In the search for information, a job seeker will encounter articles (bloggers and columnists!) that advise about surviving between jobs. They will toss “get a freelance gig” over their shoulder as if jobs of the kind lie on the ground like fallen leaves in October.
“I will not have you ignorant brethren”. Freelance “gigs” (term borrowed from the music world) don’t happen that way.
There seems to be a whiff of disdain for freelancers as if they are somehow lower in the table of occupations than people who hold so-called “real jobs”. Definitions run like this: Real Jobs: held by employees–35-40 hours per week/at corporation owned by somebody else/salary and benefits-9-to-5. Freelance: former employee who is only “on her own” a little while and is doing this to make some money until another “real job” comes along.
Before you take to heart any advice from these articles about freelancing or any of its sisters including consulting, have this basic understanding: freelancers are enterpreneures. They are independent service providers who contract with other businesses by the project or by term. This is not a lark. This is very hard work.
A freelancer procures business, markets services, and negotiates fair prices herself. A freelancer keeps books, makes collections, pays taxes, and makes her own Social Security contributions. A freelancer researches and buys the best health insurance plan for herself. The cost of vacations and rest days are at her own expense, so when she is just too tired and sick to work, she makes her own chicken soup. Some freelancers would swear that it is much like art: you do not choose it, it chooses you. Freelancers are business organization model “sole proprietor”. They may do business under their own name or a business name– a “d.b.a.”, “doing business as”. They may work out of an office carved out of a space in the home or another rented space.
In other words, freelancing is a viable way to make a living but only for they who have the self discipline, tenacity, dedication and patience. As the Gatorade ad says, “is it in you?”