Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Employment vs. Freelance: Pros and Cons

'If you want to make a career of writing, should you look for a full-time job in a company or strike out on your own as a freelancer? Good question. I’ve done both and have come to the conclusion that freelancing is what I like best. I earn good money, set my own hours, and I don’t have to deal with the stress of traffic, corporate politics, and an office full of idiots and suck-ups. Oh, and no ties. I hate ties. I work in jeans and Hawaiian shirts. Yes, I know I’m wearing a tie in my publicity photos, but I did it just that once. And with therapy, I’ve recovered from the experience fairly well. But that’s just me. I know plenty of people who prefer having a writing job working for one company. They like getting a regular paycheck, having a set schedule, and socializing with co-workers every day. Just because freelancing is best for me doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone.'
--from a recent post on the Men With Pens blog.

21 Comments:

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Kim said...

Holy cow, did I just get sidetracked. I read this post about an hour ago, went to Men with Pens, then looked at the e*book links (wondered if I would need some testosterone to participate)... and finally I'm back to report that Men with Pens has good advice for women, too!

Great resource.

Speaking for myself, freelancing is completely the way to go, as a supplemental income. Most of my work goes unpaid. My bosses are a bit demanding when "they have nothing to wear" but for the most part, I have a say in how my day goes, and I still have time to write.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who are brave enough to make freelancing their sole source of income. Kudos!

(and how I wish there was a typo checker on the comments!)

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Glad you found it useful, Kim. And it is indeed full of advice and ways of thinking about things that are utterly non-gender-specific. The name is really more a branding gimmick (and an effective one at that) than anything. Rather different than, say, The Man Show on cable TV. Anyone remember that?

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Kass said...

I work out of my home as a massage therapist and much prefer this to working at a spa (5 or 6 massages a day/5 days a week). I guess this is kind of freelance. The magazine articles I've written as a freelance writer were fun. I can't imagine writing as a full-time job. Freelance, in general, offers so much more freedom, but I do miss having a reason to get up and look half-way decent for a regular job with irregular people.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I never knew that about you, Kass. Either I've missed that on your blog, or you haven't mentioned it there. Either way, I found it interesting. How long have you been doing that?

And by the way, writing as a fulltime job and freelancing are not mutually exclusive. For some of us, they're the same thing. We write for a living, independently. I don't really like the word freelance, and haven't used it in years. Why? Because, like "nonfiction," it attempts to define (quite awkwardly) something by what it's not, and seems to imply by the very word that writing should be on behalf of some employer or in a staff position. Hardly true. Great writing and awful writing can be found in both camps.

 
At 11:23 AM, Blogger Kass said...

John - I mentioned it in my tag list of 10 things that make me happy. I escaped the corporate world 8 years ago and moved to Palm Desert right after massage school. I worked in a spa there. It was a great adventure. I came back to Salt Lake after the winter season and opened Little House of Healing out of my home. I taught for 2 years at the massage school I graduated from. I enjoy the work, but it doesn't define me. Thanks for asking.

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

That's right. I do recall reading that now. And thanks for the reminder that your tag on this remains on my to do list, since it prompted some great 10 things lists from some of our mutual pals.

LOVE that Little House of Healing name. That's inspired. Since I've always wanted to visit Salt Lake City (it's on a list of about a half dozen major cities in America that I've yet to visit but really want to, along with Denver, Houston, Miami and Phoenix) perhaps I'll add that to my travel to-do list this year. It'd be oh so cool to meet you. We'll see if cheap flights slowly begin returning as the economy picks up.

 
At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Mike Q said...

As for the pros and cons of employment vs. freelancing, I've found that when you work for an organization you quickly become the schmo down the hall. The latest consultant to buy lunch has more credibility.

Freelancing offers much more professional satisfaction. Clients use you because they value your work, especially with repeat assignments.

However, a client can also misinterpret the "free" in freelance -- and so can you. No matter the day or the hour, I've often felt I should be working on a project or looking for another.

(Insecure? Moi?)

