Working as a freelancer and making a full-time living from the comfort of your home is a fascinating thought for most people. The number of corporate professionals leaving their jobs for a freelancing career is on the rise and according to recent studies, almost 40% of the American workforce will go freelance by 2020.
There are good reasons for this trend as well. Corporate jobs are becoming increasingly stressful and less rewarding with long working hours and dead social lives.
Freelancing, on the other hand, gives you the freedom to manage things your own way. It puts you in control of your life, something corporate employees only dream about.
However, like everything else in this world, freelancing also comes with certain challenges and pressures. Uncertainty, time-management and getting out of your comfort zone are some of the major challenges that you have to face as a freelancer.
However, my focus in this post is something different.
Social Pressures – My Biggest Challenge So Far
It has been almost 1 year since I left my secure corporate job for a freelance writing career. And one of the biggest challenges that I’ve had to face so far is social pressure of being a freelancer.
Yes, it’s not clients or money. It’s the people around me and how they’ve responded to this, rather drastic, career move.
From my parents to former colleagues and close friends, almost everyone thinks I’ve gone nuts!
They can’t digest the fact that I have chosen self satisfaction and happiness over money and social status. During all my 4.5 years as an employee, I never felt as complete and satisfied as I feel now with my destiny in my own hands.
I am happy and I know a lot of those who oppose this career move want to emulate me.
But it takes courage.
5 Common Arguments to Pull You Down
If you’re a freelancer, I congratulate you because you’re a part of the elite club that defies social norms and challenges the status quo.
This post is dedicated to you.
Here are some of the most common social pressures and arguments that I face regarding my career move as a freelancer.
I am sure a lot of you will be able to relate.
1. Freelancing is NOT a Career
This is probably the most common argument that I’ve come across. A career, in most peoples’ eyes, is a steady professional path where you perform established jobs and move upward on the organizational ladder.
For a freelancer, a career means something very different. It’s about establishing yourself as the go-to guy in your industry. It doesn’t have any fixed positions and there’s a lot of uncertainty.
But the rewards are equally satisfying as well.
The more you’re established as a freelancer the higher your rates get. I have personally been able to charge some of my clients almost 3 times my last salary for projects lasting 2-3 working days!
This is something I never dreamt about as an employee.
So in simple words, I don’t buy this argument. I believe that freelancing not only offers a much more lucrative career in monetary terms, it also teaches you real life lessons that no job can.
2. There’s No Fixed Income, No Security, No Certainty!
You only get to live once and it’s your choice how you spend the limited time you have.
You can either scrap your way fearing the uncertainties of life or you can see this as a real opportunity for greater things.
I love freelancing because of this very reason. I know there’s no fixed income and there’s lots of uncertainty.
But isn’t that a good thing?
As an employee, I knew no matter how hard I work, my salary would remain the same until the annual appraisals arrive.
The very fact that there’s no limit to my income as a freelancer drives me to work much harder and aim for much bigger things.
As for uncertainty, life itself is uncertain.
Most of the people who were laid off during the recent recession believed that they had secure jobs.
Unfortunately, they were wrong.
Having said that, if you work with a plan and know what you’re doing, you can reduce this element of uncertainty to a great extent.
3. How Would You Introduce Yourself to Someone?
Ah! This one’s my mother’s favorite.
She gets confused when someone asks her about my profession.
“He does some marketing on the computer”, is her usual, often shaky, response.
I see this a little differently.
Anyone who has worked in the corporate world knows the value of titles.
Titles or designations are often as important, if not more, as the monetary benefits associated with that job.
However, if you’ve worked in the corporate world, you would also know how shallow these titles often are.
There’s rarely enough substance behind them. It’s more talking the talk than walking it.
If you choose to live with titles that make you happy then it’s your choice. I don’t have a problem with it.
But I refuse to limit my potential for doing greater things for mere titles.
I am much happier being introduced to someone as a freelance writer or marketer who’s satisfied with his work than a project manager who always wondered what he was doing at work.
4. You’re Wasting Your University Degree!
I know the corporates are frustrated by the increasing number of university graduates going freelance.
After all, most university graduates are “programmed” to serve corporations as employees.
But that does not mean you can’t work for yourself once you graduate.
I did my bachelors degree in marketing and after working almost half a decade with a corporate employer, I can safely say that I am putting my marketing skills to much better use as a freelancer than I used to do in my job.
Its all about perspective.
In fact, higher studies only make you much better equipped to run your own business.
5. Your Social Life Would Be Dead
You might hear this one at the start of your freelancing journey since that is usually the time when you’re striving hard to get clients and establish yourself.
I found the answer to this one on a motivational Facebook page which said,
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
However, if despite establishing yourself as a freelancer and generating a steady stream of clients, you still find yourself working extra hours and killing your social life, then you’re certainly getting it wrong.
The essence of freelancing is freedom and control.
If any one of these components is missing, then you need to re-evaluate your strategy.
6. Anyone Can Be a Freelance Writer
But isn’t that true for any other field of life as well?
Freelance writing seems simple from the outside. But anyone who has been a part of this vast and rapidly evolving field knows that this is far from true.
It takes a lot of targeted efforts, careful strategy and skill to make it big as a freelance writer.
And the more sophisticated and user centric Google search engine algorithms get, the more apparent will the value of quality freelance writers, bloggers and copywriters become as well.
There will be times when social pressures will get the better of you. They might even force you to seriously consider a corporate job again. But in such moments of weakness, remember these great words by Steve Jobs,
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
Just a Moment…….
What I’ve written in this post, comes from personal experiences. However, I am sure you can add something valuable to this list based on your freelance journey so far. I would love to hear the arguments and pressures that you’ve faced from your close circles. Looking forward to seeing your comments!