42 Tips: #42 – Know When To Fire Yourself

Note: This is an expanded version of the tips in 42 Tips To Better Freelancing.


Freelancing isn’t for everybody.

Some people try it and find out the hard way that it can be stressful, unforgiving, and just generally a lot of work. You need a lot of drive to be successful even if you offer the most amazing, niche, sought after service or product.

There’s no magic to freelancing and if there was it would be something like:

Work hard, do good work, and treat clients great.

That’s it. I’ve just given you my secret to being successful in freelancing wether you’re a writer, developer, designer, or anything in between.

It’s better to submit, than to be miserable

I’ve seen plenty of seasoned and long-term freelancers just up and “quit.” They have either found other opportunities or just grew tired of wearing every hat in a solo ran business.

The is no secret that freelancers, solo entrepreneurs, and those scaling up to build agencies will often have to wear many hats. During the course of day, week, or year, you might play a whole slew of roles in your business:

  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Writer
  • SEO
  • Marketer
  • Accountant
  • Customer service
  • Support
  • Sales
  • Project Manager
  • Collections!

And that is probably the short list…

It can get old and tiresome having to wear all those hats can weigh on you at times. I know because I’ve been there a million times where I’m ready to hang them all up for good.

But is the grass really greener or are you just seeing the surface?

The grass might look real green on the other side, especially if you haven’t been caring for your own lawn which is burnt, brown, and possibly full of dog shit.

Do you really think that company paying you as an hourly or even salary employee want’s you to only work 10 hours this week? Even if you do a full week of work in that time, do you really think they are ok with that? They want their 40, because it’s likely there’s always more work to be done.

I’m sure they exist but it’s a rare breed.

You’ll still be a slave to the clock most likely and you’re just building another persons business with your skills.

Sometimes it takes a reality check to realize we have it pretty good.

I don’t know of many companies out there that would like me work when I want, how I want, and as often or as little as I want.

Sometimes I have weeks where I work 60 hours, but more often I have weeks where I just answer email and maybe sit down to code for a few hours in spurts here and there, probably days apart even.

It’s not that I have no work (which does happen at times!) but more so that I try to build projects around the notion that I can’t just sit down and hammer out work all the time. And even if I could (I can) I don’t really WANT TO.

That’s why I love value based pricing (flat-fee, set scope, set timeline) because I’m not a slave to the clock. But that’s another post for another time.

Work to Live

That’s the motto I live my life by.

Work to live, don’t live to work. Find a way to use your freelance business as a driver for life. Because freelancing is a lifestyle.

And if reminding yourself that we have it great compared to most cubicle jockeys still doesn’t work, and you still want to step on that freshly mowed and plush green grass, then maybe it’s time to fire yourself.

Maybe it really is time to go work somewhere. There’s no shame in it and even I myself have had plenty of opportunities I thought would be great or fantastic learning experiences, even if I only hung around for a little while.

Even if you failed, you still didn’t fail.

Everything is a learning experience that can applied in other places of life. Or maybe it just wasn’t for you? It happens and you should find what you enjoy more. Some people love steady, and even the most successful freelancers aren’t steady every day, week, month, and year.

Living a life you enjoy is the most important thing at the end of the day.

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  1. John Locke says

    Amen, Drew. Even if we are working a deesign or development job where we don’t have to fill multiple roles, we are still building someone else’s business. The only way to be free is build that power for ourselves.

    Freelancing sounds great to a lot of people, but it is not the life for many developers. Many people are content to do their 40 hours somewhere else, but it’s a trade off: predictability and (relative) security on one hand, or increased responsibility but increased freedom on the other.

    The thing that makes many developers choose to work for someone else is the fear of feast and famine. It’s tough to keep up the hustle, but it does get easier with time. Many places are willing to pay a good salary, and that looks pretty good. But, in the end, you’re still subject to forces outside of your control.

    The thing that I’ve found turns many people away from freelancing isn’t lack of talent or skills, but the inability to deal with people effectively. This to me is the biggest difference not only in working for a team or for yourself, but also between working in client services and on products.

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