As online freelancing becomes more mainstream, many people are discovering the flexibility and income it can provide. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges.
Furthermore, freelancing fits in well with certain people’s goals, while others find that working from home on their own isn’t for them.
If you want to start freelancing, you’re not alone, of course. COVID 19 is giving rise to even more freelancing opportunities, and that trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Once people discover the unique lifestyle and financial differences of a freelance career and a traditional 9 to 5, it’s hard to go back.
You might want to consider jumping into this remote style of work sooner rather than later. The more freelancers that join the market, the more competition you will have.
Still, you don’t want to make a rash decision. Be sure to carefully consider the below aspects of this kind of work to see if it aligns with your needs.
Freelancing: 5 Major Advantages And Disadvantages To Becoming A Freelancer
- The 5 Advantages Of Being A Freelancer
- The 5 Disadvantages Of Being A Freelancer
The 5 Advantages Of Being A Freelancer
1. Flexibility and Freedom
Most 9-5 workers get up in the early morning, get dressed, and head off to fight traffic or wrestle for a spot on public transportation. This takes time, energy, and hassle. Not to mention that once you’re at work, you’re stuck there for 8 hours straight.
What if you have a last-minute appointment with a medical specialist? Or your child has a rehearsal in the middle of the day that you’d love to sit in on? In the traditional corporate world, you have a limited number of hours or days that you can request off for these non-work-related endeavors.
That’s why flexibility or the freedom to set your own hours and work from almost anywhere is one of the most significant advantages of being a freelancer. You can control your time and your location. You don’t need “permission” to do the things that are most important to you, whether that’s financial, personal, familial, health-related, or anything else.
And there’s no need for an office commute. Just by firing up your laptop—and in some cases just your phone—you can provide a wide variety of services online. A study found that, on average, people lose nearly 9 days a year commuting to work. That’s a lot of time you could better spend doing something else.
The freedom to be more creative is another boost that many consider a critical difference between online freelancing and a traditional job.
Working in large teams can also feel unproductive. One person needs to be responsible for each part of the project or company mission. If other employees are not as productive or as efficient as you, it could make you frustrated.
Having more freedom means you can make more of your time. You might be able to get two or three times more in on a work day, if you have a freelancing business. It depends on your ability to stay focused without the social work environment.
Think about it this way: If your time is chained to the productivity of others (and they’re not living up to their end of the bargain), that means that your potential income or career advancement is limited.
We live on an economic planet. Your ability to control how much income you generate is vital to achieving your dreams, which require either more money or more free time. Freelancing can provide both of those for you, whereas office jobs are lacking in that regard.
People want to be appreciated and will even go elsewhere if they feel like their talents are being wasted or unappreciated. This is understandable because if your talents aren’t being put to use, it can be a challenge to stay motivated.
Many businesses in the corporate world just aren’t designed to give you the appreciation you deserve. These organizations can turn into machines that view employees as “human capital” to simply add to the bottom line.
Sometimes making the switch to freelancing is about letting yourself take pride in your work, no matter what you choose. And if you can provide something that really adds value to other people, you can know that your skills and experience will be appreciated.
Integrity can be defined by your commitment to your own values and principles. When you do something or support something that doesn’t align with your values, you get that sinking feeling in your gut.
Now, there are great companies with great values out there, of course. But it becomes complicated the larger an organization grows. There are likely to be one or more people or initiatives that don’t resonate with how you like to conduct yourself or serve other people in a business sense.
The problem is, there isn’t much you can do if you’re not the owner or executive of the company. You have to live with the knowledge that you are in some way violating your own values in that case.
Being a freelancer, however, is different. You get to choose exactly how you are going to conduct yourself. You will have the confidence of knowing that everything your freelancing business does is a direct offshoot of your best self.
That way, you can profitably serve your market and feel good about yourself at the end of the day.