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Mike, you've put your finger on something essential for me (and I assume for many others who are self-employed): clients tend to value our expertise in ways they wouldn't on the second day we became their employee. But I'd add that that's not just because they're unenlightened and unrealistic, though of course there's some of that. I think when you're selling your services to a client, you're always at least trying to be on top of your game, demonstrating your value in an ongoing fashion, in ways that will win repeat business, in cases where that's possible. And of course demonstrating value means also articulating it. And too many employees forget to do all that with their bosses. They forget to sell the moment they're hired. That's a big mistake, doubly so in tough economic times. So it's a double-sided problem.

 
At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Mike Q said...

True.

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Gabriela Abalo said...

An interesting subject the one you are discussing today. I have been in the corporate world for the last 15 years and I’m planning to move out of it this July. My time has come for me to move into something else. I want to be the captain of my hours, I want to decide how to spend them and when to spend them.
Both world have pros and cons as Mike well pointed out, so it is up to each person to find the one that works better to his/her reality.
Corporate work offers that feeling of “being safe” while freelance puts butterflies in your tummy as you never know what to expect next. The funny side of it is that even that “safety” offered by corporations is unreal, as they can decide to retrench you any time and then you have to face the world unprepared and scared.
I don’t know how being freelance will work for me, as this is also coming with a career move – from being a business process re-engineering and Change Management consultant to teach yoga, do reiki, massage, writing and photographing – quite a challenge! But I’m really looking forward to face and enjoy it.

loveNlight
Gabi

 
At 7:28 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I rather like that phrase "captain of my hours." Good luck with your plans, Gabi, and thanks for sharing your take.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Britta said...

My friend David Bailey has a really great blog post up this week about his experience in this realm, still trying to decide for himself what is the right side of the fence to be on.
http://cueconfessions.wordpress.com/

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

How timely of him. Thanks, BW, I'll check it out.

 
At 6:08 PM, Blogger Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Ask them how I can teach from home - I would be glad to give up the commute to Cleveland Hts everyday!!!

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger CJ said...

Funny, but I much prefer being in-house. Running my own shop never appealed to me, and I found out I really liked the daily camaraderie of the office (the politics, not so much!). Anyway, I'm headed back to an office now, and I'm very happy about it. Check back in 3 months and we'll see! cj

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

CJ, a serious congratulations on your new job, though we'll certainly miss having you in Cleveland. But that'll be Chicago's gain. Diane, maybe you can teach online.

I've been meaning to make the point on this thread that we needlessly assume that working for oneself means working from home. That's not neither a given, nor (I think) the optimal situation. I did do that for a few years at first, just a few. But it gets old, fast, for all the reasons folks here highlight (mostly the isolation) and more. Over the last decade or so, I've simply taken the best of both world--found an office sharing arrangement with a compatible group, shared the space and amenities (copier, phones, clerical help), and, perhaps best of all, got all of it simply by tranding a few hours of my services each month. It's the best of all worlds, and the world is full of opportunities like that, especially for creatives, if only you look for them.

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Kim said...

John, wow... now the wheels really are turning. In my neck of the woods, they are just about giving away office space. I just never thought it practical to take an office to myself. What a fabulous idea to share space with like minded folks. I KNOW I would be a much more productive writer).

(though my sock pairing time may suffer, aw shucks!)

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Hope you blaze a trail in your region, Kim. It can't help but make you more productive. There's a not-so-subtle change in one's brain when you leave your house--which has a thousand possible diversions--and head to your office, which has but a single focus.

 
At 7:01 AM, Blogger Pat Washington said...

"There's a not-so-subtle change in one's brain when you leave your house...and head to your office...." So true, John. My "office" for the past several years has been a corner of my dining room. Sometimes I do like to go to the office (at my other job), even if it's just to enjoy the clean desk.

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

I faintly remember the last time I had a clean desk, either at home or the office. I think it was during the first Reagan Administration.

 
At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Hezbut Tawheed said...

Make continuation of such useful works. Thanks.

 

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