Why I Won’t Freelance
Freelancing isn’t for everyone.
After one long and miserable year of employment, I decided that the answer to all my problems was self employment.
Specifically, I was looking to make a career out of my writing.
I started with a blog then dipped my toes into the world of freelance writing. I signed up for platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. I pitched and then pitched some more. I was beginning to make a decent income on the side.
A few months later, I told my mom I was planning to quit my full time job and start a business offering writing services.
But after a few particularity horrible experiences with clients, after enduring unreasonable demands and heckling over prices and receiving a phone call at 11:00pm when I was sleeping, I decided that perhaps, freelancing was not right for me after all.
For awhile, it felt pretty terrible to admit this. I kept trying to lie to myself. I told myself that I could do it. I told myself I had to do it if I ever wanted to be a writer.
But the truth is. . .
I still want to make a living out of writing.
Just not as a freelancer.
I make sure that I take the time to create, at least something, nearly everyday. I want to be a writer. I want to write essays and books and journals and articles. I want this to be my life. I need it to be my life.
But I also find that I do, as much as it pains me to admit it, enjoy some of the perks of traditional employment.
I like that at the end of the day I can power down and push my work away for the rest of my remaining hours.
I like that I have the freedom to enjoy my hobbies and pursue my passion projects without trying to make money out of it.
I like that I have the weekends to rest and recharge. I like that I can shut off my phone at ten o’clock and not worry about a barrage of phone calls from angry, demanding clients. I like sick pay and holiday pay. I like seeing people each day.
Of course, there are plenty of things that I don’t like about traditional employment too.
I don’t like the commute.
I dislike having to dress up to sit in front of my computer all day.
I dislike meetings and office politics and overbearing bosses.
I dislike the lack of flexibility, the notion that I have to be there from 8–4 each day, that my worth is measured based on the time spent in the office. Mostly, I dislike that, as an adult, I have to ask permission for vacations and personal days and doctors appointments from another adult.
There are as many things to dislike as there are to like about traditional employment.
And so I hope that one day we confront the issues at hand. That we demand better pay and benefits for workers and provide better protections.
I hope that the 40 hour workweek goes away in favor for something more sustainable and flexible. I hope that healthcare becomes universal. Mostly, I hope that the notion of universal base income catches on so that everyone is not so reliant on jobs that no longer offer any security or are completely useless.
But clearly, that’s not coming to fruition in the foreseeable future.
So what’s a girl to do?
If I don’t see myself as a freelancer and I can’t stomach the idea of being an employee for the rest of my life what are my options?
A Potential Solution:
For now, I am toying with the idea of a healthy mixing of the two.
Part time employee. Part time self employment.
Why this blend?
Because a part time job would provide me with some of the benefits of traditional employment, while simultaneously giving me the flexibility and time to pursue my witting career.
A part time job means that I can pay my bills. It means that I do not fall victim to the feast and famine cycle. It means that I miss out on late night phone calls. It provides just enough stability.
It also gives me the ability to explore different paths. I can try out retail. I can try out medical careers, teaching careers, behavioral health, or any of the other things that interest me.
Perhaps, within one of these pursuits I may find something else that I’m good at. I may find a tangible career path. I may find that perfect something.
But if I don’t?
That’s okay too. I’ll continue to work to pay my bills while spending my free time on what’s most important to me.
That’s my solution. For now.
Because let’s be honest here, freelancing can suck.
And it’s not for everyone.
It’s not the only option for writers.
I think that we need to stop trying to sell freelancing as the solution to all of our current employment problems. I think we need to stop pretending it’s the only way to make a career out of writing.
Sure, there are plenty of perks to freelancing, but there are also plenty of downsides to self employment.
Right now, we live in a world that values freelancers very little and extends very little protections.
No healthcare. No disability. No sick or holiday pay. Taxes suck.
Let me say it again: freelancing isn’t for everyone.
Especially if you don’t want to deal with deadlines or clients or lack of stability.
Those can all take a toll just as much as a toxic workplace can.
So until we work to solve the current problems plaguing our working worlds, there may a better solution for those who crave some stability, but also long for flexibility and an escape from corporatism: part time employment with just a dash of our creative, passion, or entrepreneurial pursuits on the side.