WHENEVER a family member or friend would ask me to discuss the pros and cons of freelancing, I always tell them that this type of career has its advantages and anxieties. I rarely share with them that freelancing has its disadvantages.
For me, freelance work has no disadvantage because a disciplined, motivated, and skilled worker can always turn negative thoughts and worries into strengths. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic making it harder (and scarier) for some people to commute to work every day, online freelancing or a Work From Home setup is the best option to still earn your keep.
But before diving and immersing yourself in full-time freelance work, let me list down its advantages and anxieties.
ADVANTAGE: Flexible Schedule
Most of the time, you get to choose what time you wake up to do work as a freelancer. Some wear pajamas while on a meeting, while some would multitask cooking and cleaning the house in between client projects.
As long as you meet deadlines, freelancers rarely worry about making it to the 8:00 a.m. day job and fighting through the chaos of the morning rush. Choose a shift that would be the most advantageous to you, whether it’s a day shift or a graveyard shift, and you’re all set to earn for the family.
ANXIETY: Maintaining Work-Life Balance
The sad truth about remote work and online freelancing is that it follows you everywhere you go as long as there is an internet connection. While you probably save one to two hours every day from commuting, there are plenty of distractions at home than in the office. There’s a crying baby or a naughty pet that can distract your focus anytime.
Sometimes, your boss would be nagging past the usual work hours and you have to be firm in telling them that you only work at this particular hour. To turn things around, maintain a Work-Life Balance by setting up a distraction-free workspace, keeping a scheduled work time, unplugging once you’re done with the shift, and most importantly, observing a day-off or a weekends-off schedule. Spend it for some pampering time or some quality time with your friends and family.
ADVANTAGE: Higher Income Potential
Given the flexibility of remote work, you can take multiple clients and online jobs and open up multiple income streams. You can have two to five jobs at the same time. If you master time management (which I will discuss later), it is not impossible to earn six-figure salaries. Freelancers also get to earn in dollars (and its advantage of higher dollar-peso conversion) without even going abroad.
ANXIETY: Unstable Income
While the salaries of many online freelancers are mostly above minimum wage, earning streams also remain volatile. A client may abruptly end or suddenly pause a contract. Some clients may even ghost you. So before delving into freelance work, you better get your client to sign a contract to set expectations and manage your time and resources wisely.
Price your skills competitively based on your qualifications. Don’t undersell your skills and experience and learn to keep an emergency fund just in case one contract ends. For some veteran freelancers, we maintain multiple clients so that if one contract ends, we have a few more contracts that would help make ends meet while looking for another client.
ADVANTAGE: Working From Anywhere
For online freelancers, working anywhere means working in an area where there’s a strong and stable internet connection. Another concern is electricity as some provinces in the Philippines have unreliable power supply and unscheduled power interruptions.
To address this, many freelancers have backup batteries and an internet connection, and even generators and solar panels installed in their homes to assure clients that work never stops even with these power and internet setbacks. For the majority of online freelancers, however, they can just bring laptops on the road to the nearest café, mall, and beach or bring their phones and iPads to get work done.
ANXIETY: Finding Clients
The first challenge often encountered by newbie freelancers is finding a client. Clinching that first online job is often so challenging and at times frustrating. But once you start getting jobs and slowly build experience and your portfolio, it is the client that will find you and not the other way around.
Either through recommendations from present and former clients or by sending applications in online freelancing marketplaces such as Upwork, Onlinejobs.ph, Fiverr, among other platforms, finding a client is quite easy if you know your niche in the freelancing industry. Continue to upskill and show flexibility in learning new technology and finding another client will never be a problem. Just be patient and stay focused on your goals.
ADVANTAGE: Variety of Projects
With online freelancing, you get to wear many hats. Some freelance accountants are also writers and consultants, some doctors are chat support workers and e-commerce sellers, while some graphic artists are video editors and transcriptionists. Compared to having one boring and repetitive office job from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., many online freelancers are able to do a variety of part-time work. For me, I often package myself as a writer, editor, SEO consultant, video editor, digital marketer, and e-commerce seller among many other odd jobs I get to do once in a while. There’s nothing that can stop you from working different trades as a freelancer. There’s also no limit to the nationalities of clients you get to work with from Americans, Australians, and Canadians to German and French clients. You get to work with all of them once you go freelance.
ANXIETY: Time Management
With plenty of time and a wide array of work opportunities for online freelancers, it is often hard to manage an organized schedule. I am usually a victim of this. I am guilty of taking more work than my time (and sometimes my body) can handle.
When I was starting out, I loved working even during weekends. But I realized that all work without any rest is unhealthy. So I limited my work hours to just 8 to 10 hours per day and divided it among my clients from Mondays to Fridays. Weekends are non-negotiable, my days off. I keep a tab of my schedule through a mobile app or simply jot down important meetings in a desk calendar. If we have managed to study multiple subjects during our school years, it wouldn’t be a problem to also do varied tasks throughout the day.
Want to read more Freelancer columns? Click HERE.