If you’re working in a job that fills you with the dreads every Sunday, make 2014 the year that you do something about it. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that getting another full-time position is your only option. Freelancing can be a great way to replace a corporate income, if you are committed to making it work.
Of course, opting for self employment is a very personal decision, and it is not for everyone. Here are some questions to help you consider if it is right for you,
Is your heart driving you to do it? After six years of freelancing, I believe this is the most important key to success in freelancing. Yes, you have to be good at what you do and know how to sell your services–but if your heart is not in it, you will end up going back to a traditional job after a short while.
For me the most powerful motivation to freelance has always been having more time with my children. Your main reason for wanting to freelance may be very different. Maybe you are a free spirit who hates the structure of a corporate environment, a singer who wants to leave work early to go to rehearsals, a marathoner who wants to organize your work schedule around your running schedule, or someone who needs the flexibility to dash to an aging parent’s house in case of emergency. The exact reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s an important enough motivator for you to help you ride out the rough parts of freelancing.
How do you feel about taking responsibility for your own financial security? Many people think freelancing is less secure than a corporate job. Having lived as both a corporate worker and a freelancer, I don’t agree. Most corporate jobs are pretty unstable these days. Corporate jobs give you the illusion of security by evening out your cash flow. You get paid at set intervals, and the corporation takes care of much of the burden of paying for health care for you. But, as you know if you have any friends who have been laid off, the economic stability that a gig like this brings lasts only as long as the job does. Then you’re out of luck until you find a new job.
It is very possible to achieve steady cash flow–without giving up on health insurance–in a freelance career, but you have to be committed to achieving these things. That means making a continuing effort to build a steady client base, saving a lot of what you earn to cushion you during slow periods and committing to paying for health insurance before you splurge on extras, like vacations. It is not easy to do these things–and you won’t get there overnight–but it certainly isn’t impossible.
I want to address an elephant in the room on this topic. You can do these things even if you don’t have a spouse brings in a corporate paycheck and benefits. I know this is true from experience. My husband is self-employed, too, in a one-person business. We manage to make the two-freelance-income lifestyle work (with four kids) because doing so is very important to leading our lives the way we want. I know other freelancers who are single parents and supporting children this way, in one case while homeschooling. If you want to make it work, you will be surprised at how creative you can be about doing so.
Can you let go of the idea of having a boss? Freelancing takes some confidence. There’s no supervisor to spur you on to exceed your past achievements or to give you a kick in the pants when you’re in a rut. You’ve got to motivate yourself to raise the bar or find some freelancing buddies to help you stay inspired. Of course, there’s a flip side to this. If you’ve been working in a corporate environment that isn’t very egalitarian, then you’ll find that the world of freelancing is often a lot fairer and less political. Your clients will care about one thing: Whether you can make their lives easier by getting the job done right. Once you experience how freeing this is, it will be hard to go back to the old corporate ways of doing things.