Can You Escape Your Job to Become a Freelancer?

become a freelancerA lot of people dream about leaving their day jobs – I know that I’m one of them.  And one of the most popular routes that people take when they leave their job is to become a freelancer or a consultant.  While building up a solid freelance business can help you leave your job, does it really provide the freedom of leaving the rat race?  Let’s take a look…

 

The Perks of Freelancing

There are so many perks when it comes to freelancing.  Just look at awesome stories from people like Tom at Leaving Work Behind or Matt at Life Without Pants.  Both of these guys have highlighted the many perks that come with starting a successful freelance business.  These include working on your own time and terms, not having to answer to a boss, and, in Matt’s case, not having to wear pants…

You get the joke, but it is true – if the biggest torture of your day job is having to put on a suit and tie everyday, commuting to the office, and grinding away and menial paperwork, then freelance sure looks like it has a lot of perks.  You set your agenda, you decide when and how you want to work.  You decide the location.  You decide the customer if you really want to.

You not obligated to anything.  You want to tell someone to fuck off, go for it.  While it may not be the smartest business move, who cares?!?!  You’re the only one you have to answer to, and from my experience in dining or shopping at mom and pop stores, a lot of people have been very successful in business while saying whatever they feel like to their customers.

 

The Challenges of Being a Freelancer

Just because there are a lot of positives doesn’t meant there are many challenges you’re going to need to address as you go along.  First, you need to acquire customers.  This means marketing, developing a solid product, and building a customer base.  Sounds easy, but it isn’t.  You may have the best product in the world, but the internet isn’t always a meritocracy, and you need to adapt.

You’re going to need to work hard at some points.  You’re going to need to wear a lot of different hats.  Being a freelancer means that you’re now the one who has to produce, but at the same time you’re answering phones, responding to emails, doing bookkeeping, maybe doing a little web development, and more.

While you can outsource many of these tasks, you still have to find someone to outsource them to, train them how to do it, and follow up.

Are you seeing the common theme here: you!

Being a freelancer means that the whole business relies on you.  If you’re sick, you may not make any money, and that could spell trouble.  If you’re not getting customers, you could be in trouble.  If you’re not constantly promoting your business, you could be in trouble.

Once again, the common theme here is you! 

 

Did You Really Escape?

So, now you need to ask yourself the real question – is becoming a freelancer a real escape from the rat race?  Is it the path towards creating your ideal lifestyle?

For some – yes, it can be the answer.  If the reason you hate your job is the commute and your boss, this could be the “job” for you.  You work from home, you work for yourself, and if you don’t mind putting in the time, you’ll be wildly happy doing it.

But for others, including myself, freelancing wasn’t the answer.  It’s a step along the path to truly beating the nine to five.  Freelancing is a great side hustle.  Freelancing can provide a great income stream. But freelancing doesn’t truly provide financial freedom so that you can beat the rat race.

Freelancing, by itself, also isn’t the way to become a soloprenuer.  Freelancing is a task driven way to make money.  Entrepreneurship is a passive way to make money from the past work you did.  My ideal escape is to work hard, put in the time and effort necessary to create and build something that will resonate with people, and then let the residual effect of that propel me into the future.

Solo entrepreneurship doesn’t mean not  working either.  I fully plan to continue to work – just on projects I choose.  I hope to continue to develop my multiple income streams, and let them provide the financial freedom to pursue what I want to, when I want to.  I think that is the real escape.  If I want to freelance, I can.  If I don’t want to, I don’t have to.

Is becoming a freelancer a real escape from your day job?

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Comments

  1. I agree with you that freelancing is only a step. Take enough steps and income might cross your dayjob threshold. But work at it for a while first! It took me 3 years of being very consistent. 3 years should be enough to make a good decision.

    Best, Sam

  2. Very interesting perspective Robert. As someone who’s in the throws of quitting my job to take my freelancing business full time, I have definitely experienced many of your points here. The main reason I’m quitting is for freedom, so I can focus on my personal and family life instead of letting my FT job take first place. But I agree that freelancing shouldn’t be considered an “escape” from the day job — it’s only a vehicle to help bridge the gap to your ultimate goal of running your own business (or whatever else you want).

  3. Hi Robert,

    Yup, freelancing is the first step.
    The next step is to create a team around your freelance business and put in the system to make it an auto pilot business.
    Not an easy task but it is worth the effort.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree that it can become quite exhausting to start with freelancing. Sure, at first it works out really well. I made a couple hundred my first month or two on freelance sites. Then, opportunities (real ones) just kind of fell off the face of the Earth. However, starting with freelancing is what gets you going. You start to wonder, “Hey, if all these jobs are out there, then there must be room for something new,” and that’s when you start thinking of starting your own business, or even making freelancing a full-time job. I takes a lot of work, but if anyone can make it happen, as said in your article, it’s “YOU!”

  5. Really a business is just a problem solving service, and if you can find a problem to solve for enough people, you can make a lot of money.

    One thing that holds freelancers back is the fact most of their money is made by working with clients 1-on-1. Therefore, they are limited by hours in the day.

    On the other hand if you make your solution into a system, you can create reproduce it into products and then scale. This, of course, allows you to sell to many more customers. And if you build those customers into a community, they will keep coming back for everything you put out.

    -Jake

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