So You Want to be a Freelance: Five Reasons to Make the Leap

Last week, I tried to talk you out of freelancing with a list of five reasons freelancing is not all sunshine and roses. Maybe I made some of you give a little prayer of thanks for your 9 to 5. If, however, you’re still thinking freelancing might be the life for you, here are five reasons to further convince you to take the plunge.

1. You can work when you want.

With an office job, flex hours usually mean that you can take every other Friday off if you work nine hours every other day or something like that. You’re still expected to be in the office during “regular business hours,” which typically begin somewhere between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and end somewhere between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. As a freelancer, flex hours mean you can literally work whenever you want. Morning person? No problem. Get up before the sun and be done by lunch. Unable to cope with sunlight until noon? No one’s going to stop you from starting work post the midday meal. Got a little bit of vampire in you? Well, the night’s all yours. If you want, you can change your schedule every day. You can refuse to even have a schedule. You’re welcome to do your grocery shopping at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and hit the gym at 10 a.m. You can go for a walk or a bike ride or just cartwheel around the neighborhood if you like. There are no time limits on lunch breaks. As long as you complete any work you commit to on time, then no one actually cares at what hour of the day you get it done.

2. You can work wherever you want.

Say goodbye to the generic office or, even worse, the cubicle, and set up your work space wherever you want. I find it nice to have a dedicated work space (decorated to suit my taste, of course), but I certainly don’t work there all the time. When the temperature parks itself in the 70s and the sun is bright and the birds are chirping, I pick up the office (aka my computer) and relocate to the back porch. Sometimes I’ll throw the office in my backpack and take it to the Duke Library. I’ve worked from a hammock and on an airplane and in a hotel room and during a long car ride. If it gets as hot this summer as it did last summer, I’m setting up shop in a kiddie pool in the backyard. The options are endless. While I personally remain fairly rooted, an entire army of “digital nomads” are marching all over the planet, working from wherever they can find a wireless connection.

3. There’s no dress code.

Though a lot of offices have become more casual since the days of the dot com boom, most workplaces still maintain a certain standard when it comes to wardrobes. Bathing suits are generally frowned upon. Pajamas as well. Nudity is definitely a no-no. But when you’re working at home you can wear (or not wear) whatever the heck you want, which means you don’t have to spend any of your hard-earned money on a work wardrobe. Wear whatever you find most comfy or most inspirational and go with it. No one’s going to know.

4. You get to choose your assignments.

While working in an office, most of us don’t have the freedom of telling our boss that the project (s)he just presented to us really isn’t what we’re looking to do at the moment. Or that our plates already full, and there’s just no room for anything else. As a freelancer, however, you have the liberty to choose assignments that interest you (as well as work for people that you find pleasant to do business with). Sure, when first starting out as a freelance, you’ll probably take most anything that comes your way, but as your business and reputation grows you reserve the right to be picky. Maybe you want to stick with one specific niche. Maybe you want to try your hand at a whole range of opportunities. The choice is yours.

5. Your income potential is open-ended.

Now, I admit it, this one is a bit of a double-edged sword, since open-ended could mean $200 dollars (or less) or $100,000 (or more). However, there’s something I find fun about being able to pick up a new project and with it a couple thousand dollars. As a salaried employee, new projects don’t come with new pay (except perhaps an occasional bonus). You pretty much know up front what you’re going to be making for the year or until your next review. And while it can be a bit scary as a freelancer not to have that security, it’s also exciting when you find yourself making more than you predicted you would.

Fellow freelancers, what can you add to this list? What is it about the freelance life that makes it your preferred lifestyle?

*The observations in this post and all other posts about freelancing are based on my experience as a freelance editor and copy writer (who does a tiny bit of travel writing on the side). I do think that they apply pretty universally, however, to the freelance experience.

3 Replies to “So You Want to be a Freelance: Five Reasons to Make the Leap”

  1. I’m taking the plunge in October. I’m just wondering though – where does the work come from? Do you write first and then submit it? Do you approach places and then write? Who do you approach? Do they approach you? How do the find you? Sorry for all the questions it’s just that I know it will be hard work but I’m prepared for that, I just don’t know where to start.

  2. I have friends who have done it and love it and those who didnt fair to well. The income will come with time but not having a dress code and working when you want wins the battle for me. however you still have to work hard!

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