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are freelancers really independent? because it’s the 4th of July

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It’s July 4th, Independence Day here in the U.S. And here I am, tied to my computer, swamped with work while everyone else is at the beach – and wondering if I am, in fact, ‘free’ and independent. I made some lists, and the answer I’ve come up with is this: yes and no. Let me know what you think…


  • I am my own boss
  • I can wear whatever I want to work
  • My dog comes with me to the office
  • I work in a beautiful post and beam shed in an oak and huckleberry forest on Martha’s Vineyard
  • I can choose which projects I want to work on
  • I can choose my clients
  • I make my own schedule
  • I eat popcorn for lunch almost every single day
  • I can spend time with my family when I want to, not when the boss says so
  • I had a meeting on the beach this morning
  • I LOVE my work


  • If I’m not here working, the shop is closed, the cash flow is stopped
  • I don’t have a substitute Julie to stand in or do the heavy lifting
  • I’m addicted to my blog
  • I’m addicted to my Blackberry
  • I’m in love with my MacBook
  • I have no vacation or sick time
  • My dog is the only one in my office with me and he won’t answer my phone and can’t type
  • I never turn away work
  • I’m a workaholic

See what I mean? Yes and No. What do you think? Am I free? Are you?

Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • I’d say you are free…there will always be consequences to the choice. I do freelance writing and find that it is sometimes tempting to think about getting a full-time job with benefits–but then I get the reality check–specific hours, office or job politics, commute time, and not being in charge of my destiny.

    Recently, I ran into an old colleague. I chose self-employment and he chose a job with a municipal agency–he was miserable and frustrated and said, “You are so lucky to be in charge of your own destiny.”

    Since I was pondering the whole job vs freelance issue I took it as a universal nudge to keep doing what I am doing.

    Happy 4th of July!

  • --Deb says:

    I came here from Copyblogger and have been toying with the idea of trying to go freelance, though I’m not quite ready to take the plunge yet. I had to stop and leave a comment though, when you mentioned Martha’s Vineyard. We joke that our house in NJ is “Martha’s Vineyard South,” my mother has a blog devoted to MV (, and my dog’s name is Chappy. So, I have to say, the thought of freelancing on MV? Definitely tempting!

    Oh, and I’m devastated to hear about the Bunch of Grapes….

  • Ryan Healy says:

    I agree with most everything in your “Yes” list, although I don’t eat popcorn for lunch.

    The “No” list is similar to what mine would be.

    But… I don’t have a Blackberry and refuse to get one. I won’t get an iPhone or anything like it. My cell phone stays far away from me most days.

    And I do turn work away. It’s not always easy, but it’s necessary. Some clients just aren’t a good fit with my services, my personality, and/or my income requirements.

    And while I don’t have a substitute Ryan, I do have some people I can call on to do things for me. Which is really nice.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article! :-)

  • I dunno…sounds pretty free to me. I really love the freelance writing life!

  • Paul Kennedy says:

    You are not free. It’s a dog’s life. Welcome to the club, sucker. But it beats working for a boss. Which is less free. You’ve chosen the best of two bad choices.

  • Dhane Diesil says:

    Without a doubt, this is definitely true! What a great post.

  • So the question is whether the YES list outweighs the NO list. Having been self-employed for many years, for me it does.

    There may not be a boss, but a freelancer still has customers or clients – people who pay for the freelancer’s services – one way or another. These people have needs and schedules of their own, so one’s time is not entirely one’s own, but the work schedule can usually be arranged to fit the life, rather than forcing the life into a 9 to 5 routine.

    I, too, spent about 12 hours at the computer today, on the Fourth of July, while yes, everyone else was out having fun. But in the long run through the years, the freedom has been worth the commitment.

  • Sunny Lam says:


    No one said freelancing was any easier than any other job (grins).

    I can definitely relate with:


    I am my own boss
    I can wear whatever I want to work
    I can choose which projects I want to work on
    I can choose my clients
    I make my own schedule
    I LOVE my work


    If I’m not here working, the shop is closed, the cash flow is stopped
    I’m addicted to my blog
    I’m addicted to my Blackberry
    I’m in love with my MacBook
    I have no vacation or sick time
    I never turn away work
    I’m a workaholic

    Yes, I worked even Canada Day. (oh so sad)

    Fair winds,
    Sunny Lam

    Ffenyx Rising

    Member of Green Enterprise Toronto

  • Jaq says:

    Yes. Freelancing definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. That’s why it’s always important for us to have a passion for our careers because that’s going to be our reason for sticking with it when the disadvantages start creeping in.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks for featuring my post, Brian. I love your blog, and I’m honored!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Diana – Thanks for stopping by…freelancing is definitely hardwork, but I love it. I have never been so impassioned by work in my life – there is certainly something to the fact that I own it.
    Good luck in your choice – and I concur, listen to those universe nudges!!!!
    Best, Julie

  • Julie Roads says:

    HI Deb! I know – the Bunch of Grapes fire yesterday is a total tragedy – and at the worst time ever. The Vineyard is the best – we live in West Tisbury in a wonderful community and it’s a dream. Funniest thing, everyone said, “Lucky you, you can work from anywhere,” because they think there is no business here…but there is tons – and I love working for islanders…
    I can’t wait to read your mom’s blog – and tell her to check out and (and the blog).
    Good luck,

  • Julie Roads says:

    Ryan! No popcorn, Blackberry or attached cell phone! Wow, this is impressive…though I have to say you’re really missing something with the popcorn. After reading everyone’s comments, I’m leaning towards YES – I love my work and I love my life…and it just seems to keep getting better.
    Good to hear from you,

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Bridget, I hear you – I totally love my life, whether I’m tied down and can’t let go of my Blackberry or not.
    Thanks for joining the conversation,

  • Julie Roads says:

    Oh Paul! That’s not such a happy comment! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be honest…
    Best to you,

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks, Dhane. I had a blast writing it. It’s always good to take a little inventory…whine a bit and then smile big.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Michael – it’s true. My clients are my bosses. But what I love is that when one is ‘causing me stress’ – I know that it’s only temporary…not ruling my day and not forever.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Sunny! This is the best job I’ve ever had…I love that it’s different every day. Glad so many can relate.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Totally Jaq…I’ve never loved a job more and I’ve never worked harder – certainly not a coincidence.

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