Why I Said NO to Freelancing and Didn’t Regret It

This post is from guest contributor Lauren Bowling. Lauren is the blogger behind personal finance site, L Bee and the Money Tree where she writes about the link between finance and self esteem. As a freelance writer, Lauren’s work has been published on Yahoo! Finance, Credit.com and The Huffington Post. Lauren lives in Atlanta with her puppy, Murray, and enjoys yoga and renovating her first home in her spare time.

My journey as a freelance writer began after I moved home from New York city in 2012 and started my blog, L Bee and the Money Tree.

After I basically talked about my blog non-stop on an interview to be his executive assistant, my old boss offered me a job as a content writer for his software start-up instead.

I never dreamed that working the 9-5 would lead to so many networking opportunities. People were actually interested in my blog, social media and SEO skills. I began taking on writing/social media management gigs in my spare time, and soon I was spending a good 15-20 hours each week on my solo endeavors.

During this time, I blossomed in my full-time too, becoming the manager of the marketing department in under a year all the while building my blog, brand, and portfolio as a freelance writer.

I wasn’t in any hurry to leave my job, but I began to dream about being able to live my life as I saw fit. The fantasy began to turn into a reality when I saw how close my freelance salary was to matching my freelance income.

say no to freelancing

Before I knew it, I was planning an exit strategy: I’d work my 9-5 gig as marketing manager until my debt was paid off and my savings had been replenished (a costly home renovation had depleted them.) Between building my client base and saving up money, I calculated that I could seamlessly make the switch from full-time to freelance in August 2014.

Except life never goes quite as you plan, and I was laid off from my full time job in February 2014. So I was left with a decision to make. Even though I wasn’t prepared mentally or financially, was now the time to start freelancing? Was this the sign?

For a full two weeks I agonized over the decision. Ultimately, I said no to freelancing and took a similar position at another software company. Here are the four reasons why:

Reason #1. I’m already doing what I love.

Right now, I love what I do. I love marketing and writing content for businesses. And this career choice is still within the same field of work that I do for my own blog.

So while “escaping the 9-5” sounds amazing, it isn’t quite a desperate, break-down-the-cubicle walls thing for me, and whether it is working for “the man” or for myself; the service offering is the same.

Reason #2. I don’t have enough clients…yet.

While I was extremely close to being able to match my previous salary with freelance income, you have to factor in other expenses when you are working for yourself.

In his ebook “Beat the 9-5”, Robert Farrington suggests you need to make 25% more than your desired salary to account for self-employment taxes and incidentals. I wasn’t quite there at the time I was laid off, so I decided to keep working at it.

Lauren Bowling
Lauren Bowling

Reason #3. Lack of savings.

Whenever I do decide to freelance full-time, I want to make sure I have enough in the bank to give it a fair shake. Had I decided to freelance this time, any small disaster would have sent me reeling.

While I appreciated all of the love and encouragement I got to give freelancing a go, you really can’t expect emergencies, and being financially prepared is important to me. Many amazing freelancers I admire have great stories of how they’ve ended up succeeding in the face of adversity, but after years of reckless financial behavior, I prefer to play it safe… for now.

Reason #4. I still have a lot to learn.

And the final reason why I put off freelancing is the realization that I am still very early on in my career. I know that with any experience you learn something, but I’d like the opportunity to see how I can grow — at least in another place of business — before I begin taking that on myself.

After being an actor, I’ve really only worked in two places and only in my chosen profession for two years. I want the opportunity to learn from others in my chosen field, because I can grow by leaps and bounds both personally and professionally in my last job.

It may sound like complete justification, but I’m happy with my decision to say NO to freelancing and excited to see what happens in the future.

Are you thinking of becoming a full-time freelancer? Can you relate to these reasons?

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16 comments

  1. I think giving up the security, steadiness, and benefits of the 9-5 isn’t quite as simple a decision as people think it is. It sounds like you’ve thought it through and when you do decide to go freelance, you’ll be totally prepped. Good luck and congrats on the new gig!

  2. I can relate. It’s fun to freelance on the side when you’ve got a full-time job.

    It’s also cool to think if you need $100 for a pair of shoes, you write an article and get them if you want.

    Thank goodness for the internet!

  3. Candice Shaw says:

    It’s funny but I came across your blog a few days ago and became obsessed Lauren. I agree with all of the points you listed above and if I were as level headed as you I would have continued to work full time as well because it’s the most sane decision. Oh, the money I would have had lol.

    I’ve run into quite a few of those small disasters but somehow I’m still trucking on. I wonder if I’ll ever be a 9-5er again.

    • Lauren says:

      I still definitely want to freelance one day, I love the idea of working for myself, but know that there will be time for this down the road!

  4. Great info Lauren, and so true. I think people don’t realize how tough it really is. It feels to me like it’s almost glamorized too often. I have warned some people who want to jump into freelancing without being what I would consider fully prepared, but if they are adamant about it they need to just experience it for themselves. I’m actually looking for a full time job now after almost 6 years of freelancing. What a ride it’s been.

    • Lauren says:

      I think as long as you keep working hard and keep your skills sharp you can make it as both a freelancer and a 9-5er or anything in between. Those with drive can do anything. Fingers crossed on the job hunt!

  5. NZ Muse says:

    I think that you made the right choice (if I recall right I was one of the few commenters on your blog who didn’t think the time was quite right for you to go freelance…)

    I would not go freelance unless forced into it for reasons beyond my control. I work in digital content, so I get to write/edit/play online all day, which is awesome, and I have great coworkers and a flexible job. I don’t like uncertainty, am bad at marketing, and work in a very small market (of course I would freelance for overseas clients too, but many prefer local and because I’m in such a high COL country I definitely cannot compete on price). It would be hard for me to earn a good living freelancing – I would need to make a LOT, and local freelancers I know find it a struggle much of the time. I’m also making a slight career shift next month which I think will increase my earning potential even more (and it’s in my dreamiest of dream sectors, travel/tourism).

    • Lauren says:

      Yes, you were ..I think THE ONLY person who agreed with me. I think the biggest point is that I already do full-time what I would do if I freelanced. In the past that hasn’t always been the case. I still hope to one day become a freelancer or work for myself.

  6. Charlotte says:

    Lauren, this is an insightful and honest post. It’s important to challenge ourselves but at the same time, if you have a good thing going on, why run from it? Wishing you all the best as you grow your side business and continue to excel at your day job!

    • Lauren says:

      Freelancing offers a lot of perks, ones I hope to take full advantage of some day. After all, you have a career for over 40+ years. Plenty of time to do everything!

  7. Hi Lauren. Freelancing has its pros and cons like any other job. I currently work as a freelancer and i’m still beginner. It’s not an easy road, you have to work a lot to build your freelancing career.
    Cheers.

  8. It is easier to say no to freelance work when you have another work lined up. I actually said no to freelance work many times. My reasons aren’t logical but worked for me. I wanted to do my own things for myself on my own website. I had this silly notion that I would make it on my own. I had a few stressful months as a result of turning the income down. But I never lost hope or regretted my decision.

    I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t afraid to take chances. I had to dedicate my time to build my dream. Doesn’t matter that you work freelance or for a salary. The bottom line is that you are not working for yourself. It is important for me that I work for myself.

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