*First published on May 11, 2010 on my old blog: The Digital Servant
Before delving into the world of freelancing, there are few things I would like to discuss. I know in my first 2 blogs I have been raving about being a freelancer but, as in everything, there are always two sides to a story.
1. Time flexibility.
Pros: Your work schedule is what you make of it. Being a full time mom, this is what attracted me the most to working as a freelancer. I can manage my own work schedule. I can stop whenever I need to do house chores, when my son needs my attention, or if I have community service that I need to attend to. If you are a morning person, you can start working at dawn if you want to. If you are a nocturnal person like me, you can work until the wee hours of the morning and it’s fine. If you want to work just 4 hours a day, go ahead. If you want to maximize your day by working 16 hours straight, you can do that too.
Cons: Time organization can go haywire. Without a fixed and regular time for work, you might end up doing a lot of things at the same time, and then really don’t know where to start. Unlike structured working time, you know that this is the time for just your work. At the end of the day, you log out and go home, leaving all work-related documents and problems at the office. In freelancing, you can’t do that since you are working AT home.
2. Office vs. Home
Pros: Less time on the road. Before becoming a mom, I had a couple of 9-5 jobs. And since most of the working sector is composed of employees who have 9-5 jobs, you would know what I’m talking about. Whether you are commuting or driving to and from work, technically you are “working” not just 9-5, but half of the day already, giving yourself at least an hour (or to some of you, as much as 3 hours) going to work and the same time (or even more) going home. When you get home, you’re tired, stressed and just want to plop down on the couch or your bed and just sleep. Not only do you shave off a couple of hours on commuting, you actually save up on your gas or commuting allowance.
Cons: More time at home. Initially, you may think of this as a perfect scenario for working. Yes, you are home. You don’t need to travel and drive or commute. But for some people, staying at one place for a long time can be, well, boring. Day in and day out, you’re stuck in a place for whole day, no scenery to admire, no people to interact with. Just… you (well, for the mothers out there, just you and your children, which at one time or another, you’ll end up wishing you ARE alone).
Pros: Yes, I actually have worked wearing my pajamas. I normally do my bulk work at night when my son’s already sleeping. I would do my normal nightly routine first (brush teeth, wear pajamas) before continue working. I don’t think you can do that in the corporate world (well, unless you work for Google).
Cons: Working in your PJs means having that feeling of laziness. The lure of the couch and the bed is sometimes so strong that it’s really hard to NOT go back to sleep or just take a nap. And then you realize that you spent most of the day slacking off and end up not doing anything at all.
4. You can choose what you what to do.
Pros: What do I mean by that statement? It means being your own boss. You decide what projects you want to tackle, what topics you want to write about. You only apply for jobs that you really want and still get paid for it.
Cons: There are so many freelancers nowadays that competition is really stiff. You have to show the prospective client something special about you. That way you’ll end up getting that project that you want. Want to land that website project that you’re eyeing? So do hundreds of competitors. Have an opportunity to write a blog about something you are passionate about? So do hundreds of bloggers. It’s like throwing meat into a cage full of lions. You have to fight your way to get that meat.
5. Work wherever you are.
Pros: With a laptop, a mobile broadband net access, you are good to go. You can work while waiting for your son’s class to end or a friend in Starbucks.
Cons: Same with no. 3, you might end up NOT working. You might see a fellow parent also waiting for her son to finish class and end up chatting with her the whole time. Your “supposed” working time would vanish into oblivion and you’ll find yourself cramming for the deadline that is fast approaching.
6. You control how much you’ll earn.
Pros: Let’s just say you can work at least 8 hours a day from Monday – Saturday, and you are earning $3 per hour. That is $24 a day, $144/week, $576/month. Not bad for someone who doesn’t need to leave the house to work.
Cons: The flip side of this is if you don’t have any projects, you don’t get paid at all. If you work just 5 hours this week, you’ll just get a measly $15 for the week. It’s not a fixed income. With a regular job, you are assured of a fixed monthly salary that you can rely on.
So before quitting that 9-5 job that you are in, before delving into the freelancing world, give it some serious thinking first. Weigh the pros and cons and see how it’ll affect your life.
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I enjoyed reading your pros and cons post. Speaking from experience, I suggest taking an intermediate step of telecommuting at least a few days a week (if at all possible) before going into freelancing full-time. While telecommuting is not the same as being self-employed, you can get a taste of and, hopefuly, a handle on some of the freelancing challenges mentioned in this post, such as #2, #3, #5 and possibly even #1.
@yelena – thanks for dropping by the blog and also for your input as well. Great advice for people who’s thinking of “shifting” to freelancing. I didn’t experience that transition stage so I wasn’t able to think of it, thanks again 🙂
May De Jesus-Palacpac says
After a few years of freelancing, I realized that a single client with a fixed time with a fixed rate applies to me. Because my work hours now are from 5am-12nn (It’s really 7am-3pm but my request to alter was approved), I can take my hands off my keyboard after my work hours are done. However, it takes a lot of discipline, too. Because I need to focus on work during that time or else, I end up having to spend a lot of time making up for the time I wasted. I’m not always successful at this, hahaha.