20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Freelancer

We’ve all read countless articles on the reasons you should consider freelancing.

They often make it out like anyone still working in the corporate world is just a schmuck with no ambition. But the truth is, there are plenty of reasons not to start freelancing.

Below are twenty such reasons, all laid out so you can make an informed decision about whether freelancing is really something you want to do in your career.

There’s nothing wrong with staying in a corporate job, just as there’s nothing wrong with setting out on your own. But it’s a choice every designer and developer needs to make for themselves.

One note: when we talk about “corporate jobs”, we’re talking mostly about design firms with multiple employees (whether they’re corporations or not), but most of it also applies to in-house design teams at large companies.


1. You Think It Will Be Easier Than a Corporate Job

A lot of people considering freelancing think it will be easier than their current corporate job. After all, they’ll only have to take on projects they want to take on, they won’t have a boss or coworkers to deal with, and they’ll be able to set their own hours.

But most freelancers, when the first start out at least, aren’t able to be too picky about the work they take on. And while they don’t have coworkers or a boss to deal with, that means they also don’t have anyone to turn to if they get stuck on a project.

There are still clients to deal with, too. And the whole thing about setting your own hours pretty much just means you can choose which sixteen hours in the day you want to work when you’re getting started.


2. You Don’t Have Much Experience

If you’re just getting out of school, you may not have much experience to draw on. And there are a couple of reasons why experience is more important when you’re a freelancer.

First of all, you’ll need a portfolio to show prospective clients if you want them to hire you. While you can always use personal projects, it’s also good if you have at least a few sites in your portfolio that you completed for other people (bonus points if they’re not friends or family). This shows a prospective client that you’re legitimate, and that you’ve had happy clients in the past.

The other reason is that experience proves to both you and the client that you’re capable of finishing projects. If you’ve never done anything but personal projects, there’s no indication that you’ll be able to finish a project.

Freelance designers need to be able to handle client requests and revisions, as there will almost always be things your client wants to change, no matter how great your initial design is. And until you’ve finished a client project, you don’t even have any proof that you have what it takes to work with clients.


3. You Have No Business Sense

When you’re freelancing, you generally don’t have anyone around to handle invoicing, collections, marketing, PR, and the myriad other tasks that corporate design firms handle for you. These are all things you’ll need to deal with yourself when you start freelancing.

Of course, you can always outsource some or all of these functions, but you may find it prohibitively expensive when you’re starting out. It’s better if you know how to do all of them yourself.

Keeping your own books is especially important, as it gives you a clear picture of how much money you have coming and how much is going out (and where it’s going). That’s important if you want to stay in business.


4. You Need Benefits

Some people can’t get by without benefits. If you have existing health problems, you’ll almost certainly need health insurance. And even if you’re healthy, that’s no guarantee you will be in the future. Plus, if you have kids, you’ll likely want health insurance for them, too.

This is one of those issues that’s not going to matter in countries with universal health coverage, but even in those countries there are other benefits you may not want to lose.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll no longer have employer contributions to your retirement plans. You won’t get paid sick days or personal days anymore. All of these things will need to be built into your budget or schedule.


5. You Think the Pay Will Be Better

Many considering switching to freelancing think the pay will be better. After all, they’ll get to keep all the money they’ve billed out, without sharing any of it with an employer. And that’s true. But you’ll also be responsible for paying all of your own taxes (in the U.S., at least, that amounts to an extra 7.5% in payroll taxes that you have to pay that would otherwise be paid by an employer).

You also have all sorts of other business-related expenses you’ll need to pay. Things like office supplies, new equipment, software, and all those other expenses that go along with running a business will all have to be paid by you.

There’s also the difference between hours worked versus billable hours to contend with. Not everything you do will be billable work. Time you spend on administrative tasks aren’t billable.

If you screw up on a project and have to take time to fix it, that’s usually not billable either (at least not ethically). At a corporate job, you generally get paid either for the hours you actually work or on a salaried rate, regardless of how much the client is billed.


6. You Have No Self-Discipline

If you can’t discipline yourself to actually work, then you’re not going to make it as a freelancer. If you find you’re spending hours playing video games or on Facebook instead of working, you’re going to have a very hard time finding enough billable hours to pay your own bills.

When you work in a corporate environment, there’s always the threat of being let go if you goof off too much. When you work from home, you don’t have that same threat lingering. But if you don’t get client work done on time, you’ll have unhappy clients and, eventually, no clients.

If you can’t discipline yourself to work when you need to, you’ll be better off sticking with a corporate gig.


7. You Don’t Love Your Work

So many people who work the usual 9-to-5 don’t really love their jobs. They don’t wake up in the morning looking forward to going to work. But they do it in order to earn a paycheck and put food on the table. Sometimes this is because of the work environment itself, but others times it’s because they don’t really enjoy the work they’re doing.

If you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re probably not going to love it any more once you’re freelancing. Freelancing is hard work, and if you’re already struggling to find the motivation to get your job done, you’ll probably struggle even harder once there’s no boss there to motivate you.


8. You Think the Hours are Better

When you own your own business, you’ll likely end up working twelve- to sixteen-hour days five to seven days a week, at least for the first few years.

Freelancing is like any other business. Sure, once you’re established, you’ll likely be able to reduce your hours and only take on higher-paying projects. But in the interim, you’ll probably have to take on any work you can get to build up your reputation and a stable of regular clients.

It’s also likely that your workflow won’t be as efficient as it could be for your first few months, or even years, in business. You’ll spend time on unnecessary activities. You’ll end up repeating things because you don’t have good methods for keeping track of everything.

And because of this, you’ll spend more time than is necessary on a lot of things. Time and effort will eventually fix these issues, but they’ll still have to be dealt with for a little while.


9. You Have No Space in Your House/Apartment/Bedroom for an Office

You’ll need a dedicated space for working. This doesn’t have to be an entire office, but you should at least have a desk that’s only used for your work. The idea that you can do everything from your kitchen table is likely just going to cause you headaches. As will the idea that you can do all your work from the local coffee shop.

The good news is that most people can find a quiet corner in their house, apartment, or bedroom where they can set up a permanent workspace. If it’s in a room shared with other activities, an armoire-style workstation is often preferable, so you can “close up” for the day and not have to stare at your unfinished work.


10. You Don’t Know Where to Find Clients

You’ll likely need to seek out some clients when you first get started. If you have no idea where to look or how to contact potential clients, you’ll probably have a hard time finding work.

Come up with a plan before you start making the transition to freelancing. Tip: Stealing clients from your previous employer is not the best way to find clients.


11. You Have No Project Management Skills or Experience

Freelancers need to be able to manage a project from start to finish.

When working in a corporate environment, you may have only had to deal with certain aspects of a design project. But if you’re freelancing, you’ll need to be able to manage every aspect of the design and development process. This includes outsourcing specific portions of design or development, finding out what the client needs and wants, working within the client’s budget and timeframe, and managing problems that will inevitably crop up.

If you’ve never managed a design project from start to finish, you’ll likely have plenty of missteps on your first few projects. Either get some experience with project management, or read a lot of books, blogs, and anything else you can get your hands on to learn the ins and outs.


12. You Don’t Want to Deal With People

When you freelance, you’re going to have to deal with clients. And while you often have more control over how those interactions go, you’ll still have plenty of face-time with other people. Don’t freelance in order to escape dealing with people.


13. You Can’t Stand Up for Yourself

You’ll almost certainly end up with difficult clients at some point in your freelancing career.

If you can’t be assertive and stand up for yourself, you’ll end up getting walked all over. You need to have the confidence to stand up to a client who tries to get you to work for free, or who tries to bully you into reducing your price once the work is complete.

You also need to be able to handle clients who don’t pay their bills or make unreasonable demands.


14. You Have No Time-Management Skills

Time management can be one of the most challenging aspects of freelancing. It’s also one of the most important. But most designers find it easy to spend too much time on a certain project or aspect of their business (or personal life) to the detriment of other parts of their business or life.

Time management for freelancers consists of two important things: time you spend on your work versus time you spend on your personal life, and time you spend on one project versus another project. Setting regular working hours helps with the first one, even if all those regular hours consist of is only working until 4pm (and getting up earlier to allow yourself more working hours) or only working 8 hours a day (regardless of which 8 hours).

The second one is a bit trickier. Track how much time you’re spending on each project and be aware of what you quoted to the client. Try to estimate how much time each part of the project will take, and then try to stick to that estimate.


15. You Can’t Self-Motivate

This one is closely related to self-discipline, but takes it a step forward. Discipline is all about doing the things you have to do. Motivation is finding the wherewithall to do things you want to do.

