I searched for the social media share buttons, but could not find any way to share this very good article.
Abhimanyu gaur on February 02, 2016:
Love the humor in the last line and great hub. Thanks for pointing it out because I am working as a freelancer for last two months I agree with some of your points. I love isolation maybe I am an exception in that case. Thanks again
JohnMello (author) from England on February 02, 2016:
Some distractions are worth it :)
Medvekoma from Durham, United Kingdom on February 02, 2016:
A lovely hub indeed. Made me think a bit, especially the distraction part.
Guess this article doesn't count for that, right? Hehehe.