Freelancing was never a concept to me before. It was pretty much non-existent, to be honest. I never pictured myself being where I am now. Heck, I couldn’t even picture my future self when I was in high school, much less in college. But this is where I am now – freelancing. So I’d like to share some tidbits about freelancing with you. And you’re probably here for a good reason.
- You’re looking into freelancing but you’re not sure where you’re getting yourself into.
- You’re currently a freelancer and life is so hard and omg am I the only one feeling this so lost and alone…
- You’re simply curious how it is to be a freelancer.
I’m not going to prolong this intro.
Let’s start with the obvious part – the pros.
The Pros of Freelancing
1. Flexible work hours.
You literally can do your own schedule and work at your own pace. No login time, no logout time. No strict lunch breaks, etc. You have your hours and you’re free to do whatever the heck you want as long as you’re meeting your clients’ deadline whether in your pajamas or in your.. boxers. Feeling lazy? Why not watch a bunch of Youtube videos first? Catch up on your favorite vloggers? Or play video games? You can always work later. Hah! What a bliss.
2. Exploring different ventures/horizons.
The thing is, you’re free to explore different fields that you can do. You don’t stick to one job description as a freelancer. Get it?
For example, a fellow freelancer I know is a:
- Graphic/website designer
- Social media manager, and
- Business owner
All. At. The. Same. Time.
If you’re looking into freelancing, you better know how to juggle different balls at the same time. You may not have a boss, but you have numerous clients. And freelancing is not about sticking to one job, to be really honest. One job is not enough to make ends meet, so what do you do? You get more clients.
And that’s where you organize your own work schedule.
Handle Client 1 in the morning, Client 2 in the evening, and Client 3 all throughout the day.
By juggling all these, you get to know your strengths and weaknesses. You learn how to better manage your time. You understand how to work under pressure, how to deal with stress, and, ultimately, how to be a better freelancer – all while learning from the different jobs you’re handling.
3. Working with different clients.
As I mentioned in item #2, you get to explore different industries (writing, design, VA, etc.) so you get to have different sets of clients. And personally, I find this a plus because while you’re stuck in your house or in your go-to coffee shop, you’re still dealing with people. You’re not entirely living in a cave. Note: not entirely.
And most freelancers have foreign clients, which again, is a good thing. Filipinos are balat sibuyas. We are sensitive people, so it’s often hard for us to gulp down strong and direct words. Even if they are not offensive – simply direct – we still get easily offended. Working with people of different races can help you toughen up.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
The first time I worked with this client, I thought he was too professional and direct. I wasn’t used to it. On my first day working for him, I cried because everything was so overwhelming. Now I can look back at my old self and say, “Girl, you look dumb. What are you crying for?”
Oh, and when you get to build really good relationships with your client, they can do wonders for your freelancing career.
4. Dictating your own rate.
It’s nice to call the shots sometimes. You get to say your work’s worth based on your experience, expertise, and sometimes even based on your work ethics alone. If a client offers you a price lower than your average rate, you can always work for it. All your hard work will pay off sooner or later as long as you show your clients you’re in it for the work, not just for the money.
Clients are humans, too. They’re not just “a pseudo boss” or “a client”. They can smell initiative. And when you’re always going the extra mile, they will notice it, sooner or later. And by then, you can tap their shoulders and maybe ask for a raise. After all, you’re giving them their money’s worth.
5. “Me time”.
I’m sure it has occurred to you that freelancers often spend their time by themselves since they have no office, no colleagues. But has it occurred to you that having too much of a “me time” can also do you good? For example, I spend an awful amount of time by myself. Sure, I have friends, I have a boyfriend, I have my family, but more often than not, it’s hard to squeeze in dates and meet ups because of the difference in our schedules.
But being alone more often than not has tremendously helped me know myself better. Because I spend a lot of time by myself, I’m better at picking my dos and don’ts, my preferences, my dislikes, etc. And every time I go to a coffee shop to work, I consider that a date with myself. Win-win!
6. Becoming wiser with money.
You’re probably wondering why I have this on the list. But listen. As I mentioned earlier, freelancing is no easy feat. Aside from the competition with other freelancers, there’s no stability (unless you scored a big client for a long-term project). Having limited money makes you frugal and much, much wiser with your expenses compared when you’re having a steady stream of income and all your personal thingamajigs (SSS, health insurance, etc.) are topped up on a monthly basis.
On some days, you get work nonstop. On some, you literally have no work to do. And that’s not a good sign. No work = no money. When you have a limited budget but nonstop bills to pay, you learn to value your money more. It seems like your cash is always equivalent to the number of hours you work.
So there, that’s how freelancing actually helps you become wiser with your moolah.
Now let’s go to the gross part – the cons.
I know, I know. This is longer than expected. Jeez, okay, fine, this is ridiculously long, period. No point denying that. But I’m sure this would be helpful for some of you, so let’s get to it.
1. No income stability / Delayed paychecks.
As I mentioned earlier, and which you would know by now, freelancing is a HUGE, huge risk. You may be working out of passion, but what if that passion runs out? What if you can no longer live off freelancing here and there. What if no clients are coming your way anymore? That’s the scariest of them all. Be grateful if you’re still living with your parents or you have a partner who’s willing to shell out cash while you scout for clients. But what if you live alone?
Let’s make it worse.
You’re married, therefore more bills to pay.
You have kids. Hmm, 2 kids?
School is about to start soon.
WHERE ARE YOU GETTING MONEY FOR THEIR TUITION?
Before we all panic (because I’m starting to), this is not to discourage you from freelancing. I’m just giving you a reality check. It ain’t pretty, so if you’re considering ditching your day job to freelance, you gotta know these things. And you gotta think hard about it.
