October 14th, 2008
Last week I posted a link to the Biznik Live web radio interview I did on freelancing in a down economy. Since then, a number of people have asked me whether I think freelancers have more job security than nine-to-fivers. I do. Here’s why:
- Our checks come from multiple companies rather than just one. If one client tanks, we replace them with another. I just had a client dry up last week. Instead of crying in my coffee, I’m actually excited that I’ll have a bit more room in my schedule to find a bigger and better client to work with and already have a couple leads.
- We’re endlessly flexible. If one market dies off, we adapt. No more travel writing budget at your favorite media outlet? Then you write consumer reviews, or business tips, or pop culture trend pieces for them. And/or you start writing for travel trade publications and the hospitality/travel industry (as in, copywriting). Which any good freelancer would be doing anyway, as diversification is key, even when the economy isn’t taking a nosedive.
- We’re old pros at interviewing and selling ourselves. Especially compared to our nine-to-five friends, who may not have had a job interview in five years and, facing a layoff, may feel daunted at the prospect of having to get out there and market themselves. Freelancers, on the other hand, are constantly “interviewing” on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Plus, we have the most up-to-date bios, resumes, and portfolios around.
- It’s still cheaper for companies to hire freelancers than employees. That’s not to say freelancers will replace all employees, or that some outsourcing budgets won’t be cut in this crummy economy. But someone has to do the work. And if a company has 100 hours of work that no one on staff has the time or expertise to complete, they’re going to outsource it.
For these reasons, I recommend interested nine-to-fivers hone their freelancing chops and pick up a moonlighting gig or two on top of their day job asap. Why?
- You need the money anyway. After all, gas costs $80 a gallon and a salad at your favorite deli is like $35. Besides, you want to be able to buy your sweetie something other than a lottery ticket for Chrismukkah, right?
- You need the interview practice. You need to get to the point where you no longer say, “Wah! I hate interviewing and looking for work. Woe is me. Wah!” Freelancing gives you that much-needed practice selling yourself. In time, the pain of “interviewing” pretty much dissipates. In fact, many full-time freelancers are so busy that we wish we had more free time so we could pitch for articles or woo more clients.
- You need a fallback case you get laid off. Freelancing might just be the lifeline that saves you financially if you lose your day job. Often, it pays a heck of a lot better than those meager unemployment checks. And, in case you didn’t know, to collect unemployment, you usually need to (a) prove that you’re looking for full-time work, and (b) attend some state-run “how to find a job” workshops. I’ve done it at the end of a full-time contract gig, and I could only keep it up a month. Freelancing is much more enjoyable, and better paying.
Entry Filed under: This freelance life