As you can tell from the title, it’s been a whole year since I quit my job to go full-time freelance. It was terrifying even though I had a stable contract to go onto (at the time) but I’m so glad I did it. In this post, I’ll be sharing what I’ve been up to, what I’ve learned and the pros and cons of going freelance. If you’re thinking of going freelance, I hope this little insight helps.
What have I been doing for a whole year?
As I mentioned above, I had a stable freelance contract to go on to which is what gave me the confidence to quit my job. I don’t know if I would have had the guts otherwise. However, the stable contract that I left my job for lasted a whole 5/6 months when it simply didn’t work out and I was let go. It felt like going self-employed again. I was on my own and not only that, my partner was forced out of his job in the same week. It was pretty terrifying.
We suddenly had a grand total of £150 coming in each month from another client I had on board – not exactly enough to pay the rent.
Interestingly, my partner decided that because he couldn’t get another job due to back problems, he would need to make money working from home somehow. Luckily, he already knew someone who had a way to do that – me.
So, together we decided to become a freelance writing team. We decided to work on our own projects but help each other out. We slowly but surely started to get work coming in. Now, we’re at a point where we both work full-time and can cover the bills with some left over.
While stuff has happened in between, that’s pretty much what my year looked like. Positive > terrifying > then positive again. I say this to highlight that it’s not all sunshine and roses. Everyone’s experience may be different but it’s important to know that nothing is certain with freelancing.
With that in mind, here are my top pros and cons of going freelance according to my experience.
This is the primary reason why I love working from home and being self-employed. There’s so much more flexibility to live life the way you want. I really begrudge having to sit in someone else’s office for 8 hours a day, making them money. By the time I come home, I’m too tired to do anything.
There is a common misconception, particularly around friends and family, that we have unlimited time off and we can just cancel all work for the day. But that’s not true. We’re busy and we work pretty regular hours, but there’s flexibility there we wouldn’t otherwise have if we were employed. Plus, it’s our decision to work those hours (mostly).
Control over your environment
Ever been in an office where you just can’t concentrate? The radio keeps playing the same four songs on repeat, people are chatting, laughing, talking about their weekend – it’s enough to drive me mad. I like peace and quiet and I’m easily distracted. The open office layout that most modern offices go for these days is really bad for productivity. I’m an introvert too, lots of social interaction every day is very tiring.
If you work from home, you’ve got full control over your environment. You can build an office that allows you to work in the best way possible. While this might be different if you have kids, of course, there’s still more control over things like music, lighting, heating, even smells than there ever would be if you worked for someone else.
People often do not pay fast after receiving an invoice or at any kind of regular, expected interval. I have no idea when I’m going to get paid. Most invoices are on a 30-day payment period but it’s anyone’s guess when that payment will come in. It takes some financial gymnastics to pay the rent when you don’t get January’s pay until the end of February.
On a similar note, you never know what the month ahead is going to bring. You can have a new client, ready to go and then they just randomly ghost you. They never return any messages and you have to just walk away and accept that this one isn’t for you.
That means your income for each month is a mystery. The best thing you can do is try and get some regular clients, but even they can be a pain if they don’t pay when they say they will. These two cons are enough to put most people off going freelance and I totally understand. It’s very frustrating.
What I’ve learned since going freelance
- Payment systems and financial management are vital
- A regular working schedule ensures you get everything done
- Working away from your home office once in a while is an important way to refresh your mind
- It’s important to get your personal projects done first thing in the morning – before the rest of the day becomes work/business
- Marketing yourself is vital and needs some time dedicated to it
- Knowing other freelancers is important so you have support, can share workloads and let each other know of different opportunities
- You will need to fire your clients eventually – start with the lowest paying ones
- You will need to get firm with clients on fees – be prepared to walk away if they don’t agree to your rates
- People will sound 100% enthusiastic when they contact you, only to ghost you when you reply
- Late payments are unfortunately part of the business world – freelancers are the last priority on a client’s to-do list
Would I still go freelance if given the chance again?
Overall, the lifestyle is great. It’s literally just the payment thing that is annoying. While this year certainly hasn’t been perfect, it’s opened up the opportunity to use our home more effectively, get a puppy, make money in new and interesting ways and spend more time together. I am less stressed and have more time to work on my own projects.
I would definitely go freelance again if I had the same decision to make, even if I knew how it would end up. It’s certainly not for everyone but if you’ve been feeling like there’s something missing from your professional life and you’re sick and tired of working around other people, then give freelancing a go. The good thing is, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back.
Are you thinking of going freelance or are you already freelance? What have you learned since you took the leap? Let us know your thoughts below.