Which is better: the security of a 9-to-5 or the freedom of being your own boss? The answer depends on the individual, of course, but there are plenty of things to consider when deciding if freelancing is right for you. Freelancing can be as satisfying as it is stressful, as exciting as it is terrifying. The greatest advantages and most difficult disadvantages are inescapably linked. Here are the pros and cons of freelancing that you should take into account when deciding to make the leap.
Pros: Flexibility & Mobility
The biggest plus of freelancing is the flexibility. You set your own hours and choose your own projects. You can work from your couch in your PJ’s with a bowl of cereal, and no one can tell you you’re being unprofessional. What’s not the love about that?
If all you need is an internet connection to get the job done, you have limitless possibilities when choosing an “office” each day. Freelancing can be a life saver for those with significant others who travel constantly for work, or for parents who need to pick their kids up from school before a typical work day ends. Having the ability to work from basically anywhere and set your own schedule is very attractive, especially if you feel stuck in a rut in your 9-to-5.
Cons: Lack of Security & Inconsistent Income
On the other hand, without an employer to lay down the rules, there is also no one to lay out the benefits. There is no such thing as a paid vacation or sick day when you freelance. No health insurance is provided. A freelance union could be an option for those who seek a bit more stability, but there are inevitably fees tied into the benefits.
In addition, the freedom to choose projects necessitates the search for them. You have to seek out potential clients, and then you have to convince them that you are worth the money they’ll spend. When interviewing for a full-time job, your search ends when you are hired. In freelance, your search continues over and over for each new finite source of revenue. Without the guarantee of a set paycheck month to month, you are left fending for yourself financially. Hands down, the biggest trick to freelancing is undoubtedlythe money.
Pros OR Cons:Depending on Who You Are
Then there are so many facets of freelancing that can be good or bad, depending on your individual strengths, passions, and fears.
Being Your Own Boss
Freelancing means not having to answer to anyone but yourself. That means raking in 100% of the profits, but it also means owing 100% of the cost. You own your successes and have no one to blame but yourself for your failures.
Another difficulty of being your own boss is having to learn the ins and outs of running a business. You may have an incredible talent and passion for the work you do, but you also have to be responsible for negotiating contracts, managing invoices, and filing self-employment tax returns. Not having anyone to answer to also means not having anyone to run things for you.
No socializing at the water cooler when you’re a company of one. This can be very appealing to those who like to work solo, but a huge con for those who crave connection with other people. Another pro or con, depending on how you work, is the lack of accountability of working alone.Staying focused and avoiding distraction are familiar plights of the freelancer.
An introverted self-starter might find freelancing to be a breeze, but there are still options for those who struggle with working from home. One way to combat the loneliness and laziness of a freelancer’s workday is to join a shared office space.
There is no way to get freelance work without putting in a lot of time and energy networking. Clients won’t come to you, especially if you’re just starting out. You’ll get paid for the projects you take on, but you’ll need to network for free to bring in those projects. This can be daunting, or it can be energizing. It depends on how comfortable you feel putting yourself out there and making connections.
New Challenges Every Day
Freelancing requires creativity and curiosity. If structure and ritual appeal to you, a 9-to-5 might be a more comfortable way to spend your days. If the idea of never-ending changes and challenges excites you, you’ll thrive as a freelancer. Learning new skills to solve new problems, finding new clients, and juggling varied projects are all par for the course.
Freelancing and working a “steady job” are both viable options in today’s digital world. Either path can be incredibly frustrating and rewarding. It all comes down to whether or not the risk is worth the gain.
[Featured Image Courtesy of David Martyn Hunt]
[Second Image Courtesy of Instant Vantage]
[Third Image Courtesy of Sebastiaan ter Burg]