There should be things related to your freelance business that you don’t have to do, but want to do or will make your business stronger or more enjoyable.

If you only ever do the bare minimum, you’re kind of missing the point of freelancing and being your own boss. Self-motivation means you can do things above and beyond what’s required to improve your freelancing business.


16. You Don’t Want to Maintain a Professional Image

When you work for a corporate design firm, you may never have to deal with clients directly. Clients might not even really know who you are. And that’s okay, because usually they’re more interested in the company than the individual designer.

When you’re freelancing, though, it’s your name that gets tied to your work. That means you need to keep a professional image for the best business results.

If a client Googles your name and all they find are drunken photos of you from spring break, it’s going to damage your reputation. You need to be willing to keep your private life private, and to act professionally in public. Hint: use the security settings on social networking sites to limit who sees what.


17. You Want Paid Vacations

As a freelancer, you don’t get paid vacations. You’ll need to either budget accordingly throughout the year to cover your vacation expenses, or make a big push right before a vacation to get everything done. Of course, the longer your vacation, the more advanced planning you’ll need. And in many cases, you might still have to deal with client emergencies while you’re away.

If you’ve become very accustomed to having four weeks of paid vacation each year, that can be a big adjustment to make. The main thing you’ll need to do is to notify your clients well in advance that you’ll be taking a vacation if you’re going to be gone for more than a couple days.


18. You’re a Workaholic

When there’s no one telling you to stop working at the end of the day, it’s easy for some people to just keep working. This can be just as detrimental to many as not working enough, though, as it can quickly lead to burnout.

If you’re not able to limit the hours you work, you’re probably going to have a short-lived freelancing career. Your work will suffer if you’re overworking, as will your family and personal life. It’s important to set limits to the number of hours you work, and to only take on projects that fit within those time constraints.

One possible solution is to let yourself be a workaholic for three or four days a week, but then not working at all on those other days. This can help to satisfy those workaholic tendencies while still allowing you enough time to recharge.


19. You Don’t Want to Keep Regular Hours

The freedom to work when you want to is one of the biggest draws for many freelancers. The idea of not having to work 9-to-5 is a huge plus. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep regular working hours.

First of all, most of your clients probably do keep regular 9-to-5 hours. You’ll need to be available when they’re working and want to get in touch with you.

The other issue is that if you don’t have a set work schedule, you’ll probably find you have a hard time getting everything done. Figure out what time of day you work best, whether that’s from 6pm till midnight or from 3am till noon and then work those hours. But make sure you’re available during at least some regular business hours so your clients can get in touch with you when they need to.


20. You Don’t Like Being Alone

Freelancing can be a lonely business. In many cases, you’re not meeting clients in person very often. You don’t have coworkers around. And you’re probably working out of your house. If you don’t like being alone for long stretches of time, you’ll likely find you’re not well-suited to freelancing.

Of course, there are solutions to this. You can work out of your house some days (from a coffee shop or coworking space). You can foster non-work relationships so you’re interacting with people when you’re not working. Or you might want to set a regular lunch-date with other friends who freelance or work from home.


The Bottom Line

Freelancing is not for everyone. And there’s nothing wrong with that. So often in creative fields we feel like if we’re working in a corporate environment that we’re somehow not as creative as those who have set out on their own. But there’s very little truth in that.

Freelancing is a career choice and something that every designer and developer has to decide on in respect to their personal situation.

For some, freelancing is a dream come true. But for others, it’s like a prison sentence. Don’t feel ashamed to stick with your corporate job if that’s where you’re comfortable and it’s fulfilling to you.

Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

For the seasoned freelancers out there, what kind of challenges have you experienced and how did you solve them? Please share your own tips below so that future freelancers can learn from your experiences…

  • http://xpressabhi.com abhishek

    Its so much negativity. I was thinking to be one of the freelancer but now I have to rethink. I have a corporate job in hand so I have to rethink.
    But it must have some positive points. Show them also. So I can decide easily.

    • Kumaresh

      Hey its up to you that whether this points will suits for you to start a freelance or not. Nice article.

    • Avi

      There are also good things about being a freelancer : It’s exciting, You do what you really love, You learn alot and if you I’ll do things right – it pays nicely. Of Course you have to learn marketing, project management and other stuff …. but these skills will allow you to make more money. One thing for sure – you have to be really good at
      what you’re doing.


    • http://www.davidbohorquez.com/ David Bohórquez

      Hi Abhishek. Look at this article as the 20 things you should work on before becoming a freelancer.

      Also, check this other article. It might help you find solutions to some of these 20 obstacles: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/08/20-quick-tips-for-aspiring-freelancers/

    • http://www.face-id.Be jeCa

      Hi Abhished,

      To be honest this is just the harsh reality… I’m actually happy to see an article like this one, it shows that being a freelancer is hard work. And that working in a corporate environment doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.



    • http://q Cameron Chapman

      Part of the reason for the post was that there are so many posts already out there that talk about all the wonderful parts of freelancing. But the truth is that it’s hard work and not for everyone. It’s a big decision to make and the pros and cons should both be weighed carefully.

    • http://www.allchorn.com/ Ross

      Just reverse everything…

      1. You’re willing to work harder and possibly earn more
      2. You are experienced
      3. You Have Business Sense
      4. You don’t Need Benefits


      • http://wasimshaikh.in wasim

        he he.. good one

      • http://www.nathandailo.com/ Nathan Dailo

        Spot on.

    • http://www.nathandailo.com/ Nathan Dailo

      That article was meant to help you decide better. By your statement, it seems clear to me that you aren’t ready.

      I’m not trying to discourage you, but that’s just the reality of it. I hope you can prove me wrong.

      However, if you do decide to freelance, you have a community to back you up if you ever have questions. All the best if you choose to freelance.

  • http://ScottSawyerConsulting.com Scott Sawyer

    Great post! I’ve been freelancing for 5 years and have really just started turning this into a real business. I have a degree in IT, but not in business, trial by fire, baby!

    Networking is a great way to meet potential customers, so be sure to build in time for that. To be successful with the networking, dedicate 5-10 hours per week until you get busy.

    Make friends that own businesses, especially in different industries. They know what you are going through, and can offer great advise. Again, networking!

    Establish partnerships that will help round out your skills. I am a LAMP developer, but not very creative (design wise), so I work with designers, copywriters and online marketing consultants to compete with firms that have these skills in house.

    Best of luck!

  • Olaseni Oluwunmi

    Yeah, that’s why it’s such a big deal to be a freelancer. At first you think it’a lot of fields you know nothing about. Eventually you learn them all.

  • http://www.natashastorm.co.za Storm

    Great Post! I think it’s so important to really consider the switch to freelancing, it’s sooo much more responsibility. I’m just starting out in my career, and for me the most stressful idea about freelancing is lack of stability. One month could be fantastic and the next might not be so full of projects. Maybe when i have more experience i’ll feel more comfortable doing it, i guess it’s ultimately where i want to end up anyway.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • http://ScottSawyerConsulting.com Scott Sawyer

      Lack of stability is a relative concept. Yes, in the beginning, you may not know where your next job is coming from. It takes a long time (or took me a long time) to learn how to build a pipeline of business. You finish a big job, and it may take 1-2 months to get paid. Your mortgage company doesn’t care. When will you land that next gig?

      However, I have a good friend who worked for a mid to large corporation doing MS SQL optimization and application support. They downsized him. No stability there.

      If I lose 1 customer to the economy or whatever, it hurts my income, but not my entire career. At this point, I think I have more stability than someone who takes a single paycheck from a single employer.

  • http://richworks.in Richie

    I was on the verge of considering to digress my engineering career to become a freelancer and honestly, i was pretty unsure about it. After reading this, i feel a lot happy and contented that I don’t need to be a freelancer :D

    I hope you are right about most of these points, Cameron :)

  • Tal


    Why to be so negative? You should do a post “How to be a good freelancer” not
    “20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Freelancer”…

    Its so pessimistic.

    Its all about experience, the more you try, the more you learn how to be better freelancer.


    • arnold

      I think your right

    • http://q Cameron Chapman

      There are already so many posts out there that talk about how to be a great freelancer, but so few that talk about whether or not freelancing is right for a particular individual. Sure, it’s a lot of negative, but all of the points above can be overcome if someone wants to. I just believe in giving people all the information, good and bad, so they can make an informed decision and have a better idea of what they’re getting into so they can have plans in place to be successful.

      • Artzy66

        Cameron, very good article. But I would also remind people about the money aspect. Another poster here mentions the problems you can encounter with getting paid. Most businessmen will take advantage of graphic artists… they will nickel-and-dime-you from the get-go… right away they’ll say: ‘I have a really small budget, no money (as he sits there in his $500.00 suit, having just driven up in a new Mercedes), but this is good experience for you and will lead to more work’. Yeah, right.

