So what’s self-employment really like?

21 04 2009

I was thinking about this awhile back, when a friend exclaimed, “You’re SOOOO lucky! I would love to be self-employed!”

I have a lot of other things to get done today, so I will try to at least keep this succinct. (I am genetically unable to keep things short, a trait that I inherited from my grandfather.)

The Pros:

1. I get to do office stuff in my jammies one or two days a week.

2. I have great biceps from working with glass. And anytime I move my studio (which is NOT often, thank goodness!) I start looking like an Olympian.

3. Flexible hours. Although the reality is that I’m often up until 2 or 3 in the morning finishing what didn’t get done during the day because the dog/cat/car had a vet/oil change/inspection appointment that soaked up a lot of my day.

4. No uniform. I get to wear whatever I want to work. Often, it’s clothing from Salvation Army because I work with a medium that is Extremely Hard on clothing.

5. I get to write off some very cool tools because my job actually requires them. (Hey, who doesn’t want to own a 25 gallon air compressor??)

6. It’s mine, and I built it from the ground up.

The Cons

1. It’s mine, and at the end of the day, if somebody’s unhappy with my work, my company, my parking job, whatever, I’m ultimately responsible.

2. You drown in details. You’re the person responsible for making all the return phone calls, catching up on all the billing, buying the replacement whatever, the budget, and the fabrication of product.

3. The hours are flexible, but it’s a rare week that is 40 hours or less. Most weeks are 50-60 hours, and during my busy season, the average week is between 80 and 100 hours. My record week (I kid you not) was in the neighborhood of 120 hours.

4. NO sick days. NO holiday pay. If you come down with the flu, your studio simply stands empty for however many days you’re bringing up breakfast. A lot of times too, family and friends will ask, “Why can’t you come visit for Christmas?” or “Why can’t you help me move on Tuesday?” or “You’re self-employed… aren’t your hours flexible??”

5. If you’re not at least semi-organized, you don’t get work done. (See? I’m doing it right now by typing on here instead of photographing things to list in my online store!)

6. Feast or famine living. Paying jobs (at least for this self-employed artist) tend to be either non-existent or copious. Which means that money coming in is either a trickle or a river, with nothing in between. If I’m not good with budgeting my business’s money, I tend to eat a LOT of beans and spaghetti in the off season.

Still thinking of going out on your own? I wish you the best of luck, stamina, and drive that the universe can offer you. You’ll need all three of those in large quantities.

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4 responses

25 04 2009
lissa

woo hoo!!! i’m your first commentor. 🙂

great to see you blogging.

25 06 2009
Constance

Your advise is both characteristic of you and precise. The self employed artist sounds romantic and free (it is) and yet that beguiles of the true hard work and determination it takes. Congratulations on such beautiful work and perseverance. You are an inspiration.

24 07 2009
Carolyn

yup – that about sums it up! It’s a real hard slog somedays but you’re doing ok from where I’m sitting 🙂

28 10 2009
darla bair

You are so good at what you do! Making, managing and selling glass AND writing. OK, so I’m biased. I’m your mom. I am in the Arts as well, and think it’s utterly amazing that both my children are making a living doing what they love in the Arts. An inspiration, Glass Lassie? Yes, to the scores of passionate, artistic young people who are being led into technology because ‘that’s where the money is.’ And what about their hearts…? You had, and continue to have, the courage to put actions behind the cliches such as ‘Do what makes you happy’. Go Glass Girl! (Glad you’re warm again)

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