What pink-slipped employees can learn from freelancers

October 23rd, 2008

From today’s ABCNews.com column

People keep asking me, “Isn’t it scary to not have an employer and steady paycheck in this economy?”

As a freelancer, I get paid by about half a dozen companies each month. So job security is not something I fret too much about. If one client dries up, as happens at least once a year (if not once a quarter), I have four or five other sources of income to rely on. And while my nine-to-five counterparts might spend the better part of a year looking for work in the wake of a layoff, my pavement-pounding phase usually lasts all of two to three weeks, if that.

I’ve been through financial fallouts before as a freelancer. OK, maybe not the “worst financial crisis since the Depression.” But I was self-employed when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, taking much of my freelance work with it, and after 9/11, when many staff and freelance budgets vanished seemingly overnight. Both times, I spit-polished my resume, hit the online highway and came up with a new set of clients and projects.

And while I know that the rapid-fire freelance job hunt can’t compare to the umpteen weeks and financial and emotional toll that looking for a staff position takes, I can’t help but think that full-time job hunters could learn a trick or two from their scrappier self-employed counterparts.

In an economic climate like this, you can’t entrust your fate to the employers and hiring managers. Not when you have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed. You have to be proactive, flexible, enterprising, even bootstrapping.

In short, you have to operate like a free agent.

Read the rest of this article on ABCNews.com.

Entry Filed under: Popular articles,This freelance life

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Renee  |  October 24th, 2008 at 7:23 am

    I envy the fact that you have multiple recurring clients!

    I’m still trying to find my “sweet spot” as a designer. I get a nice bulk of business, but with web/graphic design it’s tricky. If a client purchases a whole package (logo, business cards, and a website) it’s kind of a one and done type thing. The most people usually need is they’ll come back for a logo (but much later on) or a website update (which are generally few and far between).

    That’s the only thing stopping me from kicking the 9-5!
    Love your blog and books!

    Renee :)

  • 2. Michelle Goodman  |  October 24th, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Renee, you might want to try connecting with some larger companies and/or creative agencies. I’m sure you know this, but many do hire designers to help with new web and print content throughout the year. They need much more than the introductory business identity package. Any time they roll out a product, there are web pages and marketing kits to design.

  • 3. Torley  |  October 26th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    New reader here, found out about you by way of clicking on one motivational hyperlink after another. Thanx for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us, Michelle! I look forward to more of your writings. =D

  • 4. Michelle Goodman  |  October 27th, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Thanks, Torley. Enjoy!

  • 5. Andy Drish  |  November 4th, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Michelle – I just started my career at a large financial services industry… Since we’ve had this financial crisis, I’ve seen a couple RIFs (reduction in force).

    It’s made me realize that there is absolutely no such thing as job security…

  • 6. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide &ra&hellip  |  November 9th, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    [...] posted about freelancing during a recession last month. Then I wrote an ABC News column about it, did a podcast on it, and gave some advice on mediabistro’s GalleyCat blog about what [...]

  • 7. The Time to Think About Y&hellip  |  November 18th, 2008 at 7:58 am

    [...] afraid you might not stay that way. Unfortunately, some people could very well become independent without their consent. With this in mind, I encourage employees to give some thought to what you would do if the worst [...]

  • 8. Paula G  |  December 16th, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Great article. Loved your book “My So-Called Freelance Life”…

    About 12 years ago when a consultant told me (as I was trying to change careers within companies, the self-employed idea hadn’t even taken hold yet) — you need to start becoming CEO of You, Inc. my life changed. It was indeed the shift from cube farm lemming to creating what I wanted & taking responsibility for that that has made all the difference for me.

  • 9. Michelle Goodman  |  December 16th, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Thanks, Paula. Yeah, been doing this 16 years. So much nicer to have some company in other freelancers now. :)

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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