        You have to be a hard-boiled businessman, otherwise you’ll be screwed. Everybody wants something for nothing. Get a legal contract… you can find those online. Trust no one… and absolutely go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfprIxNfCjk… that video is totally true

  • http://www.kamilpitonak.sk Kamil


    Everybody is looking for encouragement when trying to start freelance career. It’s true but it’s also very disincentive. Still, each point works for the post title. If you are not in you are out.

    – Kamil

  • Dave Smith

    I agree with some of the comments above regarding the negativity of the post.

    A simple “Solution:” or “Steps to Counteract this:” scenario for each point would have increased the usefulness of the article.

    This aside, I think you’ve done a good job and raised some great points related to the possible negatives associated with freelancing in general, especially some that would not instantly spring to mind when considering freelancing as a career move.

  • http://byjoomla.com Tri Nguyen

    Thanks for the post, it is negative though
    It might be a bit hard for people want to become a freelancer.
    However, I am looking forward to 20 reasons to become a freelancer too.

  • http://www.ghfxmedia.com Web Design Maidstone

    All a bit depressing reading all of that. I love working freelance. You’re meeting your own goals and dreams, rather than someone elses. Always look on the bright side of life.

  • http://www.juusmedia.com Jason

    Although I do think there’s a great deal of negativity involved here, for a first time freelancer I think there’s a lot of valued information and certainly pause for thought before going it alone.

    Thanks for this post…some good things to think about.

  • Rob

    I honestly started not to read this post, because as other posters have said it’s so negative. I just started my own design firm and this isn’t comforting. I went to school for business but web design is my passion. More positive post please, the economy isn’t out of the hole yet.

    • http://www.hollsk.co.uk hollsk

      Amusingly enough, it’s not just negative towards freelancers. It’s basically saying that those people who don’t freelance are lazy, greedy, and incompetent. I actually find that kind of offensive.

      • Wilson

        I like this article. It’s pretty straight forward. Either you like freelancing or your don’t. Vice versa, if you like working at a 9-5 job. Basically, it boils down to sacrifices and what you are willing to give up and it you really like what you are doing. Either way, it is always hard work.

  • http://www.visualgroove.net Febby Tan

    what you’re writing there totally makes sense. some people advices to not leaving your day job before you have settled freelancing career. for those of you who’s looking for a rollercoaster life, freelancing would be worth to try.

  • Thor

    These points are so true. Also, unless you come up with a contract that specifies in detail WHEN a job is completed, the client will always find little tweaks that they’ll expect you to do for free. You’ll be done and all of a sudden the client will expect you to create another feature that they assumed was part of the deal.

    Some clients will come up with a thousand excuses for paying you late, not paying you, disputing your invoices. It’s never a good sign at a client site when you see the bosses are driving Mercedes and the rest of the staff are driving 15 year old Hondas.

    A lot of people think they’ll be able to spend all of their time designing websites, etc. This is not true. You spend a LOT of time just running the business, and you’d better be good at running a business. Read “The E Myth” if you don’t believe me.

    20% of your clients will create 80% of your business. The other 20% will create grief, be demanding and if you don’t manage this, will take up 80% of your time.

  • http://www.passion4fashion.com pashminas

    This is the most valuable post. now days every youngsters want to do freelancing work. they don’t like their current job. I saw many of the my friend whos left their job and start freelancing work but most of them are not satisfied with freelancing b’cz they don’t have much business level experience. I will suggest them to read this post. one’s again I tell you this is the great post.

  • http://www,creativeindividual.co.uk Laura

    I always like to hear things from the other side of the story. As you pointed out, there are hundreds of thousands of articles on freelancing, how to be a successful freelancer, and the advantages of freelancing over corporate jobs. But it would be irresponsible of those successful freelancers to pretend that its all smooth-sailing.

    Thanks Cameron for pointing out many of the less obvious aspects of freelancing, which hint at the type of character/person you need to be to have a chance at becoming a successful freelancer.

    I really enjoyed reading this, I thought it was very interesting and well-written. Cheers.

  • http://www.charliehawker.com Charlie Hawker

    Interesting article but I think a lot of these wouldn’t apply to people considering freelancing, or if they did, there’s some that certainly are not reasons not to give it a go.

    – Experience shouldn’t come into it. If you know how to make a simple website with a contact form and you market yourself a little you’re bound to find the odd piece of work.
    – There’s a lot of stuff you can learn from experience – time management, project management etc. If you’re a committed individual who wants to succeed there’s no limit to what you can put your mind to. If however you go at it half-heartedly then you’re bound to crash and burn.
    – If you’re at school/college/university and you’ve got £30 to your name to set up a website of your own there’s no harm in giving it a go – you’re bound to have some spare time between lessons/lectures and you’re in an excellent environment to make business contacts. There’s really nothing to lose.

    Great article though, hope that you don’t put too many folk off!

    • http://q Cameron Chapman

      I agree that not everything is going to apply to everyone considering freelancing. But it’s one of those things where people should be aware of the potential pitfalls. And obviously someone who’s still a student has a lot less to lose than someone with a mortgage and kids to feed.

      The goal of the post was to help ensure that people are making informed decisions. It’s too easy to think when you switch to freelancing you’ll just be able to take every afternoon off and will be able to pick and choose all your clients. That might be true eventually, but for most people just starting out, you need to work like crazy and often take whatever jobs come your way just to make ends meet. If someone doesn’t go into freelancing with their eyes open, they’re much more prone to failure than someone who has plans in place to handle the possible pitfalls.

  • http://vitalofficesolutions.com Christina Nelson

    Awesome points!

    I’ve been a Virtual Assistant for a few years now and reading this reminded me of the mental pros/cons list I went through before starting out. So glad I did.

    In regards to previous comments:
    There are so many articles out there about the benefits of becoming a freelancer or owning your own business. Very few show the other side of things, and definitely not this well. You really need to research all aspects of branching out on your own before taking the leap, just jumping in blindly is a recipe for certain disaster.

    Kudos Cameron for a great article.


  • http://www.psd-dude.com PsdDude

    I think one should try being a freelancer if that is really what she/he wants . It could be a success or just another life experience! Good Luck !

  • http://www.aisajib.com Aminul Islam Sajib

    I still think Freelancing will fit me. But it’s true that initially it’s extremely difficult to find out clients as no one has experience when they first step into being a freelancer.

  • http://www.gabrielefusi.com Gabriele

    Freelancing is better!

  • http://duncanmcduncan.posterous.com Duncan McDuncan

    Yeah! hahahaha!!! I can feel that! Discipline! That’s a pain for a guy that can’t get his pillow off his arm! lol!!!

    OK time to get a lil bit more serious. Ahem. Here’s a simple answer for my personal experience – All stated above are TRUE. You’ll have to know about almost every – and that really means E-V-E-R-Y SINGLE LITTLE DETAILS. You just can’t afford to miss any of them.

    It’s ok if you fail at the beginning especially when you started out young, don’t let your ego take over your passion. When it’s time to let go of it, just let go. There’s nothing to be ashame of than to be a hard-headed stubborn person who can’t face the fact! Reach out and get more experience, and let’s start that again when time comes.

    That is how i deal with it.


  • http://www.jordanwalker.net Jordan Walker

    I love to freelance.

  • Erkan


    Thank you for this nice article … now I’ve 20 reasons why I should be a freelancer !!!


  • http://twitter.com/hexacreative Hexacreative

    Point 21,
    “Check your Software License”

  • http://www.4w.co.uk Dan Broughton

    I would add to 3 – you dont have anyone to chase those bad debts for you!

  • http://koportfolio.net kerry

    Good Article, I don’t think it is too negative sometimes its worth considering the negatives before rushing in but if this is enough to put you off then perhaps freelancing was never meant to be for you, besides I agree with the Author there are allot of rose tinted views of the freelance web design industry.

    True there are times I dream of giving up my corporate and going it alone, there are times I’m glad to go home and just forget about the clients for a few hours too but ultimately I do home to go into business myself.

    The thing about web design is anyone can set up a site and declare themselves a freelancer but It takes the same commitment with any business to make it work and many of these points apply for anyone who chooses to go self employed one or two points I could live with.

  • http://www.twitter.com/codephase Codephase

    this post really got me thinking about not freelancing. great post! thanks WDD!

