Making the decision to go freelance is a very personal choice. Considering the pros and cons of freelancing and being a freelancer can help guide you in your choice.
The growth of freelancing can’t be denied. According Upwork’s “Freelancing in America” survey, 56.7 million Americans freelanced in 2018, up 3.7 million from 2014. That’s more than 1 in 3 people freelancing.
And younger generations are freelancing more than older groups. In the 18-34 age group, 42% freelanced in 2018, compared to 38% in 2014. And the 35-44 age group increased to 35% freelancing in 2018 from 34% in 2014. Older age groups actually showed a slight decline in freelancing.
If you want to join the growing group of freelancers, consider these pros and cons of freelance jobs to help you determine if it’s right for you.
Pros of Freelancing
Freedom of Clients
Freelancers have the unique ability to choose the clients they work with. They also have the ability to work with many clients or only a few select clients. FlexJobs’ survey of over 1,000 freelancers found that networking (56%) and job sites like FlexJobs (47%) are the two most common ways that freelancers find clients.
Control of Workload
Another benefit of freelancing is the ability to choose your workload. You can work as much or as little as you want, and you can choose projects that are meaningful to you. You get to focus on the work you love without the distractions of a full-time job like meetings, office politics, office distractions, etc.
With such freedom over clients and workload, freelancers have the flexibility that most people dream of. If you want to work full-time most of the year and only part-time during the summer, you have the flexibility and control to make that decision.
Freelance jobs offer independence. Not only are you free of the cubicle and 9-to-5 work life, you also have the ability to work alone, and for the most part, where you are most comfortable doing so.
A lot of jobs offer employees variety; however, working a freelance job opens up the ability work on a variety of projects and topics. Working for one company in-house may not provide experience in other industries and career areas. Freelancing is a way to broaden horizons. This variety can help create an environment that is less redundant and boring.
Cons of Freelancing
Uncle Sam gets a share of income whether you are a freelancer or an employee. Freelancers, though, have the responsibility of paying self-employment taxes and making sure to pay them quarterly. However, freelancers also have deductions that employees don’t qualify for. Taxes can be a disadvantage of freelancing, so be sure to carefully consider regulations and laws when setting your rates.
Lack of Benefits
Whereas an employee is (for the most part) eligible for benefits, freelancers rarely receive benefits. Since freelancers are self-employed, they are typically responsible for finding and funding their own insurance.
Finding steady work is a real con of freelancing. Projects can begin and then get shelved. Clients may end a contract early. You may finish a project and find it difficult to find more work. The biggest challenge reported in FlexJobs’ survey of freelance workers was finding clients (65%). Using a job service like FlexJobs can keep you on top of finding your next gig.
When you’re a freelancer, you’re running a business. You’re in charge of business development, getting clients, managing your clients, billing/collecting, and paying taxes. You’ll need to make many decisions—how you’ll track and accept payment (QuickBooks, PayPal, check, etc.); which programs you need to purchase (Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, subscription platforms, etc.); what promotional tools you need (business cards, a website, and even a logo) and more.
Not everyone is prepared and able to handle these tasks. You are the master of your brand, and you need to run your freelance career like a business.
Cash Flow Issues
When weighing the pros and cons of freelancing, one of the more worrisome issues revolves around cash flow. While freelancers can set their own fees to meet their income (and clients’) needs, they are also responsible for collecting payment. Unfortunately, there are some freelancers that have been faced with clients that don’t pay up.
Furthermore, freelancers will want to ask prospective clients about their expectations for the role and whether it’s simply project-based, seasonal, or ongoing.
Another common downfall to being a freelancer is that you will ultimately be isolated from a team or company. Unless you have people close to you to work with, more often than not, you will work alone. (For some though, this is more of a blessing in disguise!)
Ready to Add Freelance Work?
Now that you know the pros and cons of freelancing, be sure to gain an understanding of how to succeed as a freelancer. You should have a great deal of commitment, excellent time-management skills, and the ability to manage a small and personal business. If you are ready to become a freelancer, or are already freelancing, FlexJobs is a great resource for freelance jobs. We partner with thousands of companies to offer jobs in more than 50 career fields.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
This is a version of an article that was originally published on June 11, 2014.
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