Is freelancing/contracting viable? What paths have worked for you?

I'm at my wit's end with my current job, but I can't afford to just quit. The job is having a tremendous negative impact on my mental and physical well-being, and I haven't had a raise in 7 years. I need out - and I need out now... My question is: is freelance/contractor work consistent and viable enough to provide a living income? After the experience I've had, I don't want to work for an employer again, nor do I want to continue to put up with this job until I can find one somewhere else. I also want to have many irons in the fire this time, instead of only one stream of income, because that's how I got trapped in this toxic job and felt I had no way out this time around. So I'd like to try a few different things at the same time. What have you had success with? Freelance writing? Virtual Assistant contracting? Dropshipping? Sites like UpWork? Something else? Thanks for the help - I really need a "Plan B" A.S.A.P.!

iynna's profile thumbnail
Hi Anon!So sorry to hear about your experience :( and yes sounds like it is time to say bye!What are your skills? You could do a number of things at the same time if you wanted to (technical writing, teaching people how to code, tutoring, some of these SAT or GMAT tutors make tons of money per hour, catsitting/dogsitting/babysitting). I think it's viable if you use that as a break (even if it's a 1-year break) to generate some income, while figuring out your next steps - that could be setting up your own LLC and provide services OR considering a new job (only if you feel ready). Lastly, I obviously don't know your financial situation but if you have enough income to sustain yourself for the next 2-3 months without working, I'd really encourage a complete break, maybe travel somewhere (cheaper perhaps?) and stay there for a bit and really unplug. It sounds like that's what you might need for now! Best of luck and I hope you feel better <3
rachelserwetz's profile thumbnail
Hi @Nikia203! If you'd like help to easily, efficiently, effectively network to get these answers and/or explore job search and/or explore the pursuit of contracting, etc, let me know and I can help! BTW, I'm Rachel, a Career Coach (, and I offer a ton of free videos and blogs on my website here - I help with: a) seeking clarity on your best fit/ideal career path or next step/direction, b) debating upskiling opportunities, c) improving your personal branding, d) pursuing a strategic job search or e) advancing along your path and navigating your current workplace and more! Let me know if you'd like a free initial career coaching call -->
iynna's profile thumbnail
Oh and one last thing this coming Saturday, we are hosting an Elpha workshop with @liztalago on Healing from Workplace Trauma - you're more than welcome to join if you want to be part of a group of other Elphas sharing resources and walking through these experiences, you can RSVP here if you want :-) here's the post about it
PollyW's profile thumbnail
Hi there - I've gotten myself to a decent income with freelancing, but it's taken a few years. My top tips:1. Make sure you charge enough. You can't set your rate based on a 40-hour work week. And it will take a while before you figure out how long it actually takes you to complete a flat-rate project, including communication time.2. It will probably take some time to build a client base. Do you have some contacts ready to go in terms of getting work? Most of my work comes from people I know or referrals from previous clients. But I know others who have done well on sites like UpWork, or even Fiverr (again you have to charge enough to overcome the overhead these sites charge). You have to be ready for the possibility that you'll have to do some work for a lower rate than you hope to eventually charge as you build your portfolio and reputation. (if you already have both of those, you are a big step ahead!)3. Having multiple services you offer can help a lot! I do web software development and game dev but also vanilla wordpress sites, as well as writing/editing words, and making/editing videos.4. Conversely, know what you're awesome at and can do fastest and best. My friend who's done the best on Fiverr has a background in writing and editing and has built an amazing reputation there as an editor. With a ton of 5 star reviews you can keep raising your rates rather than racing to the bottom trying to beat other people's rates.Wishing you the best of luck!
I made a decision five years ago that I would forgo being an employee and become a contractor instead. You absolutely need one or two reliable clients to begin with. I recommend that you take on no more than four. Also, be aware that some clients will simply vanish on you, without any warning or communication. Have someone in your back pocket just in case.