  • Philipp

    You forgot one big important point, Have a financial backup, you shouldn’t start freelancing when you have big debts or even if you have any debts. As you start to freelance you might not have clients right away and you have no income in the first couple of weeks it is then good if you have anything to relay on. If you wanna risk it get a credit but only if your are sure that you can do it. Also income will probaly not be regualr in the beginning.

    • http://q Cameron Chapman

      That’s a very good point. I would highly recommend anyone thinking about freelancing have a minimum of six months worth of living expenses before they start or have a spouse or significant other who’s bringing in enough income to cover basic expenses.

      Reducing your expenses before you start freelancing is a big plus, as it means you’ll have to bring in less money to start with.

      Be very, very careful about using credit. It’s one thing if you need it because of a cash flow issue and you can pay it off within a month or two, but if you rack up too much credit card or other debt, it’s going to be that much harder to ever get ahead with your freelancing career.

  • http://www.khwebdesign.net Kent

    A bit pessimistic but incredibly true. Another point to consider is that when freelancing your workload can be incredibly inconsistent, a few weeks with 80 hours and then a month of nothing, while at a regular job you’re much more likely to work a standard work week every week of the year.

    The bottom line, at least in my opinion, is that working a regular job means you’ll most likely just focus on your work itself while freelancing forces you to also put considerable effort into business work such as advertising/networking, contract negotiations, balancing budgets, more complicated taxes, project management, etc. If tackling those additional duties sounds like a bit much, it’s probably best to work for a company that has someone else to deal with those issues.

  • david

    I think the business sense and self-discipline/motivation are the most important ones, all the rest can be dealt with as you go along. But if you don’t have a head for running a business or find it hard to discipline or motivate yourself to really work hard, you indeed wont make it.

    I should know, that’s why i’m not a freelancer anymore :)

    By the way, i wouldn’t call the article pessimistic, it’s just realistic. If you’re thinking of being a freelancer and can recognise yourself in a few of the points listed, be very careful with what you chose to do. Going freelancer is a very big change and articles like this might help people understand that.

  • http://www.animhut.com/ sriganesh

    thanks cameron , for such post! guys see the beginning lines, we have lots of post for ” how to be a good freelancer ” , as you know in everything there is pros and cons, we should consider the cons also.
    they are not trying or discouraging you to not to be freelancer.
    i personally thankful to you cameron, i was think to go for freelancing. now i rethink and may be i get some experience and and do the freelancing .

  • http://www.simonklink.nl Simon

    Those are a lot of reasons for taking corporate job, but still, freelancing also has a lot of advantages.

  • http://mcdg.tumblr.com Maximo Carteir

    “…if that’s where you’re comfortable and it’s fulfilling to you.”

    I think that message is kind of mediocre, I dont mean to start freelancineg right away with no experience… but staying in a dependence relation of work for ever will hardly launch you to success. Though, not everyone has what it takes to do so… but in my opicnion thats where you should aim.

    Even these 20 reasons are true facts, you must face them and overcome them, freelancer were not born as so, its a process where you must learn and endure in order to achieve

  • Arqtojamz

    that’s no true 100%, lol this is a good way to be business but i’ve 6 years of freelancers and all it’s ok!

  • http://www.goblinridge.co.uk Yorkshire Web Design

    Long hours, irregular hours, workaholic, tell me about it! When starting out freelancing all I seemed to do was work, sleep for 6 hours at some point and then another hour fitted in somewhere for everything else! Thankfully it does get better. Ted

  • http://www.glennsorrentino.com Glenn Sorrentino

    All legitimate concerns. It’s a ton of work… which is why I like full-time employment and the ability to freelance if needed.

  • http://www.gregbabula.com Greg Babula

    Great post, I had a feeling one of these was in the works after reading all the other “why you should freelance” articles

  • http://christopher-lee.tumblr.com/ Chris

    Instead of reasons why not to be a freelancer it would be a better title as things to consider when wanting to be a freelancer. Each individual has a comfort level and path to follow. Most of us know if we have what it takes to set out on our own and I can promise every corporate employee (including myself) has the exact same doubts as have pointed out. Being a corporate employee and watching out the window at the successful freelancers they all have one thing in common: confidence. If you have confidence in yourself and your skills you will not fail at anything, whether it be your corporate job or your freelance career.

  • http://www.kaplang.com Kaplang

    this post is great. I remember starting out as a freelancer and at that time I lived in a really small house so I can relate to the lack of space issue which you have mentioned.

    Since back then I have gone on from being a freelancer to running my own company, so you really never know how far you will take your self employment.

    Another thing to remember as well….once you have left your job and you are going it alone as a freelancer, it is very hard to do any sort of U turn and go back in to employment.

  • http://korbyimagery.com Shanna

    This is a refreshing change from the articles that make it sound like anyone can do it.

  • http://lenatailor.designerteam.info Lena Tailor | DT

    I would consider myself to be both. (an employee and a freelancer)I have a good general working knowledge on many other areas as well. I don’t think you have to be one or the other really. In today’s market, being diversified is really key.

  • http://www.venturetothetop.com Dee

    I so agree that people need to be aware of both the pro’s and con’s of being a freelancer, as many people simply look at the positives and forget to consider the negative side. I also write a lot about freelancing on my blog, and I find also that freelancer often neglect just how much of a mental change is needed.

    However potential freelancer need not dispair. Many people, like myself have become successful freelancer. It can be done, you just need to make sure you are prepared for the challenges and set yourself a good mentor. Articles like this (and likewise on my blog) do a lot of good for people who are going to try freelancing blindly.

    Even if this guide wakes up just one person, then its a very valuable article. Those of you who feel discouraged and feel like the challenge may be daunting. It is, sometimes, so maybe you were not born for it… unelss you want to prove me wrong..

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com adam

    Good post, definitely a interesting topic to talk about. I’m not sure if I agree with all the 20 reasons on why you shouldn’t be a freelancer but nonetheless some of them are valid.

  • http://waldropdesign.com Andy Waldrop

    Man, this article was written by one Negative Nancy. It’s much needed tough love. Freelancing is tough especially without appropriate financing at the beginning of your career. That should also be on the list. “Star-up capital”.

    The best advice I can give is don’t try to do it all yourself. Know what you are good at and team up with people who can make you better.

  • helmet

    good post, it’s difficult to make it professionally as a freelancer, and having a nice business card and all your files and boxes stacked up against the fridge does not equate to ‘running your own design agency’ neither does doing your uncles engineering firm website and pressing him to get some brochures done.

    The design industry is full of fly by nights who start up as freelancers and then drop it all for a full time job as soon as they gt one leaving clients in the lurch without any proper exit stategy


  • http://trickpedia.com Sid

    hehe .. freelancing aint easy .. :D

    Actually any job aint easy. A man really needs to work had for the 1st 5-10 years of his career and after that things start to settle.

    An eye opener post to a lot of new (including me) freelancers.

    So folks get a degree and a real job ,this WWW thing aint gonna take u anywhere soon.

  • http://Designyre.com Jared

    I have just a few things I’d like to add/modify to the list.

    1. You have to have passion about what you do regardless of what it is. If you’re not interested enough in your job to give it your all, then you aren’t going to make it as a freelancer when no one cares whether or not you work that day.

    2. It has been said that freelancing is not for everyone. I will agree with that but say that it’s not in God’s plan for everyone. As a Christian I prayed that it was His will for me to go freelance and that he would provide for me. I have been blessed more than I could have imagined by the time I’ve been able to spend with my wife and son. The money has not always been there but we’ve always had enough.

    I would say that going freelance was definitely the best decision I could have ever made and I hope that it never changes to where I have to go back to work full-time. I wish the best to all who are considering this now and in the future. From my experience, keep God first and seek his will and you will be blessed beyond your means. later

  • Jerry

    7.5 percent my butt! Try more like 29% of your income will go directly to uncle sam so the not so motivated in our society can get their welfare checks and live free in section 8, and you gotta pay for social security you will never see, and medicaid that will be bankrupt in no time. I made 84k and had to pay 27K in taxes. SMACK! Theres a wake up call in itself. 1/3 of every project needs to go into the bank to make sure you are covered in tax season. Also with the New obama socialist healthcare system you will get an extra 2k ding on your taxes when it starts. Ths is to help pay for your insurance unless you pay the unreasonable ammount the insurance actually costs. This charge goes

    makes you realize why people in business hate taxes so much. So you have to think if you make 84K you are actually only making 55K not to mention your other outstanding bills like software and such that you can write off once, and if you choose to lie abotu that you can get caught and dinged for that as well.

