In these days of high unemployment, words like “entrepreneur” and “freelancer” are on many people’s lips. The freelance life can sound like a dream come true: no boss, set your own hours and your own rates, work when you want and don’t bother when you’re not in the mood. Unfortunately, with that life comes some disadvantages as well. As it turns out, mortgage companies, landlords and utilities aren’t interested in whether you were in the mood last week or even whether you struggled to find clients. In many ways, the freelance life requires you to be even more responsible than you were as an employer.
Despite these potential drawbacks, the idea still holds a great deal of allure, and freelancing today has an additional perk that has never existed before. Thanks to the Internet and the ability to stay connected across time zones and distances, work is often not location-dependent. While some clients still want to be able to meet with freelancers in their offices and some contracts even require some face time, companies are increasingly more interested in getting the best work at the best prices. If it’s possible for them to get quality work done on time, they often don’t care if the freelancer is in Manila, the south of France or Pittsburgh. This leads many a would-be freelancer to dreams of sitting on a sunny beach somewhere with a tablet in hand, working away with breaks to throw a Frisbee around or take a dip in sparkling waters.
Even for freelancers who would prefer to remain in one place, however, the flexibility can be appealing. Freelancers with small children can often work around their children’s sleep and school schedules without paying for expensive day care. Freelancers can begin a slow-cooking meal or a load of laundry rather than trying to cram in all these tasks outside of standard work hours.
The freelance life is not for everyone though. It requires a temperament suited to risk-taking and a great deal of self-discipline. How do the real numbers break down for the freelancing life? Do freelancers tend to enjoy it? What are their challenges? Most importantly for some, what kind of money do they make?