Are you one of nearly 9 million self-employed Americans? Are you a freelancer and find your own clients? Or do you have a full or part-time job to pay the bills, and a gig you love on the side? Sara Horowitz is the founder of the Freelancers Union, which has 170,000 members nationwide, from writers to web designers to nannies. She joins us to discuss her new book, “The Freelancer’s Bible,” the pros and cons of life as an independent worker and tips for success in today’s economy.

Sara Horowitz, founder and executive director of the Freelancers Union and author of "The Freelancer's Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams On Your Terms"
Chris Colin, freelance writer with the San Francisco Writer's Grotto, author of "What Really Happened to the Class of of '93?" and a frequent contributor to The New York Times
Mona Brooks, freelance photographer
Bruce Chrisp, freelance trombonist and freelance musician since 1989; he appeared in the 2009 documentary "Freeway Philharmonic," which tracked the lives of seven Bay Area classical musicians

  • Guest

    The corporate world is crammed with mediocrity and fraught with soul-sucking petty politics, which is exactly why corporations need to rig the competition using lobbyists, bailouts, fraud and outsourcing. It is better to be independent and keep the myriad corporate bozos at arm’s length.

  • Mac Senour

    “MIND THE GAP”, I hear that when I go to London and ride their tube. But it also come sto mind as a freelancer. I spent too much of my time minding the gap between contracts. Getting the contract isn’t that hard, but getting the contract after that one to line up so there’s a small or no gap between them isn’t so easy.

  • purple bunny

    Contracting these days seems more like underemployment. I chose to be freelance years ago, so I could parent the way I wanted to but since, day and hourly rates have plummeted, my health insurance costs soared and I feel like I’m cobbling together an ever diminishing living and YET I love the work I do (writing / producing and teaching yoga) and I can go on class trips and not be harried and un-present with my kids, grocery shop and cook nourishing foods –it’s a struggle though and it’s not like F/T jobs are that prevalent… will this all change in 2014 when Obamacare come into play more??

  • Kathleen31

    Dave, the caller didn’t say you have to do marketing, he said you have to ENJOY marketing yourself. Very, very different!!

  • eriksf

    For me the greatest benefit of freelancing is the free time. The feast or famine cycle is part of it for every freelancer I know. Very few are always busy or make as much money as they did having corporate jobs. If you can manage your money effectively (crucial) and are able to relax (equally crucial) and enjoy that free time it is a wonderful way to make a living.

  • One of the barriers to entry people considering freelance work in the USA face is the way healthcare is skewed toward full-time employment. Finding affordable healthcare is a challenge for the self-employed.

    • Austin Hill Shaw

      Thank you, Ian! I couldn’t agree more. The natural innovation and creativity of individuals in the United States is sometimes sacrificed as they seek out the seeming safety net offered by larger companies.

  • Dannyboy63

    Writing this from home- but with handcuffs of full-time W2 employment- and longing to freelance. Have done it before- was relatively successful, but could not get health insurance- and that’s what drove me back to working for one employer. Any advice for a 50 year old with a health pre-existing condition that requires health coverage- but really wants to freelance?

  • marte48

    This program seems rather naive. There is no such thing as “permanent” employment anymore, and has not been for many years. ALL employment in CA is on an “at will” basis, which, if you all read your contracts, means that the employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. They do not have to give you a reason, or the real reason, and they do not have to give you any advance notice. They claim that the rule goes both ways, but how can that be? No one would give up a paycheck for “no reason at all.” ALL employment is “fulltime” – both permanent and contract workers work 40 hours per week, and if they ask for “part-time” work, it means that they do not want to pay you for 40 hours per week – they want you to be “on call” – ready to serve their needs when it is convenient for them. “Working from home” means that they feel that you are already part time, and want you to subtract your bathroom breaks from the time worked.

    If you consider yourself “freelance” you are competing not only with all the other freelancers on the planet, but also with every small, medium and large business on the planet. If you are an IT freelancer, you are competing with ever more automated software systems that are meant to replace your labor. And do not forget – corporations only want you from age 30 to 45. After that, good luck.

  • disqus_c2axonC4qH

    Danny –

    w2 employees are eligible for COBRA …unfortunately, many w2s make the mistake of getting the “max” health care from their employer, only to discover it’s quite expensive on COBRA.
    If you did quit and took COBRA, your COBRA should extend out as far as when ObamaCare kicks in.

  • Guest

    I moved to San Francisco in 1987 to work in the travel industry, doing anything & everything from airport meet & greet, city tours, information desks, up to international travel with educational groups. I’ve been split about 50/50 between full-time and freelance, and I’ve been able to apply skills from one status to benefit the other. Recently, a friend asked me to supply information about/referrals to some of my employers because she’d love to do the same thing and has a lot of the skills needed. Travel is considered a “glamour” field with a lot of people who will work virtually for free just to get the plane ticket. I can sell my experience to the companies that employ me…but it’s much harder to tell someone I know who’s trying to get into the business that I don’t want any more competition than there already is!

  • Dannyboy63

    Does it make sense to find a p/t job somewhere with health coverage- maybe a coffeeshop- to cover that base when freelancing? Generally, what’s minimum number of hours one needs to work in order to obtain decent health coverage??

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