Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why Freelance?

It’s been a rough couple of months for me. I’m not going to go into details, but a lot has happened since February to mess around pretty badly with my personal and financial life. When stuff like that happens, it’s all I can do to concentrate at my full-time job—much less put in the extra time to hunt down freelance leads and write.

But earlier this week, one of my favorite bloggers announced that she was making the leap to full-time freelancing. After I toned down the raging jealousy that flared up in my heart, I realized that it’s time to buckle down and get serious. May is going to be another JHS month. It paid off nicely the last time I participated, and I have high hopes for this month, too.

Before I start working on goals, though, I need to remember why I want to do this. If I can remember exactly why I want to become a full-time freelancer, I can return to this post on days when I’m just not feeling up to putting in the extra hours.

I love writing and working with words. Seriously, I do. I currently work in an office that’s a 70-minute round-trip commute from my apartment. And that’s if I drive—if I take the local rail (something I’ve been considering now that gas prices are so ridiculous), it’s two hours each way. And yeah, I could get a job closer to home. I actually tried that about two years ago—but I hated it. I live in a very industrial town, and there’s not a whole lot here outside of banking and retail. I make that 70-minute commute because it means I can be an editor. But it would be absolutely glorious to cut my commute time down to zero and write from home instead.

A freelancer can never be laid off or downsized. When you work for a corporation in a time of recession like this, there’s always the fear in the back of your mind that your company might need to cut costs—and that your job will be the one to get snipped. As a freelancer, part of your job is reaching out to potential clients and drumming up new business, so that you’ll have something if one of your clients decides he doesn’t need your services anymore.

I can set my own hours. I have a lot of outside interest, not the least of which is acting. At an office job that requires you to work specific shifts, it can be difficult to finagle leaving work early or taking a day off for a rehearsal here or a weekday performance there. Freelancing offers a certain degree of flexibility that an office job can't touch.

No one but me can limit how much money I can make. The possibilities that come with being a freelancer are limitless. I set my own hours, I decide which clients I work with, and the work I put in should (in a perfect world) reflect how much money I make. One of my other favorite bloggers averages about $5K a month with his freelancing business, although I know that’s a pretty extreme example. The opposite is also true, though—if I don’t put in the work, I won’t make any money and will soon end up crawling back to the cubicle.

For any freelancers who read this—what’s your favorite part about self-employment? What was the single biggest factor in your decision to make the leap from the cubicle to the home office?

No comments: