The Freelance Conspiracy Theory – by Melinda Lewis

Is the “Freelance Economy” as good as everyone makes it out to be?  As more and more colleagues are becoming consultants and freelancers, I am shifting away from working independently for a few reasons.  I have been a solopreneur running a sole proprietorship for over five years and have seen the good, bad and ugly side of working on my own.  I have enjoyed every project sincerely as it has taught me a great deal more than a sit-at-my-desk-and-wait-for-lunch job although some patterns have emerged that have led me to ponder the “Freelance Conspiracy Theory.”  If you are a freelancer or planning on becoming one, I’d like to bring up the following points for you to consider:

1) Health Insurance – This is still a major issue for many freelancers as insurance and costs are hard to calculate ahead of time.  Do your best to save for emergencies and find out all you can about health care options in your state.

2) Work-Life Balance – If you think you will have more time for vacations as a freelancer that may be true, although if you aren’t working you aren’t earning.  A popular misconception is that freelancers are lazy.   It’s not uncommon for many freelancers to work 60+ hours and through the weekends either finishing projects or actively searching for the next opportunity.

3) Contractual Obligations – Working on your own means that you are obliged to abide by legal agreements with some clients.  These agreements may include non-compete clauses or other restrictive contracts that may hinder your solo business for one or two years, depending on the nature of the agreement.  Have your own contract and be ready to negotiate.

4) Taxes – There’s no time like an audit to realize you messed up on your taxes.  Taxes and health insurance are two areas that you need to spend some time understanding thoroughly to prevent any major “uh, oh” moments from happening.  If you’re filing jointly or in another country, different rules apply.  Get the facts from the source.

5) Idea Stealing – In many situations, a client may ask for a proposal in which you will outline your proposed services.  After you present such a proposal, the client may get their “own ideas”, thanks to your proposal, and then decide not to hire you.  This is a very difficult situation and more often than not, there is nothing you can do, unless you believe that karma will take care of the situation.

Are you an independent professional who has faced these or similar situations?

About the author:

Melinda Lewis is an experienced, digital marketing professional based in San Francisco.  She has assisted over 20 start-ups and multinationals with online marketing in the areas of affiliate marketing, new business, development/sales, marketing strategy and research.  In addition, she also has taught marketing and business classes in San Francisco and Paris.