    Also do not forget your taxes need to be in order or you will get dinged by the lovely IRS. Why? Because clients report you as a business write off. So theres no way you get out of it, you may once or twice but when you get caught they will find everything and you will be super screwed. When the government sees you were paid they will be able to pretty easily spot your discrepencies. The last thing you want is your clients thinking your a criminal when they get contacted wanting to know if you were in fact paid by this company. The wonders of Audit, become real when you are a business entity.

    Also you have to be super good at keeping reciepts and keeping them in order, the better the order the better your chances of avoiding unreal tax prep charges like mine that cost 1800.00 to file. Granted mine also included a K1, but its not the standard run to H&R block for 50-100 bucks kind of thing as an employee.

    Freelancing is definately a lot more involved than people think it is, and dicipline will either make or break you.

    • http://www.kliky.com Ed

      Jerry, you need to spend less time railing against Obama and his “socialist healthcare system” and more time organizing your finances. If you’re really working on your own and paying out 29% of your income on taxes, and you’re paying someone $1800 to do that for you, then you’ve really got problems. No wonder you’re pissed off. And your statement, “be super good at keeping reciepts” are you kidding me? Is this 1970? Do you keep your receipts in a shoebox? Get a damn business credit and/or debit card and put all your business expenses on that, print out your year end spending report (that can be categorized) and viola! Then leave your shoebox full of receipts home, and email your spending report, plus income statement to your NEW tax accountant.

  • http://www.mattwright.net Matt

    Definitely on the negative side but mostly true all the same.

    I’ve been freelancing for years and would never dream of going to back to permanent work.

    On the plus you can…

    – Be your own boss
    – Make your own decisions
    – Run your own projects
    – Choose who you work with
    – Make use of a good accountant and start your own tax efficient Ltd company (in the UK you’ll pay around half fulltimers tax rate).
    – work and hard and the rewards are all yours!


  • http://www.joebarstow.com Joe Barstow

    Hey I Loved this article, the titles i thought worked really well in conjunction with the text. Not negative, just blunt. I only wish more articles were straight forward like this :)


  • http://www.starnut.com Michel

    Hi, thx for the writeup although I have to agree on the negativity. There sure are more positive ways to bring these messages across. Still, it wraps up the pains and hazards about freelancing quite nicely.

    And also agreed on the networking: in my opinion, networking is the most crucial thing when freelancing and it has a vast impact on your freelance career in terms of how you find new clients and good (!) contracts.
    Go to conferences (maybe even apply as a speaker), join user groups (present your stuff here), get involved and invest some time for cool things that contribute to some greater good. It will all come back to you in time and open so many new doors.

    Also: Sometimes, when you’re short of jobs, it can make more sense to create something for yourself that you’re really fond of and promote yourself through it instead of taking some crappy contract that kills your spirits.

    Be precise about what you do. Don’t try to do everything. People must connect you with just one or two things you’re really good at so you pop into their heads when they need someone.

    that’s just what popped into my head right away.



    • http://q Cameron Chapman

      I definitely agree about sometimes working on your own projects if you have some slow time and don’t need the money. They can result in more work down the road. Things like creating stock themes to give away or sell can be a great way to get new business and possibly make a bit (or a lot) of money in the meantime.

  • http://www.squiders.com Web Design Maidstone

    Nice article, it brought back a lot of memories of starting out on my own, took my nearly a year to get the hang of time management and not over promising and under pricing in a desperate hunt for work.

    If you are in a company and want to set out on your own keep you eyes wide and ears open… and learn everything… listen to the accounts people chasing payments, listen to the sales people making calls or even the office manager ordering stationary… you’ll soon be doing it all yourself.

    That said after a lot of hard work it is the best job in the world !!

  • http://sideradesign.com you win the web designs

    If yo ureally want to start freelancing, and you’re motivated, losts fo these skills can be learned.

  • jerry

    I think the negativity is something that needs to be pointed out. People think that its so glorious and awesome to be a freelancer but in reality you are turning yourself into a business. That means lots of new things designers usually aren’t prepared for. Yeah there’s benefits all over the place but if your not working and your not raking in any clients your not gonna see any of those benefits.

    Today’s society loves pointing out the good things forgetting the stuff that goes on behind those scenes to make that happen. Sales, marketing, PR… now the buck stops with you on everything. If anything i think people should try it if they think they still can after reading the behind the scenes parts. These kinds of articles prepare people for the reality of it rather than the ideal of it. Ideally you will have super fun and creative jobs flying at you from every direction….in reality you are probably not good enough to score MTV, Scion and Monster Energy, nor do you even know how to score these kinds of jobs. You may only be good enough for “Rexs Tranny Fix’n shop” with a whopping budget of $500. You have to be real here too, it’s not like the ridiculous ideals of society where there are no losers and every kids gets a ribbon. For every job you get it’s one someone else isn’t getting. The same goes for you, if you aren’t getting it then someone else is. That’s where the decision and balls to try it comes in. If you can do it it’s freaking awesome if you can’t you better hope you can get that corporate job back.

  • http://dsaunadesign.com Daniel

    I think those points are very valid. There are many posts on how to be a freelancer, and the advantages, that people just jump into it without knowing what they’re getting into.

    I think freelancing is amazing, but is not for everyone, and you also have to look at the dark side and balance your options and decide.

  • http://gitara.name/ jackson

    “Freelancing is not for everyone.” – your right with this, but can’t agree with some reasons. As example number 5. “You Think the Pay Will Be Better.” In my country (Belarus), people with good specialities (medics, teachers, engineers, programmers e.t.c) earn less than 400-500$ at month!!! It is sad. Thats why some young specialists want to become a freelancers.

  • Dalar

    I agree with a lot of this on freelancing. But being one of those people who’s soul is crushed by 9-5 jobs, I’m glad I chose to start out freelancing. Best way to do it, IMO, is to have a part-time casual job on the side, so you have some basic income to back you up.
    Also, being in Canada probably helps too. No health insurance needed.

  • http://www.bebop-ad.com BebopDesigner

    Brilliant post! Life’s hard mate!

  • http://www.onextrapixel.com Aidan

    How about be a part-time freelancer and a full time corporate employee? Having the best of both world?

  • http://www.evelt.com/ joel k.

    NO WAY
    freelancing can be easy, fun, payed for, and is in most cases better then being a corporate employee,

    by the end of the day, the good freelancers tern their hobby and knowledge into a full fledged company with lots of workers.

    Why so negative?

  • http://www.valeriamazo.com valeria

    All the things that you say are true, but if you really like to work by your own terms you will learn to do it. I’m a freelance since 2005 and its true that when I started it was hard. But now I work at home and I really love it. My dogs plays with me, I choose wich proyects I really want to do and I have a part time work with a corporate that I do from my home that keeps me calm about the money. So everything is fine now, its the perfect balance for me.

  • http://www.highintegritydesign.com NorthK

    I really appreciated reading this article Cameron– thanks. I’ve been a freelancer for 2+ years and I am recognizing that it isn’t for me, for many of the reasons you’ve stated.

    I don’t think the article is negative; I do think it is realistic. I think the main things I’ve learned are:
    1) Find out what you love doing that is also compatible with your lifestyle. What are your most important values, and what kind of work supports those values? What work grooves with your talents and personality? For me this required experiencing what it was like to be a freelancer, not just thinking about my values.
    2) Accept yourself. If you learn that you are not well-suited to being a freelancer, bless the experience and then let it go and don’t judge it. This is the stage I’m working on.

    If could change one thing about the experience, I would try to get a position working for an agency first, to learn from more experienced people before going it on my own.

    I’m also wondering if there is something in between corporate work and freelance work, such as working as an on-going consultant for an agency or contracting shop.


  • http://www.logobliss.com Logo Bliss

    great post, with some interesting points regarding freelancing.

    I would like to here some positives also, that’s for another post though … ;-)

  • http://www.classesandcareers.com/ Teacher Teacher

    I would add one more item to this: “Don’t feel ashamed to stick with your corporate job if that’s where you’re comfortable and it’s fulfilling to you.”

    I would also say if it supports the lifestyle you want to live. More trouble comes from the lack of money than any other aspect. Expect to be “in the red” financially for 1-5 years. If you can still live while not making any money for the first few years of your business, you are far more likely to succeed.

    I have one other item to add to your helpful list:
    #21: You don’t want to have a boss
    Many folks feel this way, but in all honesty, when you are self-employed, you trade a boss who tells you what to do but provides you with a paycheck for clients who tell you what to do and give you a paycheck. So just remember, you are just trading bosses….

  • http://www.bighdesign.com Justin Moore-Brown

    HAHAHAH I haven’t even made it past #1 and this is one of the best articles EVER!

    “which 16 hours of the day you want to work” HAAHA f’ing so true.

    Great article guys!

