Is Working Online as a Freelancer Better than Getting a Real Job?

When you try to compare having a real job and working online, you might think that freelancing is not secure enough and that finding work is difficult. You might also think that you can’t make as much money as working in a cubicle for a big company and water cooler socializing. The thing is that you can work for that big company from the comfort of your home, doing your own hours, 5 hours every day if you wish, or 10 hours in 4 days, you decide.

In this blog post I’m going to talk about two real life examples of freelancers who have worked for me, how they started as beginners and progressed into very skilled freelance workers. I will also share my experience working online for clients and how it has lead to business expanding.

Working online as a freelancer is not necessarily having a dozen clients, but two or three clients you have a deep relationship with that you continuously do an excellent work for.

Is working online as a freelancer better than getting a real job?

Working online with Albert and Joseph

My friend Albert graduated college and was going to work with me full time when my business need to hire a new freelancer was not necessary anymore due to a setback. Albert then persisted in both applying to jobs and checking with me to see what I had available. Then I worked out that he could do part time, 20 hours a week with me, and then I referred my friend, who has got the Wall of Coins, a Bitcoin cash start up, who I worked with to get a half percent ownership of his company.

I referred him because Rob was telling me, “Jerry, I need some help with my marketing, do you want to help?” I said, “No, Rob, I have enough going on, what about my friend Albert?”

Albert did such a good job with Rob that he countered with a 30hour a week offer when Albert got a full-time job offer, that when combined with my offer, now Albert has more work at a much better pay rate than the full-time job he got offered, plus no commute to downtown Seattle, which would take him at least an hour, if not two hours every day from where he lives.

Albert is practicing exactly what I’m saying right here. Albert is doing a great job serving two clients, and that is enough for him to have a full-time job that he works at home on his own terms. That’s an awesome deal. He just has two clients to serve, that to me, is an ideal client setup.

Of course, you could counter say, “Well, Jerry, if you just have two clients, look at Albert for example. What if Rob cuts Albert?”

“What if Rob suddenly says: Albert, I don’t need you at all.”

If Albert goes from having 50 hours of work a week down to 20, I might be able to offer him more hours by then. Albert will have a lot more great experience that he has learned working online with Rob, and then he is more than likely to just be able to build his working relationship with me.

You could also say, “What if both of us cut Albert?” Albert then, has a very valuable set of skills that he can use to find something else. He has got a deep experience working online with two clients on all aspects of our marketing. He would be in great shape then to get a full-time job, or to continue working online. Albert has relationships with two of us and just like having a job, he would expect reasonable notice if he was going to get cut.

Is working online as a freelancer better than getting a real job?

I worked with my friend Joe who now is doing his own business. I worked with Joe since the very beginning of my business, and that left Joe in a position where most of the time he was working online with me and he was only serving one client.

Being cut did happen to Joe.

When I got my business setback, I let Joe know, “Hey, I’ve been working online with you full time now for over a year and a half, and in three months, I’m not going to have enough money to continue paying you without risking putting myself out of business. If I do that, then there is never anymore money for you.”

I gave Joe notice as I said, “Hey, I’ll keep giving you full time, keep helping out, but then in three months, you’re on your own.”

Joe had plenty of time then to start setting things up for his own business. Joe already had most of the money I had paid him saved, so he was in a great position to start his own business.

If Albert worked with me and all of a sudden Rob managed to cut him, and I do the same at the same time, we would probably both give him notice, and he would be in a great position then to do whatever he wanted to with all the experience with us.

Serving clients is just as imperfect as having a job in that sense. You can go to work anywhere, and you still run into the same downsides as serving clients.

Serving clients in many ways is a job, especially if you do it right. You have someone you are accountable to and you have a working relationship with someone. The nice thing is that it can be more of an equals relationship instead of a boss relationship.

Is working online as a freelancer better than getting a real job?

When Albert works with me, I’m not the boss, but a teammate. We are both working online together on my business. When Albert works with Rob, they are both working together on Rob’s business. If the work that Albert does isn’t good, Rob’s business suffers, and then Rob is less likely to be able to keep paying Albert. That the same thing with me, when Albert does good work with me, my business does good, then I’m able to pay Albert at a higher rate.

Joe started out in the $20 an hour range and he worked his way up to at least double that within a year and a half. Joe ended up making great money working online with me because he did great work for the business and when the business took off, Joe got paid more.

It is nice then to serve clients because there is so much more flexibility often than there is at a job. You can get a great raise easily working online with a client when you do a great job, and that may be a lot harder to pull off with an actual job.

My family member just told me that he always asks about what’s going on with me because what I’m doing is interesting, that he has a job in the sense that his salary and everything is kind of boring. He has made the same money, plus or minus five percent raises, within the last three years, so what is there to talk about with his job? He goes to the same place every day, he does the same things every day, he gets paid the same things almost every day. What is exciting about that? The nice thing about clients is that it can be exciting.

You might want to know, “Okay, well, how do I get clients, then? How did Albert end up working online with you and Rob?” The best way to get clients in my opinion is with family and friends. Of course, some people suggest to never work with your family and friends.

I read a business book that said, “Absolutely, a guy has his cousin just do this, and never do that.” I love working with family and friends because I think an ideal work relationship is also based on a good friendship, and preferably the friendship comes first.

