Yet a recent study predicts that 40 percent of America’s workforce will be working as contractors, freelancers, or contingent workers by 2020. Sixty million writers, engineers, legal consultants, artists, and yes, editors, floating from job to job–sometimes up, sometimes down.
It’s usually a choice, right? It’s the choice to be ones own boss, to say no to commuting and cubicles. People want or need the freedom to work from wherever, whenever, and freelancing offers that. Freelance work can sometimes mean going into an office, or it can mean the staffs at the area’s coffee shops know your name, schedule, and drink.
For me, it’s usually the nearest couch, and I find that after working and slouching a few hours, I start to worry that my butt is flattening out to conform to the couch. Not a good thing. Wearing pajamas all day cuts down on laundry, at least.
It’s also not a good thing to be all by my onesie for the whole day. Freelancing as I know it is incredibly isolated. There are companies that sole purpose of existence is to recreate the office environment for freelancers. They have the cool desk spaces, stocked fridges, office-wide March Madness brackets… all for a tidy fee, of course.
Which seems a little silly, right? Swim against the current and be your own boss to ditch the corporate machine only to pay to have the familiar fluorescent lights over your rented desk.
Sometimes the work slows or the project-based job finishes. No one owes a freelancer anything, so when your sails suddenly lose their wind, it’s easy to feel adrift. I dread self-promotion so much, I hardly even keep up my LinkedIn profile, so when I don’t have work, I just don’t work—obviously this is not a good long-term strategy for me.
For those sixty million Americans (and everyone else, since we’re all on this boat together), I hope we can decouple our health insurance from our employment. And I hope someone does something about the tax system so it’s not so absurdly complicated to file as a freelancer.
I love the freedom I have as an editor, but I don’t want to be one of those sixty million. I also don’t want to be in front of a computer all day. I want to be… something else.