I’ve seen people who jumped into a freelance career only to loose interest and go back into their default comfort zones: being employees again. There are many reasons why they “failed” as freelancers one of which is not knowing what it takes to be one. Deciding to be a freelancer is not only a matter of changing careers. It is an emotional investment that involves a change of mindset. It’s not an easy path to take. The road ahead is full of surprises. It is not for everyone.
This article is written for employees who want to venture into a freelance career, but not sure yet if this is for them. Knowing what it’s like to be a freelancer is always a good way of assessing before you actually jump into the freelance frying pan.
Here are five things to keep in mind before deciding for a freelance career. Check to see if freelancing is right for you.
1. Source of Income
One of the nice things about being an employee is the predictability of the pay check. During good times you are sure to receive what was agreed on your employment contract, plus some bonuses for a job well done. When bad times come, Caesar still gets the goodies due to Caesar.
There is none of that in freelancing. Your customer is your source of income. They are the reason you are there providing services, products and expertise. Your income corresponds to the value that you give that they are ready to exchange for money. There are times when your income goes high. And there will be times when your income will reflect a downward slope.
Being a freelancer means playing financial risk. Can you afford to take risks?
2. Nature of Work
A freelance programmer is really more than just a freelance programmer. He is bigger than that. He is a systems analyst, a beta tester, a debugger, an interface designer, a project manager, and he writes the documentation too.
That’s the technical part of his job.
To survive, a freelancer must sometimes endure doing the non-technical stuff. He has to do the paper works like drafting the proposal, updating the Billing Statements, and recording his expenses. The shy type will realize that he must creatively toot his horn to grab some market share. He may also pay someone to make that louder — TOOOOOOTTTT.
That’s the non-technical part of his job. It’s the necessary evil.
How do you feel about non-technical aspect of your work?
3. Professional Advancement
He was all smiles when we saw each other in the mall. Jason went on training to the US. All expenses paid including US salary rate while on a 6-month training. His company will be upgrading all its legacy systems to Java and Oracle.
When you go freelance, you have to do the professional advancements all by yourself. You buy your own books, attend workshops and seminars, or pay for Certification Exams.
How do you plan for professional advancement?
In the corporate world, you have titles like Manager, Supervisor, and Director. Freelancers don’t have any of that. The closest title you will get includes the following:
- Independent Contractor
Is not having a fancy title a big deal for you?
5. Name At Stake
When the manager of a company signs a contract, the company’s name is at stake. They make sure that they will deliver all things stipulated in the document.
When a freelancer signs a contract, he is putting his reputation on the line. His signature becomes a source of power that could make or break him professionally.
Can you afford to do that?