RE: wisdom from freelancers

Subject: RE: wisdom from freelancers
From: "Lisa Skillern" <lisaskil -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2008 12:45:50 -0700

I can relate to your dilemma and hope that this is helpful.

In 2006, I inadvertently became a freelancer after 10 years of solid
employment. The powers that be at my on-the-verge of failing start-up asked
whether I'd consider contracting for them and I said OK, thinking I could do
it on the side with another job. Another former colleague asked if I'd
consider working on the side, and another--and before I knew it, I was a
"consultant." (Accounting doesn't seem to mind cutting checks for higher
rates when you're a consultant.)

I can't say it hasn't been without risk: I once went five months without
working very much. I thought the benefits would never outweigh the prospect
of waking up one morning and realizing that I didn't have a job, but they
have. I've enjoyed being my own boss and deciding what I will and won't do
for money. There are no more office politics--because I'm usually not around
long enough (or not on site enough) to be involved. The hiring manager
values my opinion because he or she knows exactly what it's costing them to
get it, and that support is replicated throughout the contact chain because
people need to be efficient with my time and thus their money. I've had lots
of repeat business and I enjoy going back to catch up with people (and
products) after an absence.

There are some practical matters I have to manage on my own, but if you have
a good accountant it's not that bad. You'll learn to save a little more than
you might have if you were solidly employed, just in case that job lull
hits. The plus side of that is that you can take a day off (or a whole
vacation) whenever you want or can afford to do so.

Freelancing isn't for everyone--but don't be afraid to take the plunge. I'm
on the verge of accepting a full-time position and I never thought I'd say
this, but I really find myself questioning whether it's the right move for
me. Three years ago, I never would've thought that was possible.

Good luck!

-----Original Message-----

I welcome any insights on a decision I have to make very soon.

My question: In this economy, facing a possible need to be completely
self-sufficient, would you choose career-boosting, temporary Job A now? Or
would you wait and hope to get an offer from boring, steady secure Job B?

Details here:

Job A: 1 year contract gig, expecting an offer this week, maybe tomorrow. I
would start ASAP. It's an arm of a very large, successful company starting
an operation locally. Lots of Project Management type responsibilities and
exposure to new tools in the course of working on the IT docs, potential for
long hours on occasion. The commute is 20 minutes longer than I'd like, all
highway driving to a rather isolated spot.
Due to the distance, they're willing to let me work from home after the
initial ramp-up at least 2 days a week and I won't be expected to drive in
terrible weather. The hourly rate will result in a good raise in pay
compared to my salary prior to being laid off.

Job B: Interviewing Thursday for a permanent job with an arm of the federal
government. I'm pretty confident I'll get an offer, but it's early yet.
It's typical SW TW with some user support thrown in. The commute is only
30 minutes, but I suspect I won't get any work-at-home arrangement for bad
The starting salary is pretty close to what I had made before and it tops
out at what I'd make immediately in Job A. I've heard federal employees get
lots of holidays.

There is a personal factor that imposes stresses.
Going through a REALLY rough patch in marriage, plan to go to counseling,
could end up splitting ARGH! I basically have no emotional support at home
and have all responsibilities for taking care of the household (whine whine,
poor me) All healthcare and other benefits come from spouse's employer.

O wise and experienced whirlers, is there anything else I need to consider
to help me make a good decision? What questions do I need to ask of the

thank you!


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