I myself have experienced not being able to buy anything at all for weeks because I have no more money left and the client still hasn’t paid. I’m just grateful I’m still living with my parents. Otherwise, I doubt if I’d still have 2 kidneys today. Kidding! Sort of.
Oh, and while we’re discussing this “no income stability” part, can I mention that the clients/agencies kinda add to that because delays.
2. Judgment from others. LOTS of judgments.
So what do you do?
I’m a freelancer.
You mean.. you don’t have a job?
No, I do have a job. It’s just home-based. I freelance. I have no boss.
Oh. Okay. Nice.
People have this misconception that freelancers are house bums. Well, technically, in a way, yes, we are, because we’re always home. Technically. But it doesn’t mean we don’t work. It’s just.. we have our time to ourselves! And we can decide when we want to work and when we want to lay around. So maybe you’re noticing all our free time, but you don’t really see us working.
But one thing you can trust freelancers with – they’re hardworking AF.
Why? It’s simple. Freelancing seldom has stability, unlike most corporate jobs. So you gotta grind harder, faster. Gotta keep those clients coming.
Freelancing comes with a price. People won’t always understand that you’d rather stay home because traffic, because shitty bosses, because underpayment yet overworking, because.. stuff.
Some judgments I heard from others since I started working freelance:
- Don’t you want to work in a real office?
- Do you even get paid for that?
- “Writer”. Sheesh.
It sucks because I hear this from people who I’m constantly with. But if you’re determined to do something, you’re just gonna shrug off the nasty comments and focus on you, you know?
3. Household chores + Work.
GUYS, listen. It is not easy to juggle household chores and work at the same time, yo.
Imagine being in the moment, like having all these words in your head ready to be tapped on the keyboard and there’s this one simple household chore that just can’t wait, so you go ahead and attend to it. You come back to your chair, hands on the keyboard, but the words have escaped you already.
I hate, hate, hate when this happens.
Sometimes I wake up and the first thought in my head is, “I want to work.” But I can’t because I have dogs to attend to, mess to clean up, etc. So you make work wait. That or you work first and deal with all the household chores later. Let’s not even get started with holidays.
Corporate slaves, as they say, love holidays. Time to unwind, staycation here, quick long weekend getaway there.
On the other hand, I grab holidays by the balls. I take these as an opportunity to work more since most of my clients are foreigners/ Filipinos living abroad. But nope, when it’s a holiday, it’s a holiday in the entire household. What are you gonna do about that?
4. No consistent clients.
Again, you can’t always have clients all the time. So what do you do? You go out and hunt. If they’re not coming to you, you go and find them yourselves. It’s not easy to close a deal because it takes several emails back and forth, decisions-decisions, and then you work before getting paid. The usual. So when you need money later, you work now.
Plus, it’s way better to (finish your) work ASAP since we talked about the delay of payments.
So yeah, more often than not, you adjust to the situation. Not the other way around.
5. Feeling forced to say YES to every project.
Freelancing can be exhausting especially when you’re handling different clients giving you different job assignments. Because you’re not really sure when you’re gonna get your next big gig, you sometimes feel forced to say YES to every client who contacts you.
This is a little self-deprecating at times. You feel forced to say yes to projects you don’t like just to make ends meet.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. That rarely happens, honestly.
So when you’re considering freelancing, be ready to handle jobs you don’t like.
I know corporate jobs can be the same.
So I know you understand what I’m saying here. After all, every job has its pros and cons.
6. You forget how to socialize.
Freelancing can bring out the anti-social in you. It really depends, actually. But in my case, the longer I stay home, the more that I forget how to human. It suddenly feels weird when I go out to join a huge crowd, and I forget how it feels to talk with another human being.
It can literally feel weird just to open my mouth and say words. I consider train rides, jeepney rides, or any other commute an adventure because I don’t do it often. The smallest thing can be an adventure when you stay in the house for too long and when you go out, you see the sunshine again.
7. [Additional Item] Filing your own taxes.
It’s hard enough to figure out all the adulting stuff on your own once you graduate, what more filing your own taxes?
TAXES. Huge word. Scary enough on its own.
Freelancing is great. It can be fun, too, but one downside of it is doing your own taxes. Unless you have a bunch of people working for you, you need to do the legwork yourself. And it doesn’t help that you see articles online but most of them are outdated or downright unhelpful.
Stressful? Frustrating? Bothersome?
Yes, I know, but it’s obligation as a citizen, too. Don’t forget about that. Just because you don’t have a cubicle and an office pantry, you’re getting away that easily.
So you have no choice but to experience it yourself.
There’s always a first time anyway. But bring lots of patience with you, you’ll be needing it! With the kind of government we have, don’t expect that it would be a breeze for you.
And please, no shortcuts. You know what I mean.
Don’t even get me started on going back because you weren’t informed you needed this or that document…
[item suggested by Summer Reyes-Carullo]
So that’s about it. These are the pros and cons I could think of based on my personal experiences. Of course, I can’t say the same for everyone. Freelancers are not one and the same in all aspects so our lives still differ in more ways than one.
What are your thoughts about this blog post? I’d like to know them.
Have you tried freelancing yourself? How was your experience?
Or are you looking into freelancing? What are your expectations? Your fears?
If you have any more pros or cons to add, do let me know! I might just add them and link your blog while at it. 😉
As usual, I hope you learned a thing or two from this blog post.
Til the next one!
Bae is a 20-something passion blogger from Manila. She likes hoarding hobbies and trying out new stuff, blogging about her mundane adventures, and tweeting about random realizations and musings.