Don’t Be Freelance If…

Header for listicle about good reasons not to be freelance

“Don’t freelance to make a living, freelance to make a life.”

– Joel Klettke

I’m always espousing the benefits of freelancing and why I love it. Work anywhere! Set your own schedule! Say no to projects you don’t want to do! And it’s true – freelance life is awesome in so many ways.

But it’s also not for everyone. Have you ever wondered if you should be freelance? Well, here are five great reasons NOT to take the plunge!

Don’t be freelance if…

…you can’t deal with income fluctuations.

In the months I’ve been a full time freelancer, I’ve had months where I made close to £4K and months where I barely scraped past £2k. It’s just the nature of this game. Part of being a freelancer is planning for the feast-or-famine cycle. That means saving money when things are good, and having a plan to source more work when things take a dip.

But if you need a steady income that is completely predictable every month, don’t be freelance.

…you hate working alone

I love working alone. Always have. I’m fundamentally quite introverted and need a lot of my own space anyway, so solitary working is a dream for me. Obviously I touch base with clients during the week and even join networking meetings (all online at the moment, of course) to get some human connection. But the actual work? Just me, a laptop, a cup of coffee, and a closed door is absolute bliss.

Chances are, as a freelancer, you’ll spend a lot of time working alone. If you can’t imagine work without the camaraderie of office mates, you’re likely not cut out to be a freelancer. Unless you spend a significant chunk of money on a coworking space each month, of course.

…you hate networking

Chances are you’re going to have to network as a freelancer, at least at first. Networking is one of the best ways to find clients and make connections. If you really can’t stand networking or bring yourself to do it, you’re likely to struggle as a freelancer. Sure, you might find all your work from applying to ads on freelance sites, but I wouldn’t count on it.

People you know are your most likely source of lucrative gigs, interesting projects, and stellar referrals. And how do you get to know people when you work for yourself? Yup – networking.

…if you can’t imagine bringing work home

I’m a big fan of boundaries and am always telling my freelance friends and readers that they need to draw clear boundaries between work time and not-work time. Sometimes I even practice what I preach (sometimes…)

But freelancing inevitably makes those boundaries blurry, at least some of the time. Unless you have a room in your home that you ONLY use for work and can close the door on at the end of the day, use a separate phone number, and don’t have any of your work emails or social media accounts on your personal phone, you’re going to experience a crossover between work and home life.

If you need absolute separation, you might be better off remaining an employee and working for a company with very, very good boundaries (which they should all have, but a lot of them don’t.)

…if you want to work for 4 hours a week

This isn’t the first time I’ve got grumpy about the idea that freelancers make a tonne of money for almost no work, and it won’t be the last. Honestly, I blame the so-called “gurus” with Instagram-perfect lives and eye-wateringly expensive courses, crowing about how they “only worked an hour todayyyyy but made $$$$! #hashtagblessed.”

This isn’t real. It’s social media hype designed to sell you something. Freelancing is brilliant but it’s also damn hard work, and if you go into it expecting to be rolling in dough in exchange for a few measly hours a week… yeah, no. Not how this works.

Why do you want to be freelance?

That’s the question I’d ask anyone who is wondering whether to take the plunge. Do you want to be your own boss, enjoy an at-least-theoretically uncapped earning potential, and do something you love – all without needing to put on a suit and go into the office every day? If so, have at it. But be realistic, too. Know yourself and know what you’re getting yourself in for.

If you’re not cut out for this life, there’s no shame in that. We all thrive differently and it’s not for everyone.

What do you want to know about being freelance? You can always tweet me or drop me a comment below to ask.

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Katy Tonks
4 months ago

Great post Jess. I’m in two minds at the minute whether to continue with my freelance business or not. I was very intrigued to read what you think and freelance works fine with with me, in a lot of these points. However, the irregularities in pay on a monthly basis is one huge issue