The Key To Building A Freelance Business While Living With A Chronic Illness

For many, living with a chronic illness can mean stepping out of (or never entering) the wider working world. Whether you’ve lived with a chronic illness your whole life or recently developed one, it becomes painfully obvious how almost every employment sector is set up for able-bodied people.

But with the rise of gig culture and greater freelancing opportunities, this no longer has to be the case. Here are the key points to consider when establishing a freelance business while living with a chronic illness.

1. Decide on your business

Will your business leverage skills you already have or be based on a passion? Deciding this obviously helps you establish your business niche. Some of the best freelance areas include writing, graphic design, web design, and music. If you don’t feel you have the necessary skills, it’s really easy to take online courses.

2. Network

Networking is one of the best tools in a freelancer’s arsenal, but takes time to establish. There’s no reason why it can’t all be done online, particularly with sites like LinkedIn. After working with clients you like, connect with them on social media to stay in contact. This will keep you in their mind for future work.

3. Use an established site to build your portfolio

Carving out a niche as a freelancer can be a challenge, particularly if you don’t have a portfolio to call upon. Luckily, sites like Fiverr, Upwork and so on allow you to do this. Spend some time researching which would best suit your niche.

4. Decide how open you want to be about your illness

It’s entirely up to you how open you are about your condition. After all, you’re your own boss. If you want to tell clients, be open about it from the beginning. But if you don’t think it’ll impact your work then there’s no need to tell them. If you think you’re going to experience burn-out or fatigue on a larger project, manage the client’s expectations in advance.

5. Leverage the power of the internet

Physical barriers can often stop people with chronic illnesses from entering the working world. Whether it’s long working days, lots of travel, or something else, getting employment can be next to impossible.

Well this doesn’t need to be the case with freelancing. It’s entirely possible to build up a successful business online without ever leaving your house. You can do meetings online, share files, update clients, pitch and interview, anything you need. If it involves work, there’s a software out there for it. In short, leverage the power of the internet to work for you.


Building a successful freelance business requires patience and commitment, but the key benefit is that you can build your own schedule around what works best for you. The last few years have seen a boom in freelance businesses, so why not ride the wave to your advantage? If you’d like some more first-hand information, check out this interview with two freelancers living with chronic illnesses, Katherine Cory and Rachel Shillcock.