  • http://www.alejandroperazzo.com Punta del Este Real Estate

    i started by been a freelancer, and now i work in a company, not a design company, a real estate company, im the designer/programer/etc of the real estate.

    but now days i still do some freelancer work

  • greg

    About this post – I have to disagree on quite a lot. First off, I nearly died in the 90s and spent 7 years bedridden for the most part and finally, when getting over it, having to build up physical strength in order just to walk from the seat to the front door and of course, when I could do that, then more than that. As a result and with no income, I NEEDED a job but I have this bad health record and a great hole of 7 years in my work history. Worse than that, here I am now (then) 45. Who in the WORLD is going to hire me and then again, seeing I am still not 100% at that time (still not, 10 years later) who would be understanding that I need a job but sometimes need to rest?

    So, I had NO CHOICE but to start my own freelance job. At the time I had no idea how to do a web site so it wasnt my obvious area of income. I did know how to pull a computer apart and diagnose its problems, build one, build a network, basically anything you needed to do with a Microsoft based computer or network, I could do it and I had the studying done and titles to prove it. I may have been sick all those years but it didnt mean I couldnt try even though every docto said I was going to die. There I was, sick, needing hours no employer wanted to give and needing an income. Freelancing was my ONLY option. Today, I make “a living” but not a fabulous income. Why? I simply take on that which I can physically afford to do and no more. If I need Wednesday off, then I plan for that and do it. You CAN be a freelancer and sick! You have to PLAN it, though.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kyee kyee

    I freelanced full time for two years at first, before I took on a year long contract gig with good pay. During the time I spent freelancing I found myself far more stressed and less likely to enjoy projects during slower times. The full time contract isnt as interesting as always finding your own projects but when you compare that with its pros you quickly realize a guaranteed income when you work from home will always outweigh freelance. Plus, you can always take on the odd high pay freelance project every now and then (or when they come along) and life the best of both worlds..

  • http://inspirationfeed.com inspirationfeed

    there is always pros and cons to freelancing, but i understand your points as well.

  • http://www.alsupipe.com Oyun

    Thank you!! great post I love it.

  • nexuxirc

    good post! so it .. are very good reasons! :)

  • http://www.hastishah.com Hastimal Shah

    Thanks for Great Post I have to keep this point in my notes..,
    Am Always keeping negative points in my mind. Because negative points makes you to find solution in positive ways. If you know the negativity of work then you are aware of it.
    Am doing job as well as work as freelancer part time.

  • http://blog.ajeva.com/ Issa

    This is a nice reality-checker list. Many people have too much misconceptions about freelancing that they think it is the ultimate dream career one can have. Well, who wouldn’t fancy the freedom of working anytime, anywhere? Still, being a freelancer is a huge responsibility that only the toughest can survive. If you’re into the spirit of team building, you might as well feel that ‘loneliness’ in a couple of weeks working all on your own, and perhaps, you might as well go back to that cubicle where you worked. I think one shouldn’t be in freelancing if one thinks this is an easy way out of his/her misery. It’s never going to work. Thanks for the sharing!

  • ken

    thats true and i think one person doesn’t always handle everything but be a freelancer and in the future be an employer,that’s when you will know whether you are growing or not.

  • http://www.davidsaundersdesign.com David

    I think this article is the last dying cry of most web design agencies out there. The future of web design is the freelancer, who is rewarded based solely on the quality of his work. There absolutely no reason why a talented Web Designers should be wasting their time working as a number for a set wage in some design agency. All those design agencies should have seen it coming as they picked and chose whose work they thought was worth employing and whose wasn’t. When you think about the freelance web community is one big company in itself anyway, helping each other and sharing work is just in our nature, that’s why we rock!

  • Joel

    I think that there is a lot of negativity around in the web design community and it’s very disappointing.

    It would be easy to title this “20 things to think about before becoming a freelancer”

  • http://www.nolanc.com Patrick

    Great post, everyone spends time on the how to be great freelancer and shys away from some of the awful truths. A straight fact post which will be very useful.

  • tripdragon

    Reasons to be a freelancer. Work. Reasons to not be a freelancer. Work.

    Was that so hard?

  • Sarah

    I think this is a fantastic post!

    Everyone is complaining about it being negative, but in truth it’s just being real. Too many people have false ideas about “working from home” due to all those “earn thousands of dollars in just a few minutes a day while wearing your pajamas” scams. So then people assume those of us that do freelance have it so easy, and actually it’s harder than having a corporate job. About time that was pointed out!

  • http://aloofkid.com Aloofkid


    Nice post, I’ve been a freelancer for a year now and I’ve been earning a great deal out of it. I bought my own car and I provide my brother his tuition fees and allowances and share some money to my parents for their expenses.

    I start up a billboard printing business out of my freelancing job, and take note it’s been only a year since I’ve been doing freelanceing. Most important, I am still in college and I am not taking any computer related courses, in fact I am a nursing student.

    Freelancing has been great to me. When becoming a freelancer, it doesn’t stop at being at very good website designer. In freelancing you must be good in stablishing raport and gaining your customer’s trust even you havent started a contract. Your client must see that you are a professional and you must knows how to deal with people.

    You also must know how to get clients and where to get them, infact I am spending 1-2 hours a day looking for clients. Right now I am doing 3 web projects worth at least $300 and I still have 5 others pending. I’ve been telling these people that I am not available for a job but they are willing to wait at least 2 months. It’s not because I am a very good designer it’s because I have their trust and loyalty.

    Tip for you guys: Don’t just spend your earnings to some stuff, how I manage to buy my own car with just the span of one year of freelancing? Invest your earnings in the things you know you can earn more.

    Just my to cent

    • matt

      you bought a car with $300 USD. projects….Do you live in India….

  • http://Www.poweredbyvision.co.uk nev

    Great article fair and not negative. It misses training budget but most people realise they have to self learn. Id just add life balance at the end of the day you need life balance and freelancing is just a different employment contract and job spec. Read notes above and whatever you choose work hard sensibly you will do well. Take stock every year and be prepared to change if circumstances change. 15 years and still enjoying the mix. ;)

  • http://www.appogge.net Lee

    You shouldn’t be a freelancer because you want paid vacations? To avoid the obvious, the list could have almost been cut in half…

    • http://pbwebdev.com.au/blog/ Peter

      Some of the obvious stuff the young and naive don’t even think about when they first start. I didn’t think about paid vacations or managing my own cash flow for a long time. I had to be taught how to save and manage my money.

      For some people it comes naturally but for the young gen Ys, we spend spend spend.

  • http://www.justforthealofit.com/ TheAL

    Definitely a great read. As someone who worked for companies and who has loved doing most all things computer/web-related since he was a young teenager, it always felt like freelancing was right for me. I’m definitely giving it a shot now, but who knows what the distant future will hold and what experiences will drive me to do? I love it, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t turn down a good corporate job with health benefits and vacation pay.

  • http://illusiodesign.com Chuck Spidell

    The answer to life, the universe, and everything? Become a freelancer. You’ll thank me later.

  • http://www.drossos-carpets.gr antonis vourtsis

    why not been freelancer and contract time by the same time can we??? im doing this having freetime to work on my own projects as well so lets keep both

    antonis vourtsis
    seo oprimizer and marketing planner from Greece

  • http://themetoday.com Beau

    nice twist on things, if you feel the negative vibes in the article then maybe freelancing isn’t for you

  • youcanshine


    Nice ideas but they are not realistic. I have proven that being a freelancer is far far better than being in a corporate setting. I have earned 5x the pay when I was in the corporate setup.

    I am for everyone who wants to try it out for themselves. I encourage you all to try freelancing because it’s the only way you can get advanced trainings, high pay and a flexible time. Your clients will train you on their systems so you can be of use to them. Unlike in the corporate, you only wait if they give you training when the bosses have cooled their heads. They pay you 15% of their earnings from your work, and make you go through a hard time getting along with their politics. ugh…

    This article strikes a positive reaction because it makes you think on great reasons why freelancing is a very profitable path to take.


  • AndyB

    As some of the replies have stated above, the post is negative so should be taken with a pinch of salt in my opinion. However it is refreshing to get the other side of the coin – I freelance and although I am enjoying it now and am finding success after 18 months, it’s been a VERY touch 18 months indeed with very long days.

    I work at a large corporate and have been building my own business up on the side – it’s been a very effective way of doing things, but tiring too! I’m now at a stage where I have a constant stream of clients though and have started outsourcing the coding part of the work, allowing me to focus on the client interaction, marketing and concept designing – the things I love.

    I don’t think anyone wanting to freelance should be discouraged by this post, but do take the points seriously as they portray the reality well.


