On the laptop

With many companies downsizing due to the current economic conditions, some people are looking to take matters into their own hands. Some of these potential entrepreneurs are thinking about opening businesses of their own, including a few who want to try their hand at freelancing. This could take on the form of freelance web design, freelance graphic design, freelance consulting, freelance writing, and any number of other possible pursuits. They see the grass as being greener on the other side, so they want to give it a try.

Perhaps you are one of these people, but you are unsure about whether a career in freelancing is right for you. As with any other kind of job with any other kind of work arrangement, there are some people who may be ill-suited for a freelance career. Do any of these criteria fit your mold?

Must Have Stable Income

By and large, most conventional jobs will offer you a stable salary and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, you can expect your paycheque to look the same each time you receive it. Freelancers typically cannot expect this kind of stability, not only because of the ebb and flow of projects, but also because the payment schedule that some clients may require. This can be particularly true for larger projects where you may only receive a large lump sum upon completion.

After a while, you may be able to generate a reasonably stable monthly income, but this is not something that you can take for granted as a freelancer. As such, you have to be disciplined enough not to need a stable income, just in case you have a few months where things don’t go your way.

Thrives on Office Interaction

I work from home, as do most other freelancers. As such, there is certainly the potential for a lonely experience during the majority of the work day. Yes, I can still interact with people over the phone and through Twitter, but the co-worker camaraderie that you would typically experience in a regular office is definitely lacking.

Don’t get me wrong. I can still go out on the weekends with my friends and I can head out during the day to work from the coffee shop, but the level of human interaction can be quite a bit lower for people with a freelance career than those who work in a “normal” office. To overcome this, some freelancers choose to pass their days at shared workspaces with other freelancers and contractors.

Requires a Good Deal of Supervision

Given the opportunity, do you slack off at work? Given the opportunity, would you chat with your friends on Facebook rather than completing those TPS reports? I think we all face these kinds of distractions and these chances for procrastination, but they are even more prevalent working from home as a freelance writer. There isn’t someone breathing down your neck. There isn’t a co-worker looking over your shoulder, even if casually. You don’t have those peering eyes that provide the pressure to keep you on-task.

It can be challenging to keep productive in the absence of supervision and I speak from experience. Supervision can be good for pushing you along at a more expedient pace, but freelancers don’t have that. In this way, you have to find a way to motivate yourself and to keep yourself working even when you don’t have to do so.

Freelancing Isn’t for Everyone

As with any other kind of career, freelancing isn’t for everyone. I don’t think that I would do very well in the high-pressure sales environment of Wall Street and I don’t think I’d survive too long in the emotion-filled wards of an emergency hospital.

I do think, however, that I am well-suited for the role of a freelancer. I feel that I am able to live without a perfectly stable income, a lot of co-worker interaction, and a team of supervisors keeping me on-task. This may not be the case for you, but don’t despair. Our parachutes are all different colours; you just have to find yours.