There are certainly many, many perks of self employment and “being your own boss.” This is especially true in my case because it means I can make my own schedule around the needs of my family of six. When you are self-employed, you get to make the rules (within legal reason) and have unlimited earning potential (theoretically). It’s not a bad gig and you won’t find me complaining.
Most of the time.
My close friends, husband and sister-in-law occasionally have to listen to me vent about the pitfalls of this crazy, unpredictable and sometimes aggravating self-employment thing. Here are the most common pitfalls of freelance writing, and self employment in general:
Pitfalls of Self Employment
1. Constant search for work. Part of your regular work routine is to look for new clients. This is true if you are a freelance writer, or sell designer baby clothing. You are constantly looking for new clients and customers to increase your income. For writers, you may be in the midst of a huge, time-consuming project with a big payoff, but you can’t wait until the project is complete to look for the next one. You need a constant stream of work so that when one project ends, another is ready to begin (or has already started). Sometimes I miss the days where I showed up, someone told me what to do, I did it, I left and I got paid at the end of two weeks. I never had to seek out that work — it was assigned to me. There is a little bit of an emotional toll associated with this constant search, too, because you never feel secure in your earning power.
2. Non-payment. There are things that you can do to protect yourself, but the unfortunate truth is that at one time or another, you may not get paid. It could be something small — like a rejected blog entry that took you 20 minutes to write, or it could be big — like a client who pays you for months on time, then skips out on your final invoice for $200 (you know, as an example). I have a dry erase board next to my desk that tracks my daily earnings. I update it based on the amount of work I complete that day, under the assumption that money will come in later on. That board often determines when I can call it quits for the day, or take a day off, and it’s always unsettling when I have to adjust it by even a little bit because it means I have to re-earn that money again.
3. No escape. Okay, so maybe it is not actually this dramatic — but you will definitely feel this way at some point. I have had to set boundaries with my own work responsibilities, like getting rid of my smartphone and adhering to official office hours, in order to have some separation from my work. If you do not put limits on your time and energy, you will feel like you are working from the moment you wake up (and you start writing your first blog titles of the day in your head that is still on the pillow) to the time you finally fall asleep (and you are reminding yourself to make sure you send out your invoices first thing the next morning to get paid in time to withdraw the money from your PayPal account before you take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese over the weekend). You ARE your business, but remember that your business does not define you. The rest of your life does.
4. Clients. I’ve actually found that almost ALL of the clients I interact with are awesome. Most realize that for the best results, they need to collaborate with me and not micromanage. A few times I have dealt with clients that nit-picked to the point that they could have written the entire thing themselves and saved some money and time. Thankfully these have never been long-term situations, and I can usually spot the signs that tell me to run for the hills early on if there is possibility for long-term work. Sometimes the hoops you need to jump through are truly not worth the money. In another post, Lori gave the wise advise to pick your freelance clients. I second that. You, and your time, deserve respectful clients with reasonable requests.
I have experienced other minor annoyances along the way, but these are my big four pitfalls of freelance writing, and self-employment as a whole. I list them here not to discourage readers but to make them aware, so they may avoid these on their own paths.
What has surprised you the most about self employment?
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Tags: Freelance Friday