Growing Online Income

The Downsides to Being Self Employed

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So… I love my work and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity, after all I wrote a post on the perks of being an online entrepreneur. I think it’s important to show both sides of the coin, especially if you’re considering taking the plunge into freelancing or being an online entrepreneur.

I want my blog to be honest, to show the up and downs – the good, bad and ugly!

While the good outweighs the bad ten times over, it’s not all roses…

Here are the downsides to being self employed that I have personal experience with:

1) It’s Hard Not to Be in Work Mode
A single email can change my week’s income from mediocre to Hell Yeah. As such, emails are pretty exciting for me. Likewise, it’s pretty sad when the emails aren’t freely flowing. I wake up in the morning and want to check my emails straight away because I’m curious as to how things are going. An email pops up at dinner? I find it pretty hard to resist. This is something I’m really working on – creating clear work boundaries and making sure I take substantial breaks.

2) It Can Be Lonely
As much as working with colleagues was annoying, it was nice to have people to talk to… you know when there wasn’t work politics or drama in the way of genuine conversation. I get a bit bored sometimes, but less so since my partner is also working online. When we’re in Asia I’d like to look into shared workspaces to network, be more social while working and be a little more productive.

3) You Start Realising Your Time Has a Dollar Value
When I first started freelance writing and started earning around $30-40 per hour, it was a lot of money for me. I found it hard to turn down extra work, because that was essentially turning down extra money. Time I spent with friends and family was occasionally shadowed by a pang of guilt – “If I was working, I could make $xxx extra”. Thankfully, I’ve learned to put that aside and am also generally spending less time working so it’s a bit healthier.

4) Slow Weeks Feel Personal
After last month’s outrageous income of $21,000 for the month, I was hoping to improve on it. Unfortunately this month is painfully slow, which is quite boring and it’s somewhat easy to take it personally, too. You start to question everything you’ve been doing, whether the market has suddenly crashed, or what’s wrong! Even my worst months working for myself have financially been better than my best months working for someone else, but slow months suck. I blame the UK summer holidays – damn sunshine!

5) You Can be Really Hard on Yourself
I think you have to be somewhat tough on yourself to keep things ticking, but it can escalate to a whole new level. I’ve noticed that I can be really hard on myself when the weeks are quiet, even if it’s just the normal fluctuation of the work I do. Inconsistent work and pay cheques can be very confusing!

6) It Can be Hard to Plan and Budget
Because my income fluctuates I can never be certain how much I’m going to earn. Thankfully my living expenses are still quite small compared to my income, so I’m never falling short of my living expenses but it can be hard to predict how much spare cash I’ll have to put into my emergency fund or savings account.

Are you self employed? Do you notice any of these downsides? If you’re not self employed, are you planning to be?