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Freelance Employment: a Viable Option

Freelance Employment: a Viable Option

With all the knowledge, skills and experience I've accumulated, I have found freelance employment a possible option for changing careers – or for having a parallel career. In today’s fast-changing economy, businesses are downsizing. They are also outsourcing part of the work that they prefer not to do or are unable to do in-house. Recent figures show that over 20 million people in North America do some form of freelancing. I’ve been a freelancer myself for a good part of my teaching and writing career. Why can’t you?

Advantages of Freelance Employment

Freelance employment offers many advantages:

1. Flexible working hours. You decide when you want to work.
2. Flexible working conditions. You get to choose where you’ll work. It could be in your home office or at a picnic table in the country.
3. Freedom from bosses. You don’t have to put up with the power-hungry ones who try to make your life miserable if you let them.
4. Control. You have a certain degree of control over the kinds of projects you work on.
5. Independence. You are your own boss; you get to work as hard or easy as you wish.

Disadvantages of Freelance Employment

On the flip side, freelance employment can have its challenges:

1. Although you decide when you want to work, you have to have a high level of motivation and self-discipline to work on your own.
2. If you work from a home office, you run the risk of being isolated. You also have to deal with many distractions, such as reading the papers or watching TV.
3. You may not have a boss, but you have to deal with clients who are often very demanding.
4. If you outsource some of the work on a project, you can sometimes hire the wrong people who make life difficult.
5. If you’re running your own freelancing business, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades, from marketing to managing the books.

In "The new retirement model - a pathway to happiness," Howard Stone offers some ideas for freelance employment.

Writing: another good choice for freelancers

I found that writing is one of the best opportunities for freelancing. This can include copywriting, research, editing, training and motivation and educational, creative or commercial or technical writing.

I’ve been doing freelance educational writing for most of my career. In my early career I had the good fortune to be part of a textbook writing project - seven years in the making - with a major publisher. Its success defied the laws of publishing. Let me explain.

When I sat down with my co-authors in the vice-president’s office to sign the contract, he said that we would be lucky if the “book” lasted five to seven years in schools. The textbook market can be very fickle indeed. Guess what! Over twenty years later I am still collecting royalties or residual income on the “book.” You have to realize that the “book” was in fact a series of five textbooks that included a hardcover student book, a teacher guide and audio materials. But most importantly it included a workbook which students purchased every year. I like to compare myself to Gillette: they sell razor blades and I sell workbooks.

Why residual income is so important

Residual or passive income is revenue that continues over time for work done once. It should be your goal as a writer. It’s the best way to leverage your time and effort for maximum income. So be on the look-out for opportunities where you are not just trading time for money but collecting royalties.

Recommended reading

The 4-Hour Workweek, offers useful freelance employment advice. Tim Ferriss says that you shouldn’t view one product, job, or project as the end-all and be-all of your existence. I might add that you should choose your projects wisely. Keep in mind the opportunity cost of working on one project versus another. Ferriss has a number of worthwhile suggestions for starting your own business.

Bokca.com has a whole host of informative articles devoted to freelancing.

You Inc: Creating Your Life as a Free Agent.

Terri Lonier, Gail Blanke, William Bridges, Guy Kawasaki, Daniel H. Pink Click Here

It gives you all the information you need to make a successful move out of the traditional corporate structure and into the flexibility and fulfillment of independent business.

Listen to this

lively conversation between Dr. Fred and myself about freelance employment.
To hear other interviews and to subscribe to our podcast
visit our midlife crisis coping podcast page.

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