Freelancing has grown as a viable career option in recent years. There are an estimated 53 million people (or 34 percent of the American workforce!) freelancing according to a recent study commissioned by the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk (now Upwork). Since setting out on my own as one of those millions two years ago, a number of people have reached out for advice on whether or not they should do the same. Each of these people often express the same sentiments: "I think I want to freelance. I mean, everything is fine at work but I don't love it." "I'm not sure exactly what skill I'd sell or even if someone would hire me. Getting enough work seems hard." "I have this chicken and egg problem with childcare. I don't want to pay someone to watch my kid if I'm not getting paid myself. Yet, I can't focus on finding and doing work while I'm stuck constantly fetching them crackers." "What do you think?" In response, I typically start with a couple of things I believe to be true about freelancing that help establish the foundation for any "should I..." type of conversation. I captured those key concepts in this short quiz, "Will You Be Happier Freelancing?" If you're so inclined, take the quiz. Then, come back compare and contrast your own beliefs as you tick through the bullets below.
- Self-employment is tremendously rewarding. No matter where the road ends, "picking you" or opting to rely on yourself for a portion of your professional journey is special and rare.
- The number of opportunities out there has no end. The ways to make money are literally endless. There are so, so many. And they morph and change and grow and disappear and reappear on a daily basis. If you're not seeing opportunities, you're not looking. Still uncertain? Reach out to me and I will be happy to speak with you directly for free about where these opportunities might be for your business.
- Along that that same logic string, whatever you have to offer, there is someone who will pay for it.
- Reaching out to a prospective client once and getting no response is not an indicator of your future prospects or value. In fact, it means that your target is distracted, or they're not your right buyer, or they're not buying what you're selling at the moment, or they believe they have another (better, cheaper, more immediate solution) to their problem. Notice that none of these reasons have anything to do you with you.
- Work ebbs and flows in all businesses, in all industries. Coping with the variability requires planning not magical business superpowers. You can do it.
Given these beliefs, it should come as no surprise that when people reach out with questions like the one above, I get all cheerleader-on-the-sidelines excited. Independent work has been deeply rewarding for me and I believe it can be the same for others. I love to see more people get in the game. Believing in yourself and the abundance of waiting opportunities is critical getting the initial courage to leap, and it will also sustain you as you find place and launch. Good luck!