Maybe you’ve seen this article making the rounds on Facebook. Maybe you read recently that more than 53 million Americans are now working freelance. Or maybe you’ve seen other articles here offering great advice on how to know if you’re ready to go freelance.
I personally love freelance work — the flexible hours, choosing my own clients, the ability to travel and work at the same time. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for everyone. If you’re thinking of handing in your two weeks’ notice to strike out on your own, it’s important to be sure that freelancing is the right choice for you.
How do you know if it is? If you fall into one or more of these five categories, freelancing might not be the best option for you.
1. You want income stability
Especially when you’re just starting out, your income as a freelancer will fluctuate greatly. Some months you’ll make several times what you need to meet your financial commitments. Other times you’ll make peanuts.
For some people, this isn’t a problem. But there may be circumstances in your life that make a stable income necessary. If you have kids to raise, health problems to treat, aging parents to visit… you need to know how much money you’ll have coming in each month!
If having a stable income is important to you, skip the freelance thing. It would just make you unhappy.
2. You like to keep your work and hobbies separate
Anyone who starts their own business – whether technical or creative – has to love what they do. Notice how many freelancers and creative types call their jobs their “baby”? It’s that type of emotional investment.
If you don’t want that sort of commitment – if you want to save your emotional investment for things that aren’t your job – don’t become a freelancer. Find a job that pays a good salary and allows for enough time off, then take those things and use them to do what you love in your free time.
3. You don’t want to be the boss
Even for someone like me, who’s had some bad experiences with employers and now enjoys the heck out of self-employment, being your own boss can still cause a lot of stress. And it’s not minor stress — It’s the sort that keeps you up at night planning out to-do lists in your head, wondering what happens if you don’t meet all those crazy goals you set for yourself or whether that last payment has come in.
If you don’t want to deal with the stress of being the place where the buck stops, don’t be a freelancer.
Instead, let someone else be in charge. Go into the office, do your job, and let someone else deal with it. You’ll be able to leave work at work when you go home at night, and that’s definitely something to be valued.
4. You already have a lot to deal with on a personal level
Maybe you have an aging parent who requires lots of care. Maybe you have a special needs child, or you struggle with physical or mental health problems of your own.
Those things are a lot to deal with, and there’s a good chance they don’t leave room for the demands of growing your own business.
If your day-to-day is already complicated enough, don’t make it worse. Keep your stable income, your paid vacation days, your flexible telecommuting, your health insurance… whatever systems you’ve already put in place to face the challenges in your life, if it’s working, keep it.
Working independently is an amazing opportunity. But it’s not the most important thing in the world. Your physical and mental well-being are. Prioritize those.
5. Your dream job doesn’t require striking out on your own
A lot of us independent workers tend to talk about the work we do like it is The Dream. The only possible dream anyone could have and isn’t that what you want out of life too?
Well, no. Not everyone wants to be a freelance writer or own their own consulting business or be a self-supporting artist. Some people want to be doctors or teachers or stay-at-home parents. Some people just dream about making enough to send their kids to college.
Those are all amazing dreams.
If you already know what path you have to take to achieve your goals, don’t get sidetracked just because someone told you freelancing is amazing. Do what you need to get where you want to be.
Going freelance doesn’t need to be the end game of everyone’s career and financial journey. Being able to go freelance is a privilege that not everyone has… and more importantly, that not everyone wants or needs.
Have you considered going freelance… and then decided against it? What factors helped you make that decision?