5. Cultural Fit
You might not have liked the work culture at your last job, or you don’t think you would. The 9 to 5 mentality can feel limiting. You can enjoy setting up your freelancing workspace exactly the way you like it. You know how you work best. And if you don’t, freelancing at the very least lets you explore that.
With a freelancing career, you can make your own culture. While you have clients, you are also your own boss. You can hang posters, listen to music, or even collaborate with the people you want.
There really isn’t anything you can’t do with freelancing, unlike with a traditional office job. And if you do like the social nature of the office, then challenge yourself to grow your business enough to hire more people and build a thriving company culture from within based on what you love.
The 5 Disadvantages Of Being A Freelancer
1. Financial Drawbacks
There are definitely some potential challenges to the life of a freelancer. You’ll either need to generate enough revenue to pay for your own insurance and other benefits—typically provided by a company—or do without them.
This reduced level of security is something that you should consider. While freelancing can ultimately put more money in your pocket, your income can be inconsistent until you hit your stride.
Consider maintaining your day job or other income sources until freelancing gets to a point where it replaces your other income and meets your expenses. Then, when your income is consistently paying the bills, you can make the switch to go full time.
Before you decide freelancing is the way to go, you need to research your market to determine whether you’ll be able to sustain your business.
A good reason to get into freelancing is if demand has already been proven for your product or service. Skills that are in high-demand will increase the potential income you generate overall. Of course, small niche services can generate significant profits as well.
While for some this might be a blessing, isolation can quickly take a toll on your productivity and creativity. If you’re an extrovert that thrives in a bustling office setting, working all alone day in and day out might not be the best long-term solution.
And it’s not just about being physically isolated from people; you also have no one to vent to about your work or to exchange ideas with. Gradually, your scope of interests may narrow down, too, if you don’t make an effort to explore new things or ideas.
Even if it’s not work-related, the so-called water-cooler chat in a business setting is a great way to continuously learn more about the world and the people around you.
You can try to work from a co-working space or a cafe every so often. Join online forums and groups for freelancers to exchange thoughts and hear some new perspectives. Make networking a habit (both offline and online). You never know what new opportunities this might create, professional or personal.
There will be plenty of obstacles for you as a freelancer. Understanding that most problems can be overcome is a necessary mindset. One way to prepare to overcome obstacles better is to be clear about what your end goal is.
Focusing on your goals while solving challenges will help ensure you take the right action. Freelancing involves making mistakes, but as long as you learn from them and remain persistent, then you can grow from them and come back stronger.
Unless you are currently the sole owner of a private business, then you answer to other people. Sure, you have a level of individual accountability. Still, there are others tasked with ensuring the success of the business, and if they fail, it doesn’t fall back on you.
But going out on your own is a different challenge altogether.
Staying accountable can be a challenge once you’ve tasted the freedom of not having someone constantly looking over your shoulder. But it is all the more important because whatever you do (or don’t) accomplish directly affects you and your business.
Whether or not freelancing is right for you will depend on your willingness to accept responsibility for everything in your freelancing business. At the end of the day, you have to ensure that everything gets done, even if it’s not your area of expertise. And that’s something that not everyone is prepared for at first.
You will want to become familiar with better ways to organize your day and productivity hacks for working on your own. In a way, you are playing a game against your own psychology.
And by using the right tricks and tools, you can set up the game in advance so that you have a better chance of “winning.”
Freelancing is growing fast, and for a good reason. You can end up having more time and freedom, more income, and more personal happiness. Ultimately, it is more than a career decision—it’s a lifestyle change.
Deciding whether or not to freelance is a question that only you can answer. Freelancing comes with many benefits. However, there are also common pitfalls to avoid when making financial and career decisions.
By considering the key points from the post above, you can be more informed in your decision about whether freelancing is right for you. Then, you can make a plan to gradually make your freelance business your full-time source of income and freedom so you can spend more of your time doing what you love.
Are you a full time freelancer? Do you have tips for someone starting out?
Or maybe you consider becoming a freelancer? If so, what are your fears or worries of taking on such a career shift?
Contributor: Lisa Michaels