Working as a full-time shooter on your own is just one of those rare opportunities out there, especially in a foreign country not native to your own. It's unique, fun and challenging. Most freelance photographers I see maintain day jobs while promoting their photography business on the side, which of course, isn't a bad thing at all if you need to meet your finances for yourself and your family. But being able to run things on your own full-time is truly a rewarding experience if you can get past the first year of seeing what works and what doesn't.
A full-time freelancer (or anyone who wants to be their own boss for that matter) isn't for anyone that's afraid of taking risks and or not willing to try new things and fail over and over again. Most importantly for someone to get over their repeated failures and willing to dish out some sums of money out of their own pockets to invest in tools/people for self-improvement is really a hard thing for most people to do. It takes balls, discipline and persistence. Sure, there are lots of free things out there on the Internets, but the value of when you pay for something isn't just quite the same as getting it for free. Free isn't always a great thing. In most cases you get what you pay for.
A common question I get a lot from people is "how the hell do you earn a living by photography?" "What about your savings, retirement, blah, blah, blah?" Well, actually there are so many different ways to make money in this industry and still be able to secure your savings for retirement than you can imagine. If you can think business and leave out what most photographer do to make money by following the traditional business model of photography work then it's much easier to drift away from the majority of the competition and find your own route. Just like in any business you have to find your niche, positioning, target audience, marketing and cash-flow then you're set up to a certain point until the industry evolves into the next phase of the digital era. Photography is a huge market where nowadays anyone can pick up a camera and get photos for free but there are buyers out in the world that need not just great pictures, but creative thinking, trustworthy and reliable picture makers that produce excellent work.
One last thing I believe most people should be concerned about are those employees of companies that mistakenly do work to automate their own job duties or may eventually end up being replaced by the younger folks that will do the work for cheap and leave you out on the rough streets of unemployment. The great benefit of running your own show is that you can run with your ideas and know how to make money on your own, not just working under the benefit of someone else's thinking.
It's almost a new year so it's never been a better time to try and start something new.