I’m not going to lie – there are plenty of advantages to freelance work.
Many people talk about the “freelance lifestyle”, and they’re right – in several ways, it’s a way of life, not just a way of work. But while I enjoy all the advantages of freelance life (choosing my own hours, wearing whatever I want at work, etc.) I’ve noticed that there are also plenty of disadvantages. The freelance life isn’t all cocktails at the beach. Actually, it pretty much never is.
So, before you toss away your corporate role with your guaranteed pay packet, regular hours, Friday night co-worker functions, and other perks, I invite you to join me as I consider some of the disadvantages of freelance life…
Tech Support is on you
When you’re a freelancer, you’re responsible for every aspect of your business. There are many non-writing skills I’ve needed as a freelance copywriter. One of them is tech support.
Now I’m good with computers. I really am. But that doesn’t make being my own tech support a walk in the park.
Case in point: A week ago, I sat down to my computer on a Monday morning only to find that my work emails were no longer arriving. I’d recently changed web servers, and my email apps needed to be updated. Ok, fine. That was to be expected. But I couldn’t login to my new server to get the details I needed to make the change. That was not expected. Despite some fairly prompt customer support from my server provider, the problem took until nearly 11am to solve. And I was yet to shower or eat breakfast. That meant that several hours of my working day – several potential income-earning hours – were entirely wasted. And frankly, that sucks.
It might seem silly to point out, but when you’re a freelancer, you’re flying solo. You don’t have any co-workers, and while there are some pretty obvious advantages to this, there are also disadvantages.
For starters, it means that when things aren’t going right at work, you don’t have someone to talk to about it. Actually, even when things are going well or great, you don’t have someone to talk to about it. No one gets to share the joy or the pain. You also can’t turn to someone with more experience when you have a problem, or ask another person for their take on the matter. You’re on your lonesome. And sometimes, that’s not so fun.
If You’re Sick, You Don’t Get Paid
There’s no two ways about it – this one really does suck. If you get sick, no one can cover for you. That means the work doesn’t get done. And that means you don’t get paid. If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to work despite being sick. But that has obvious disadvantages, and even dangers, too. The being-sick-conundrum is probably my least favourite thing about being a freelancer.
Money and the Feast/Famine Cycle
The scariest thing about the freelance life is that your income isn’t guaranteed. No one hands you a contract and says “sign here and we’ll pay you $83,000 a year”. You take jobs as they come. And in your quieter moments, you worry about the day they might stop coming. On top of that, there’s the problem of late invoices, which I’ve written about before.
Of course, the reality is that things are almost always ok – they almost always work out. But if you’re prone to worrying too much, then frankly, the freelance life isn’t for you.
So there you have it – a look at the unglamorous side of the freelance life. Are you surprised, or did you expect it? And if you’re a fellow freelancer, am I right, do I exaggerate, or do I downplay things? Have your say, and excuse me while I go work in my oh-so-comfy pyjamas 😉