Freelancing is one of the most common routes to entrepreneurship. Workers are attracted to this path, because it means working for themselves. It also means not needing to manage anyone else, as small business owners often have to. In short, total freedom and independence — or is it?
Special thanks to the media, freelancing often conjures up images of working via a laptop in hotel rooms, or by the pool. These images encourage freelancers to look forward to completely giving up responsibility, and being a master of their time and their lives.
But while these examples do exist, they are far from the norm. So before you quit your job to magically make money from a hotel room in the Caribbean, here are a few things you should know about becoming a freelancer.
1. Losing Free Time
One basic characteristic of a day-job is that you usually have a set schedule. You generally know exactly when to go in, when to leave, and what your paycheck will look like at the end of the month.
With freelancing, there is no set hours or paycheck. Your income depends on your availability, and your ability to find clients, and complete tasks on time.
More often than not, this means being on-call 24/7, and being willing to drop personal plans on a dime to complete work for a client.
2. Never a Full Vacation
As a freelancer, since you have no one to “watch the shop” while you’re away, you can never fully unplug for vacation. Clients may need to reach you for an emergency, or someone may need to speak with you about potential work.
So all those posts of freelancers working from the Caribbean on their laptops? Totally feasible. But we would much rather be at a spa, and spending time with our friends; than watching them swim, while we work. Work is work, whether it happens on a beach or in a cubicle.
3. Taxes Can Get Complicated
One big responsibility a lot of independent contractors and freelancers face, is filing their taxes. Freelance taxes can get complicated, especially when you need to account for all the different streams of income.
How often you file taxes will depend on how much you make, but the general rule of thumb is to expect to lose 25 – 30 per cent of your income. To ensure you’re always compliant, hiring a professional accountant is always a better idea than filing taxes yourself.
Freelancing definitely has its perks, but it has become so romanticized that many beginners are shocked to find out what’s behind the curtain. Like any other career move, it takes hard word and dedication — maybe more than others. But if you’re willing to put in the hard work, the benefits are worth it in the end.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.