It is good that I have been friends with Joseph for eight years. I have some compassion then, when I’m telling Joe, “Look, I realize I’ve been paying you full time for a year and a half and I’m going to have to stop, out of our own best interest. It doesn’t help you.”

Joe likes to use the analogy about tapping the water dry and he doesn’t want to tap the well dry. He has been aware from the beginning that my ability to pay him is conditioned on me having money. If that hadn’t been with a friend, that might have been the end of the relationship, and the same thing with Albert.

Albert started working online with me full time the week I got my business setback. Literally days after Albert started I called him up and said, “Albert, I got a major business setback, which means I immediately don’t have any money to pay you.”

Is working online as a freelancer better than getting a real job?

As Albert was doing the online advertising for me, there was no work for him to do at all, back in June. Albert then, persisted with me.

I have been friends with Albert and Joe for eight years, both of them were right there when I started my business, encouraging me to go forward and start my business. Both of them have helped off and on since the very beginning, and Joseph has helped a ton for the last two years.

Albert now has been helping actively part time for the last three months, 20 hours a week. I think the best place to find clients is among family and friends because you get inside opportunities you wouldn’t get otherwise, and you get love, understanding and compassion, assuming you have healthy relationships with your friends and family, that you wouldn’t likely get at a job.

I haven’t had a job where that element has been there as much. I have had some nice jobs and some good employers, but I think it is nicer to work with family and friends. It is more like you are on a team together instead of one person being the boss. In my opinion, the best working relationships with clients, with anyone, is when you are on a team. Albert gets excited about the sales numbers on my website because the more sales I have, the more I can pay him, the better job security he has, the higher pay rate he has.

We are all a team in this together. Albert knows that if I’m doing well, that will go over and help him out, too.

Things have gone so well with Joe that he is now able to make his own business. Working online with me for two years full time and the whole time since I started my business, Joe has the expertise and tools to make his own business now.

He has got mentored, essentially, along the way for two years, he is ready to do all the things he has seen me doing and put himself out there as the front man.

My experience Freelancing

Yes, most of my clients weren’t friends and family. The clients I have stuck with, though, have become more like friends and family. I went and visited my top client over in South Korea. That was a long trip and I paid for the whole thing. After working online together for years, I wanted to actually go meet the client who gave me the ability to build my business to the next level.

Is working online as a freelancer better than getting a real job?

If it was not for the exceptional work that client gave me, I would not have been able to build my Udemy teaching business. The reason I was able to build my Udemy teaching business is because my top client gave me those focus groups that were such good work. They paid so well that I could go knock a couple of those focus groups out a week, and then I dropped all the other clients I had, except a second client. I refused to take any new clients and I stuck to just teaching on Udemy.

That number one client gave me the chance to teach on Udemy. I wouldn’t be here writing this blog post if that number one client, who got really good opportunities for their business, if they hadn’t passed those on to me in lots of different ways. I wouldn’t have been able to build my business.

With clients, the idea is you are all building your businesses up together. You are all serving and helping each other. You make good working relationships. It is just like a healthy family in that sense. You take care of each other and you look out for each other. You trust, love and accept each other’s mistakes.

With my top client, I made a $8,000 booking error and I didn’t notice this for at least a month. I think the client may have noticed it and waited to see if I would correct it. Within a few weeks of me correcting it, the next year’s contract was provided.

Once I noticed it, it took a lot of integrity and honesty to report that, because it was a $8,000 error in my favor. Admitting that mistake meant the client had eight thousand more dollars that they had already paid for me to spend. That meant I spent eight thousand more dollars on my credit cards when I was already maxed out. I went $8,000 farther in debt myself, so that the client would be even.

In the next year’s contract, that really good opportunity came that I was talking about, to do the focus groups. If I hadn’t admitted my mistake, they wouldn’t have trusted me to go forward and do any more work. With every working relationship, there are times when both parties make some pretty serious mistakes, and that’s why this isn’t a chapter on how to get clients, it is mostly a chapter on the value of clients and keeping clients.

Almost all the good opportunities I have had, are out of keeping clients. It is tough to keep clients, just like it is tough to have family relationships, because you have to get through things going wrong. That’s why I would rather not even start with a client who doesn’t have the budget to spend with me, or who wants to have a bunch of hands on like micromanaging from me, in the form of talking on the phone all the time and having a bunch of emails. I would rather let someone else serve that client.

With every one of my working relationships, there have been points of small mistakes that were annoying and big mistakes. My client that I had the $8,000 bookkeeping error with, ran $10,000 extra up over what they had paid me on the next year’s contract.

I then stopped their ads after they had gone more than $10,000 over. They had some budget issues, it took them several months to send me the extra $10,000. Thankfully, by then, I had made so much money from Udemy within just the year between the $8,000 I was nearly bankrupt and the next year where the client ran $10,000 extra up, I had made so much more money that it wasn’t a big deal that they had run up the $10,000 because I had paid all my credit cards off.

It is amazing how things change back and forth, and that’s what happens when you have good client relationships.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post about working online and that you can make up your mind on what is best, working online or getting a real job.

I invite you to learn more about how I make money online in my book:

100 Ways I Made Money Online

100 Ways I Made Money Online

Available both in Kindle and Paperback format.

You may also enjoy listening to the audio version on Audible

100 Ways I Made Money Online

… or take the course on Skillshare.

100 Ways I Made Money Online