I quit my job last spring, mostly because my wife and I had our eyes set on the “big city metropolitan lifestyle,” and we were getting tired of the small college town we lived in.
After several half-hearted attempts at finding full-time employment, we decided that it was time to go after that long-awaited self-employment prize. 6 months later and we’re still happy about that decision! Rejoice! It was a scary thing starting out since we didn’t have much of a financial cushion, but planning, budgeting, and some previous savings helped quite a bit.
In a job interview once, when asked why I was looking for a change of career direction, I was told that my answers were too negative. The problem was this: I was too focused on what I was tired of in a job, and never really considered why I wanted to move in a new direction. Being so blinded, I didn’t consider whether the job I was interviewing for was really something I wanted to do.
I’ve noticed the same issue with people getting started with freelancing, myself included. Are you doing it because you really want to start your own business and work for yourself?
Or is it because you’re tired of the 8 to 5, your boss, or even just the stuffy office? Looking for something different can be a great reason, just make sure you’re looking in the right place.
Below are some of the reasons I came across for starting my own freelance business. The negative reasons didn’t do a ton to motivate me, and turned out to be a bit empty in retrospect.
Negative Reasons for freelance designing:
I don’t like working for other people.
Tired of the boss breathing down your neck? Try having 4-5 different bosses (clients) at the same time. All who want something from you NOW, and all who can affect your future ability to find work. Then there’s your conscience, who can really be a jerk if you’re slacking off.
I can’t find a job.
There are many reasons for being unable to find work, but if lack of skills in your chosen field have anything to do with it, you should think twice about making it your sole source of income.
To be honest, I actually started freelancing (partly) because I didn’t have a job at the time, and couldn’t find any work that I could see myself doing in the long term. However, working for myself was something I had wanted to do for some time, and it turned out the time was right. Sometimes I wish I had a bit more employment experience, just so I could have a better handle on the way business is done outside my own home office. But the learn-as-you-go technique is working alright so far.
I don’t like the corporate 8 to 5 lifestyle.
True, nobody likes to punch in and out every day. But if you’re going to have a few clients–and especially if you live on the West Coast–that may mean taking calls before 9am sometimes. Many people (especially those who do have to punch in at 8) are going to start getting impatient when they can’t get hold of you until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Something to think about.
Positive Reasons for freelance designing:
I like to do things myself and am super excited about starting my own business.
Take it from someone who has been working on setting up a freelance design business for the last 9 months or so. It takes A LOT of work. Especially if you don’t know what you’re doing/have no business experience (that’s me!). However, through researching, asking around, reading articles, and good old trial and error, I’m starting to get it figured out.
I like flexibility, but can manage my time well.
The nice thing about working for yourself is that you can work whenever you want. Or all the time. I’m finding the latter to be more true every day–it’s 11:30PM right now, in fact! I put more hours in now than I ever did as a full-time employee. The trick is managing your time well. If you’re used to relying on a project manager to schedule your work, there may be a steep learning curve here. The good news: the better you are at managing your time, the more time you’ll be able to keep for yourself, and the less time you’ll spend pulling your hair out at 3 in the morning.
I’m confident in my skills and what I can deliver.
When you’re out on your own, you don’t have coworkers to ask advice (though I recommend finding a fellow freelancer to converse with) or a project manager/creative director/supervisor to lean on for tough decisions. It’s just you. Some embrace this. Others can’t take the pressure.
Working for yourself takes a great deal of confidence, but also a realistic knowledge of what you can and can’t do. Few things shatter your self-confidence faster than not being able to deliver on a project because you bit off more than you can chew. Believe in yourself, but try to be realistic. It’s easy to over-promise, and just as easy to under-perform.
Of course, no amount of my yappin’ will give you the final answer to the big question. Should you take the freelance plunge? Ask yourself why you want to take that route, then take an honest measure of your strengths and weaknesses to determine if it’s even a viable route for you. Self-employment is not the easy way out, but with a fair amount of strategic planning and determination added to your already epic skill set, it can be very rewarding.
Calling all freelancers
Why did you choose freelancing? Did your reasons stand the test of time? I’d love to hear what you have to say, and how self-employment is working out for you. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.