  • http://www.suikasite.com Laura

    Well I think we always have something good and something bad about decisions we make, nothing is totally perfect. The point for me is that nobody knows better than ourselves what we need to have a better life. For some people, freelance work will be a blessing and for some a nightmare, but maybe for others will be a mix of both and life in lot of ways is a challenge full of good times and bad times, is everybody decision how to manage that. Will be nice that someone can tell us how things will be for each of us but the reality is that we will have to find this answers.

  • foofy

    Where I can read ’20 Reasons You Shouldn’t waste time with corporate job’?
    thank you.

  • http://helen-ramblingthoughts.blogspot.com Helen

    Very good article recommended by my friend through linkedin! I also am one of those who tries to make the best of two worlds, not easy, I must say! I agree with all the observations and as a worker in Brazil, there is another aspect that has worried me a lot – what about pension rights? when you are a free lancer, you should make payments towards the ‘official’ pension scheme – not always easy and often miscalculated… I now look forward to retirement with less than a full pension because of having opted for freelance work to give me the extra time with my kids – you never win!

  • Andrew

    I disagree and agree with alot of the points in the article. I do believe it is possible to make alot MORE money with LESS effort freelancing. (At least it has worked for me) I think many web designers and developers tend to under charge for there services, the projects I do are priced high enough to give me a great life. On average each project I do takes about a month, and they usually come to around 6,000 dollars. I bill based on the hour (but don’t show the client that info, I just multiply my hourly rate times the estimated time) and I also of course add some padding to the price just in case if anything happens. I also tend to do work and pitch projects to established companies that actually have money (no mom and pop shops). I notice that alot of freelancers seem to settle for smaller projects which really are not that profitable and in many cases usually struggle to get paid. Some web designers might find it unethical, I look at it from a business standpoint of how to make more money.

  • Clea Walford

    good article – I love to freelance, but it really is hard work

  • http://www.drinkwhat.com steve

    Great article! Most of the points mentioned above are required for anything that you do if you want to be successful. It all depends on what you have decided to do and know yourself.

  • http://www.avid-designer.com Will D. White

    Last year I transitioned from Freelancing to a full time position at a branding agency.

    I found that while I was freelancing I was learning a huge deal about business, marketing, and networking. The flip side is I actually had a harder time improving my design abilities because I didn’t have someone there to bounce ideas off of – and to have occasionally flip through something I’m working on and suggest improvements etc.

    Since I’ve been full time, I’ve found I’ve *greatly* improved my design and programming capabilities – mainly because I don’t have to focus on client meetings, managing invoices, running to and from chamber of commerce meetings trying to network etc. I get to come in each morning and work on what I love – design & development – without the distractions of a million phone calls a day and hours spent replying to client emails.

    Each way of working has its benefits. I may end up freelancing later on, but for now – I’m definitely the “corporate” type.

  • http://www.nashvilleinteractive.com nashville freelance web designer

    I got through almost the entire list without batting an eye until I hit #18. My name is shag and I’m a workaholic. That’s a very good point. I’ve been working on my own for a year or so now and I found that during winter it was easy to hunker down and get things done for days on end but when it warms up, I’d rather be playing golf. Perhaps reason #21 should be “Your not a good golfer”.

    • Artzy66

      Between 1981 and 2000 I freelanced as an illustrator/designer… and played tons and tons of tennis as well. I had some hard times financially, and you could argue that I would have done better if I didn’t play tennis at all. But I did keep improving my artistic skills all along. No, I wouldn’t trade that tennis experience for anything. It remains a passion today, along with my graphic art.

      A person should try things in life… even if you fail, at least you won’t be left wondering “what if…?”.

      Just do it!

  • http://www.lifelikepixel.com NEIL

    Its better to digest the pros and cons of being a freelancer before taking the big leap. You don’t know if your doing good on your projects and become successful or might just fall deep on mortgages and bills to pay especially if you have family to feed. Stability is important before considering freelancing. I have a corporate job and sometimes I feel freelancing is better to be your own boss and be able to spend time with your kids, but after reading this article, I think otherwise. However, experience is the best teacher. Cheers

  • http://notyet skjult

    ah nice article.. really motivated me to start my own business this summer. I will read this again when i started to remind me on what i should focus :)

  • http://tomdringer.com Tom Dringer

    Very interesting. Thanks.

  • http://www.paternitidesign.com Davide

    to be or not to be…freelancer! i’ll never decide.

  • http://www.dic-syen.com Hooi Dic-Syen

    This is the perfect article for both freelancers and those in the 9-5 corporate job. I would say the best decision for all designers and developers will be to get a 9-5 job and handle some small projects at night. Allocate 3-4 nights a week to handle your freelance jobs. Do not accept huge projects. From there you will be able to identify the one that suits you. You can also apply what you’ve learned in your office in your freelance projects such as talking to them(PR). This is what I’ve been doing for the past 1month as a fresh graduated design student. At the moment, I’m happy with both.

  • http://jorgepedret.com Jorge Pedret

    LOL, the picture in the 9th item of the list looks so much like my desk! :-D that’s really funny.

  • http://accessibleweb.eu/ Richard – accessible web testing

    Although a number of commenters have said this article is too negative, I don’t think it is. I think it is just being realistic, and while you don’t have to be perfect in all areas to get started in freelancing, and you may not need to work 16 hour days to start off, the article acts as a good checklist.
    It’s a bit like buying a house, there are all sorts of things to consider other than the obvious “how do I pay for it”, like is the insulation enough to keep fuel bills low, or will the windows need replacing in the next five years.

  • BagshiK

    Great article, thanks mate ! It will be very useful in the future !

  • sxeBabe

    I dont know about this… It almost seems as though every point made is describing someone with no ambitions or passion for what they do. I run a small just-starting design business, with success (not a lot mind you but a little is better than nothing at all) and if you are truly dedicated to your passion (if it is your passion) then you will have no problem in problems solving a freelance line of work.

    True it is not for everyone, but lets just say I am not even 25 yet and I am doing just fine with financial Assets, and other business related codes of conduct, if you will.

    Makes you wonder if people are just in it for the money. Sad.

  • damian

    Shit article.

    Far too much negativity and slanted very much to the idea that you don’t know jack about what your doing, just out of school and that your probably lazy. Oh and greedy.

    I will never get back that 5 minutes.

  • APrather

    I agree with Cameron in a way i think he only meant for anyone who think freelancer job is a easy way out, or a easy way to make money.

    But I think freelancer job is a good start for anyone who has been struggling to find entry level job, corporate job or any job related to what they are doing. Because, if they are serious running freelance position, by then in 5 or 10 year (if economy gets better) Job will be opening to anyone, freelancers would be the first one to get hired perhaps they could get into higher level position because experience/reference they earned.

    I started freelancer job three years ago, now I have full time job as lead artist in web design for company. I got hired because all of affiliates I created around network. So for those who are SERIOUS about freelancer job… BE SERIOUS about it.

  • Jared

    Being a freelancer takes away your soul. That’s why this post is negative.

    I am paid better than most, when the work is good. Sometimes I am not paid at all. Right now, a client owed me a lot of money and I haven’t seen a regular income in 6 weeks.

    You often have to take on the role of a design team in order to keep clients happy. I’ve spent my entire weekend trying to get my sleeping pattern back into check after a 19 hour design-a-thon on Thursday/Friday.

    Your home is your office so you end up hating your home. When my girlfriend comes home from work, she wants to curl up on the couch and watch movies with me. I want to do anything but this. Needless to say I go to the pub a lot and often can’t resist dropping a work day to hang out with a friend who also has a day off work, even when I shouldn’t. Subsequently, I’m about to go outside for the first time in 4 days.

    But the reason I do it is the sense of freedom you get every now and then. Often the appeal of full-time job security is tempting, but whenever I think of it, freelancing seems to bring me some huge reward that reminds me why I do it again. Plus working in PJs and having a beer with lunch is nothing to complain about.

  • mohamed

    simply, create your own company

  • http://webrouter.com.ar JuanM

    nice article, it has a lot of tips to help freelancers to work better. I felt identified with point 9.. now I have mi desk clean and neat

  • http://www.ozdtasarim.com fireRoxy

    i know more reasons than 20 why i should be a freelancer:)

  • Niubi

    Oooh, negative! Having said that, these are all points that anyone considering becoming a freelancer needs to think about before taking the jump – it really isn’t all lounging around as the common image goes! The internet offers a lot – just check out DubLi Network as one source of employ – but you still have to have the discipline to succeed.

  • http://www.itspriya,com Priju

    Ha ha… Nice… but i enjoy doing it….

