The Joy (And Security) Of Self-Employment

By Meg Bouvier

I stay current on NIH happenings and I’d be delighted to keep you informed.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and like many people I find myself taking stock of the past year. Among other things, I am mulling over my freelance career, having just read a terrific blog post about a freelancer’s take on salaried employment (

A few years ago, when I was home with children and trying really hard not to work, projects came in through writer friends—one person had overcommitted, so could I help out with this deadline? Another was offered a full-time job so could I take on a few of her freelance clients? Still another was in over his head on an engineering project so could I tackle the science content?

Eventually, after this supposed period of non-work, I began seeking out more steady freelance work while I looked for “something permanent.” I fretted about the economy and the lack of opportunities living in a rural area (although one can write from anywhere, I find that companies seem reluctant to hire a full-time, salaried writer who telecommutes exclusively without first having the writer work on-site for a while.) So I continued to take freelance work while I looked around, yearning for the security enjoyed by my friends with “real jobs”.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point I got so busy with my temporary freelance gig that I forgot about looking for a “real job.” This year I was invited to apply for not one, but two different full-time writer positions. I was delighted! Yet, the more I thought about it, the less sense it made for me. My business had grown to the point where I no longer worried about finding the next job. In fact, I am looking for writers to hire. I have a personal assistant who keeps my life running smoothly.  I have enough money in the bank that I no longer worry about clients who take forever to pay (names omitted to protect the guilty.) My work schedule and my life have evolved into a model of efficiency, with no wasted time or effort. And, most importantly, I LOVE what I do, not just writing but running the business as well.

I respectfully declined to apply for either position. I will keep my business, thanks, and all the comfort and security it affords: An excellent income, a nimble business model that allows me to work with (or cease to work with) any colleague or client I choose or to pursue any type of work on a moment’s notice; the power to choose the projects that I find interesting, gratifying, and meaningful; the ability to maximize my efficiency so that I can shoe-horn everything worthwhile into my extremely busy schedule; and TRUE job security, meaning that the loss of a single client in my diverse work portfolio will never spell the demise of my business nor my financial security.

Would I ever take another full-time salaried position? Absolutely, if it were the right position. I truly loved my staff writing job at NIH. But for now, I will happily and gratefully run my own business.

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