The art of being a freelancer is known by several names; 'Independent Contractor', 'self employer', 'sole proprietor' ... etc but they all mean one thing, 'your the boss'. Freelancing is taking your art, your craft, your skill and profiting from it without the assistance or direction of someone else. Simply being your own boss my sound attractive enough on the sur- face to make you want to jump off of the 'employee bridge' but have you fully considered what being a freelancer means?
I am a freelancer myself so by no means is this a plug to advocate corporate slavedom, I just want to make sure that before you jump you know how high the bridge is.
Lets talk a minute about what it means to be an employee; you have some measure of security (even in today's world), you usually have some form of insurance coverage for medical expenses, you have people trained to handle your income tax deductions and some employers go beyond and offer savings/retirement account contributions ... just to new a few. You can have all of this and more as a freelancer, but you have to pay for it yourself.
So if you have all those assurances as an employee, why does anyone want to be a freelancer? The most common answer is earning potential. As an employee your employer tells you how much he/she is willing to pay you for a certain amount of your time and effort. As a freelancer how much you are being paid isn't predetermined. You have unlimited earning potential as a freelancer whereas an employer will generally be unwilling to pay an unlimited amount for a particular job.
As a freelancer, you get to enjoy the freedom of making all the choices that you can't as an employee but would like to such as; choosing where you work, choosing how long you work and choosing with whom you work ... just to name a few. As an employee, all those factors are predetermined. Should I become a freelancer?
Well, no one can tell you for sure but I can give you some tips and guidelines that you can use to either prepare to be a freelancer or gauge yourself to see if you are ready to be a freelancer.
Have you determined your 'break-even'? After income tax is paid (net), how much money do you need each month to pay all your bills and stock the refrigerator, how much money do you need to 'break-even' (it's a good idea to figure in a cushion for the unexpected)?
What is the likely hood that you'll consistently make an equal or greater figure than the figure from question 1 each month?
Are you willing to or can you reduce your standard of living without sacrificing qual- ity of life (i.e. if you had to, could you lose the cable, the gym membership ... etc)?
Have you educated yourself or secured the resources of someone who can help you with self-employed tax deductions? There are several tax benefits to being self- employed that are substantial enough to take advantage of, you need to be aware of them and use them.
Do you feel that without the direction of an employer you would be able to focus and stay on task and not succumb to the temptations of being lazy and unmotivated?
Do you have a financial cushion? Do you have enough money to survive on without any income for at least 6 months?
The answers to those questions are self explanatory but if you answer 'no' or 'I don't know' to any of them then I would think twice about jumping off the 'employee bridge' right now, go back and evaluate the area that your weak in before you jump. If your rock solid then the only thing anyone can tell you is to 'trust your gut'. For me, freelancing is the best decision I have ever made.
All I can say is that once you jump give it your best effort, don't be to quick to burn your freedom and come back to corporate slavedom.
Ryan Huff is a freelance web developer, technology mentor, martial artist, business developer and an avid internet marketer. You can connect with Ryan at http://rthconsultants.com or follow Ryan at http://twitter.com/rthconsultants.