  • sherif

    courages subject , I’m actually a freelancer
    and i agree with U on lots of point
    but as long as i don’t find job offers,
    i would be working to avoid this point you mentioned :D

  • BN

    Been there, done that! And, you hit the point.

  • http://www.psyched.be/wordpress Darkened Soul

    Even though it’s hard to be a freelancer at times, it is something I’ld like to do in the end, maybe, next to a part-time job. Part time freelancer…

    After all, it’s not the amount of money you earn, not the amount of time u spend or what have you. It’s about how you can feel good while doing what you like without having someone supervising you, you can work from home or anywhere you want to work from. And you are able to do it your way… if you want (and aren’t having a client meeting) u could get up by midday n work into the late hours or vice versa. And of course, anything you work extra will make you more money in the end…

    it all has plusses n cons, it is indeed what you want it to be…

  • http://www.copywritingdean.com Copywriting Dean

    “18. You’re a Workaholic”
    “When there’s no one telling you to stop working at the end of the day, it’s easy for some people to just keep working. This can be just as detrimental to many as not working enough, though, as it can quickly lead to burnout.”

    Tell me about it. It’s HARD to unplug, especially when you have email attached to your blackberry. Seems I always feel pressure to be working on something.

  • http://Brandi-AnnUyemura.com Brandi

    What a great post! Thanks! I actually think you could get away with all of the above except #7. Everything else you can learn in the process or change your habits.

  • johan

    Some of the points made were so true that I did not want to read them. Great article & great shot of truth. Keep on telling it like it is.

  • Ahmad kerjieh

    I have beend a freelancer 7 years From,now
    everything single word said in this article is true.I have suffered with each single point of whats written.

    BUT IF YOUR BORN A Leader the sense Of leadership is in you,you will discover that the door
    Of sucess is to Start like this But not to finish like this..
    Imagine what a one head with two hands can do , Now multiply by 2 & then by 3
    GUys if your seeekinng wayyy bigger than u want TEAM WORKKK…
    Born a freelance learn to finish everything from A to Z Then Collect your team.
    Multiply your head & your hands.

    This is in my opinion i am only 22 years old but i realy have a lot of experience in the freelancing field I have overcomed many of the point i work in the 3d digital animation & still wolrd.

    Freelance is the begining of the dream, remmber that the pyramids are still there because its not a one guy work.

  • http://webdesigneruv.zapisnicek.cz/ webdesigner

    Freelancers are also needed. And its harder be freelancer.

  • http://www.ipraxa.com/ paulson

    The article is completely negative about freelancing, but still it depends upon the individual, how one takes it. You can take these points in a positive way, take the positive aspects. These are the things, one should keep in mind before choosing freelancing as a career option. Analyze the points and think, where do you stand? will you be really able to face these challenges?. The author has shared some valuable points.

  • Ruchir

    well..i am an architect and recently started my own office, earlier i was in corporate job ,but tht job is not allow me to fulfill my dreams,although i got a very good renumeration for the position i had…Since last 6 months i’m in the field.That’s very true tht there are too many chance to get failure as freelancer but in my opinion,there is no any best way to express your talent to the world..This article has a packet of stuff which can easily demoralized any one.but i believe that if you have a will then you can win the all challenges mentioned in the column…..Thanks to the writer,coz he/she made me more strong to prove them wrong……i’ll get success for sure…

  • http://www.atmmultimedia.com James King

    There is a lot of non-sense on the internet that glamourises freelancing setting up internet business and making huge sums of money online. It is mostly a myth, unless you place the time down.

    Some other things to notice in Freelancing: chasing clients for money is one of the hardest things to do.

    You’ve got to be good at doing this.

    • artzy66

      The best way to freelance is to have a steady job and do your contract work as a sideline. Even if you have to become a telemarketer or work at a hamburger joint.

      You could kill yourself on a project and then have the client refuse to pay… you should get money at each stage of a project before continuing to the next stage, and have a legal contract from the beginning, including an agreed-to ‘kill fee’ to protect against the client canceling the project for whatever reason at any given time.

  • http://dotcom-productions.com/ Reg Charie – NBS-SEO

    I have been a freelancer since 1990 when I got out of the corporate tech service $1000 hour scene.

    RE: 20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Freelancer
    1. You Think It Will Be Easier Than a Corporate Job
    It will be easier than dealing with that IDIOT boss and his Nazi secretary.

    2. You Don’t Have Much Experience
    I didn’t when I started 15 years ago. Can’t say that now.

    3. You Have No Business Sense
    I had been self supporting for 5 years when I became a freelancer.

    4. You Need Benefits
    Canadian Government does fine for me.

    5. You Think the Pay Will Be Better
    As a freelancer I have made $8000 US in 8 days.

    6. You Have No Self-Discipline
    I am here every day, all day.. …most days…….weekends,

    7. You Don’t Love Your Work
    That is why I quit the corporate life and started freelancing.
    After sailing computers and internet are my loves.

    8. You Think the Hours are Better
    They may not be better, but there is NO commuting on the DAMM 401 and I can choose them. No leaving at 6:20 AM to get into the office before 9 because it you wait 20 min more you will be in bumper to bumper traffic right across the damm top of the city.

    9. You Have No Space in Your House/Apartment/Bedroom for an Office
    My office takes up 25% of my living space, which makes sense as it is the most used.
    It also is the max suggested for tax deductions.

    10. You Don’t Know Where to Find Clients
    I know exactly where to find clients, in the search engine results and social networking.

    11. You Have No Project Management Skills or Experience
    I have managed projects that spanned 3 months and cost $140,000 as a freelancer.
    In the corporate world I set up production for Time Magazine Canada when it was moved to Toronto. Included training 9 web offset press crews in the quality controls, production methods and waste management.

    12. You Don’t Want to Deal With People
    I love dealing with people, especially the difficult ones.

    13. You Can’t Stand Up for Yourself
    Step outside and say that!

    14. You Have No Time-Management Skills

    15. You Can’t Self-Motivate
    I will answer this right after i join the procrastinator’s club.

    16. You Don’t Want to Maintain a Professional Image
    I can look very professional in my pajamas thank you.

    17. You Want Paid Vacations
    I am on a 24 hour 7 day a week vacation.

    18. You’re a Workaholic
    Of course I am. An “A” type personality or I never would have done this.

    19. You Don’t Want to Keep Regular Hours
    Regular hours = From the time I get up until the time I go to bed. This is written at 9:52 PM and I was up at 6 AM.

    20. You Don’t Like Being Alone
    Alone? I have a constant stream of friends IMing me.
    Best thing about having friends over via IM is that you don’t have to clean up after they leave.


  • john

    i work on a corporate job and been a freelance designer for 2 years at the same time, i take clients once im at home from work, my work schedule is from 8am – 5pm and my freelance time is from 8pm – 11pm, for me i love being a freelance coz i manage and decide my own, actually i have a partner who code my designs, we almost got a hundred plus clients since 2009 until now, the problem on a freelance is you dont have stable income maybe i think its because were just waiting for clients to email or PM us :D, my problem on my corporate job is my boss just keep on giving me projects even im still not done yet with what im doing, and he always give me insufficient info that i need, he just telling me to do this and do that its like going to a store that didn’t tell you what to buy, my boss dont know how and what to ask to our clients like asking a complete info that needed for their site, he also take some projects and give it to me without asking if i can do this or not, im tired of this and its give me headache every time im at work, or maybe i just need to move to another company? i still love to be a freelancer its much greater if i will have stable income on freelancing :D

  • http://nitingarg.com Nitin Garg

    I have been in full-time. Now, a freelance from 2 and half years.
    I feel Freelancing = hardwork=more aspirations=personal satisfaction.

    I do work more then i used to work in full-time. But, it satisfies me !

  • http://matthiassanne.wordpress.com Musback

    I’d just suggest you don’t start as a freelancer at the age of 21… Build up some experience in a corporation, find out how stuff works, how life outside college/your bedroom really works. I found out it’s really a “I scratch your back if you scratch mine” world… It’s all about networking, talking to people as much as you can, wherever you can.

  • http://isaacanchan.carbonmade.com/ Isaac

    Nice article… I’ve made my choice very clear. Yes, I run my own design business partnering with a copywriter, but, in addition I also am able to pave my way into the corporate sector as a design consultant working part-time on an hourly basis. This is very satisfying since, if in case I foresee a slump in my business for a season or quarter, accordingly I give more time to the company I’m involved with. Thus, the revenues generated kinda remains consistent….

    As a freelancer, you learn to adapt and become self-dependent… you know your capabilities and are sure to maximize your potential, provided you know what you would like to do… passion for excellence is key! Kudos to all freelancers!!