A person’s decision on how they’ll earn a living is one of the most important ones they’ll ever make. It’s also one of the most personal, so it’s essential to make your decisions based on what’s truly right for you.
If you’ve always dreamed of working for yourself and carving out your own professional future, then a new freelancing career might be the option you’ve been looking for.
However, as with any important career decision, it’s essential to be fully informed first. Here are some key pros and cons of freelancing to help you choose.
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1. PRO: No More Mandatory 9-5
Although many people do fine working a standard 9-5 job complete with traditional office space, coworkers, and all the rest, some folks are different.
They long instead for the freedom to make their own rules, create their own work-life and earn a living on their own terms.
Freelancers enjoy an incredible degree of choice regarding what they do and how they do it. And yes, they can set their own schedules according to whatever suits them best. A freelancer can also easily change their hours, take personal days, and more.
2. CON: Less Job Security
Of course, the downside to walking away from the traditional world of 9-5 work is you no longer enjoy the job security it offers.
Although anyone can be fired or let go due to downsizing, most people who do well at their traditional place of business don’t have much to worry about. There’s always a steady stream of work to do, as well.
On the other hand, going the freelance route definitely means more freedom. But you will be responsible for finding your own clients, making sure you’re paid on time and ensuring you have enough income to keep the lights on.
3. PRO: You’re in Charge
At this point, one in every three people freelances on at least a part-time basis. Ask any one of them what their biggest reason is for doing what they do, and many will say they absolutely love being their own boss. Having complete autonomy regarding how you run your professional life is incredible.
Freelancing also gives you the freedom to write your own ticket in life. You can relocate anywhere you wish, take a vacation when needed, and create a work-life balance that works for you and your loved ones.
The only person you ever need to answer to in this regard is yourself.
4. CON: Working in Isolation
Regarding the pros and cons of freelancing, this could technically be considered either, as many introverted people prefer working alone.
However, there are enough people who genuinely enjoy the camaraderie of traditional office spaces that it’s worth considering whether you’re cut out for the isolation that comes with freelancing.
Freelancers really only interact with their clients and those they share living space with during their work hours, and this can sometimes be tough.
However, you can also choose to do your work at an outside location that allows you to be around other people more consistently.
5. PRO: Choosing Your Clients
At a traditional job, you don’t get much say in what projects you work on or who you get as clients. If you don’t get along with someone specific or aren’t interested in the type of work your boss wants you to do, you’re pretty much out of luck. To keep your job, you have to go along to get along.
As a freelancer, who you work with and which projects you take on is always your call. You can pursue work that really means something to you and spend your time serving clients you genuinely love working with.
6. CON: Tax Worries
This is another of the pros and cons of freelancing almost everyone can agree on. When you rely on traditional employment to pay your bills, keeping track of income tax is your employer’s responsibility, and it’s automatically deducted from your paychecks.
However, once you become a freelancer, this becomes your responsibility instead. That means making sure you save enough back from your income to pay your income taxes, as well as the 15.3 percent self-employment tax you also have to pay if you live in the United States.
7. PRO: Earning Better Money
At a traditional job, you’re only able to earn what those in charge of you think you should be earning. Yes, you can still make great money at many standard workplaces, but you’re entirely reliant on someone else deciding you deserve a raise or promotion to make any more.
As a freelancer, your potential to earn is virtually unlimited. You set your prices and rates, choose your clients, and decide how your business grows over the long haul.
Your services are ultimately worth what people are willing to pay, and that amount can be significant, especially for very skilled or experienced freelancers.
8. CON: Inconsistent Work
Of the many pros and cons of freelancing, this is another of the really huge cons for most people. Finding enough work to keep your expenses comfortably paid isn’t easy, especially when you’re brand new to freelancing.
Building a client base and carving out a place for yourself in your industry of choice takes time, dedication, and patience.
But the good news is it eventually gets better, especially if you do exceptionally good work. Most career freelancers eventually have regulars they can count on for consistent work, as well as stellar reputations that help them grow their businesses by word of mouth.
9. PRO: Flexible Work Hours
Although even freelancers will need to find a way to make themselves available to their clients when they need to be, your work hours can be as open and flexible as you like. If keeping traditional office hours works well for you, you’re free to do so even once you go 100 percent freelance.
However, you’re also free to work during the wee hours of the morning if you’re a night owl. You can work weekends or take every weekend off.
If you’re sick, you can take a day off on the spot to rest and get better. You’re the boss, so there’s no one around to tell you that you can’t.
10. CON: No Employee Benefits
Although benefits are often at the employer’s discretion, many people who stick to traditional employment get access to options like health insurance, 401k access, pension plans, and so forth.
When you elect to freelance instead, you’ll naturally need to secure your own healthcare solutions, etc.
But the good news is that there are many affordable options out there for freelancers and other self-employed people. These include individual retirement accounts and affordable healthcare.
11. PRO: Flexible Workload
Life can be hectic sometimes for any hard worker, even if they’re in business for themselves. Freelancers have lean periods and periods during which business is positively booming. However, how they manage those fluctuations is entirely up to them.
With some planning and foresight, it’s relatively easy to maintain a solid work-life balance that leaves plenty of room for you to live your life.
You can scale your workload up when you’ve got time and energy to burn on getting a little extra done, and you can also scale it down when you need a chance to relax, regroup, and recharge instead.
12. CON: All the Responsibility
In a traditional workplace, you have the benefit of sharing responsibility with an entire team of other people. You have your responsibilities, and your coworkers have theirs.
You likely also have options if you need to delegate anything specific to someone else.
This isn’t the case when you’re a freelancer. The entire burden of responsibility falls solely to you, and you’re always it when there’s a fire that needs putting out. Most freelancers need to learn to wear many hats (and wear them well) for this reason.
13. PRO: Work from Anywhere
Traditional workers more or less have to be located where the work is, so they only have so many choices when it comes to where they live.
Plus, there’s always the chance that their company could require them to relocate in order to keep their job or accept a promotion.
Freelancers can quite literally work from anywhere in the world, including their own homes. They don’t have to worry about spending a large chunk of their day commuting, either.
14. CON: No Paid Time Off
In a traditional workplace, you typically have access to paid sick days and at least occasional paid time off, which can help take the edge off of any potential income loss.
But when you’re a freelancer, you need to plan ahead for any time off you want to take. This includes the time you might need to take due to illness or emergency.
15. PRO: Superior Skill Building
Some of the pros and cons of freelancing are foreseeable, but others are unexpected. One pro many freelancers didn’t count on when they first went into business for themselves is the skill level they’d eventually reach.
Freelancing doesn’t just teach you to be better at the actual skill set needed for your work. It will make you better at critical skills everyone could use, like time management, financial literacy, and communication.
If you’re new to freelancing, you’ve probably wondered how to adapt to this routine, right? Possibly he wondered if he could adapt to this style of work.
That’s why we’ve separated this video where a UX Design professional shows her week as a freelancer.
Streamline Your Career with the Right Tools
Now that you know a bit about the key pros and cons of freelancing, you can walk into your future with your eyes wide open.
You’re ready for the risks of becoming a freelancer and prepared for the advantages, as well. Now it’s time to take the next step.
Check out our comprehensive write-up on some of the best tools for freelancers, and make your journey into freelancing as smooth as possible.
You’ll discover options to help you manage your finances, streamline your schedule, and more!