Freelancing from home – the job you never leave behind

On the whole, I am extremely happy being a freelancer. I can’t really imagine myself working for another single company again. I won’t say never – I just can’t see ever wanting to change the way things are right now. I have a huge amount of flexibility and I can’t see anyone ever giving me that as part of a “full time” job. I also like having different clients to work for – which equates to working on all different types of projects. At the last real “full time” job I had – there was a lot about that position that was so repetitive. I felt like I was starting to go numb. I felt like maybe web design/development wasn’t really what I wanted to do. What I found out after going freelance – it’s not that I didn’t like doing web design and development – I just didn’t like doing it there. Under those circumstances.

That said – there are some significant downsides about freelancing and working from home that can really start to get you down if you let it.

1) You never get to leave your job and go home.
My home IS the office. And maybe the secondary issue here is that my “hobby” is just an extension of my job – messing around on the computer. Reading stuff online, playing on Facebook, or Twitter. The only time I come close to completely unplugging is when I exercise. Even then, I’m usually listening to music on my iPhone – which means it’s possible that a client could call me (although thankfully that doesn’t happen a lot). When I take a class (Zumba!) then I’ll mute my phone and am completely unreachable.

But for the most part, I’m always “on call” – I check email regularly. And I do work evenings and weekends. This is definitely a dangerous path I’m headed, I know. There are bright red neon signs all over the place that are flashing “YOU WILL BURNOUT!” – and I feel that I probably straddle this line more than steer clear of it.

2) Working Harder – For Less
When I had a full time job, I had worked myself up position-wise and salary-wise to a very comfortable earning. The problem was that I had virtually no flexibility. Flexibility costs. A lot. Juggling school and day care and still trying to put in a full shift is difficult at best. Maybe there’s employers that understand that and accept that you will be “doing more but in less hours,” or that the hours will be put in over the course of the day AND NIGHT. I didn’t feel I was getting that level of understanding, and that is part of the reason why I opted to go freelance (after taking about a year off after DS was born. If I lived in a country where a year maternity leave was a standard offered by companies – maybe I wouldn’t have left my full time job)

I still feel like my days are a never ending race. I race the kids to school, then I race home to work, squeeze as much as I can in the roughly 6 hours – then race to do after school pickups – try to squeeze in a little more work – but also balancing homework help – then rush to make dinner, clean up, bedtime – before you know it, it’s 10pm – and I can squeeze in maybe an hour of work before I fall flat on my face. All this – for the wonderful price of 40% LESS than what I was making when I was working full time. That’s based on what I was making 4 years ago. If you figure, if I had stayed, I probably would have gotten a few bonuses, some raises, then you’re talking an even bigger gap.

Yet, I feel like I’m working just as hard.

It’s not all doom and gloom. It is extremely rewarding to “be your own boss.” I like that if a project comes my way that just absolutely turns my stomach – I can turn it down if I want to. And I have. My family lives out-of-state and I can go and visit them whenever I can afford the ticket and want to go – without having to get vacation time approved by anyone. (However, I have YET to do this where it didn’t involve spending some of the time working while I was visiting them.) Not to mention – in this economy especially – while I may be making a lot less than I was before, I am still bringing in some money and still have a steady in-flow of work. So I’m not complaining about that!

It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. But like I said, I wouldn’t change it.



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