On Quitting Your Job, Freelancing, and the Pros and Pitfalls of Both

I feel like everywhere I look lately, I’m spotting articles encouraging people to quit their jobs and freelance instead.

For those of you who hate sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, looking at running your own business or freelancing is not the solution. You’ll likely be parked on that office chair for the same amount of time, and then be pulled to do something else. Freelancing was my better option, but it isn’t a magical solution that’s awesome in every way.

In order to enjoy and make it work as a freelance creative, you’ll have to work harder than a desk job will ever require of you, because you’re responsible for how it all goes, not just the one role you’re hired for. You have to be hungry, disciplined, have good interpersonal skills, and the ability to self-organize and self-motivate. Yes, you also have more freedom, but it also means you’re responsible for everything that goes along with that: managing your time, clients, projects, finances and resources appropriately, and as needed. You are also the sales and marketing department and the accounts payable and receivable. Not to mention that you’re often alone: no one is there to recognize your win that day. And when business is slow, you don’t have long lunches with co-workers, you have yourself staring at your screen wondering if your email is down and that’s the reason no one’s emailing. You really do have to wear every hat, all the time. You have to RSVP and then show the heck up. It can be a lot at times.

I’m a freelancer, and there are days where I wish I could just book a day off or call in sick and not have to think about work. But when you take a day off as a self-employed individual, you have to make up for the lost time. There’s no one to pass the buck to. No one to cover or help you with a project if you’re swamped. There’s no one else to blame for issues. You’re expected to deliver, everything, every time, without complaint. As a freelancer, you have more to prove than an established agency with an office, and if you make one mistake, you can’t blame the account department or the receptionist. If you drop the ball, you can probably kiss that client bye-bye forever.

“Yes, freelancing can be empowering, challenging, even freeing – but it’s far from perfect. I can’t help but wonder if all these people making the switch know it’s not just boozy lunches on Tuesdays and working from the beach (although there is that!), but also cash flow issues, loneliness, and perpetual fear? And that it certainly isn’t for everybody: you have to love to motivate yourself and hustle to make this work.”

Alyson Krueger

Of course, on the other hand, it’s also equally amazing! If you’re efficient, a salary can limit and punish you, where freelancing means you can decide how much you make. Want to make more? Work more. Want to work less? Expect less income that year. Being a freelancer means you can control your time, income, vacations, days. And you don’t have to deal with office politics or nonsensical expectations to “put in your time”. You can work from your back patio, you can sleep in however late you want, but you still have to do all the work.

For me, freelancing is the only way. I’m not built to work in an office, which leads me to believe that some people may not be built to work as freelancers!

So what I’m trying to say here is this: Freelancing isn’t for everyone. 

And it’s surely not always a walk in the park. Quitting your job is a big deal, and in most cases it’s a good idea if you’re terribly unhappy, but it’s not always realistic. And the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. Each comes with its share of challenges, and both have so much merit and integrity. Rest assured that there is a place for you, and don’t take every article you read as gospel. You probably know what’s best for you, so listen to your heart.

Everything is in its right place.

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