Pros & cons of freelancing: Unlimited earning potential

So far in my “Pros & Cons of Freelancing” column, I have covered the joys and challenges of being your own boss and of managing your own time.

This third installment will address another core topic of full-time freelance life: Money.

Much discussion of money in freelancing refers to people’s inability to make enough of it or to the question of determining how much of it to charge.

Both of those questions arise from the same unique element of freelancing: The rates you make — and the potential income you can make — are not set.

Just as there is no boss to tell you how many days working in your pajamas is enough already, there’s no boss to dictate how much — or little — you’ll make as a freelancer.

It’s a wide open question, and the answer depends on many factors including your own organization, efficiency, skills, and hustle, as well as what niche you cover, who’s in your network, and what type of clients you target, among other things.

The fact that your approach and actions translate directly into earnings is one thing that makes freelancing both exciting and intimidating. Freelancers’ virtually unlimited earning potential can be both a pro and a con of this career path.

Pro: Unlimited earning potential

Money money money! Freelancing can be extremely lucrative. There are plenty of full-time freelancers out there making six figures, with some busting into $200K+, $300K+, and … who knows?

I know of one freelance writer who had no experience freelancing when she turned to it as a way to try to cover some emergency medical bills. Within a few months of starting, she found herself earning $10,000 in a single 30-day period. What?!

The potential to make a ton is, to put it extremely mildly, a “pro” of freelancing.

Con: Unlimited earning potential

It may surprise you to hear, then, that this same issue can be placed in the “con” column. The reason is that if there’s no limit to how much you can make, there is no limit to how much you might work.

It is extremely hard to say no and draw limits in your freelance work when there is opportunity and potential earnings around every corner. Part of the reason it is difficult to manage your own time in this career is because it is up to you to know how much you can do in any given time period. And the answer to this isn’t always obvious, even for experienced freelancers.

It can be easy to think to yourself “If I just say yes to this assignment, I’ll be able to make more this month than ever before!” But then you look at your schedule and see that that new assignment will require you to work every evening for a week, or to cancel plans with friends, or to ask your spouse to take on chores that are your responsibility.

But saying “no” is like leaving money on the table — how tempting to always say yes!

Part of your learning and professional development as a freelancer is figuring out how much work you can realistically do without overburdening yourself — and that can mean leaning to set a limit on that seemingly unlimited earning potential.

Check out these other posts in the “Pros & Cons” series:

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