For many professionals, becoming a freelancer is a dream. To be your own boss, choose your clients and work whenever and wherever you want sounds great. But, it comes with its fair share of drawbacks as well. Before you decide to go down this road, you need to make sure that it’s the right choice for you.
To help you decide we’ve prepared a list of pros and cons of becoming a freelancer.
One of the many benefits of freelancing is that you’re responsible for your hours. As you don’t need to clock in, you can decide when your work day starts and when it finishes. One of the best features of freelancing is that you don’t have a fixed work schedule. Depending on your responsibilities, you can decide when to start working and when to finish. Because of this flexibility in their working hours, freelancers are generally better able to manage their time schedules and are much more efficient.
Better Networking Opportunities
One of the main difficulties people face when they freelance is that they have nobody to give them work and as such, they must find it on their own. But this tends to have a the positive effect of making people more proactive, and willing to network. Effective networking means getting access to a better clientele and has the potential to make you a leader in your field.
It allows you to take ownership of your future. You don’t have to rely on employers who are only thinking about their own best interests. Instead, you can create opportunities for yourself and get credit for your work. One of the biggest effects this has is increased self-confidence which makes freelancers more willing to take risks.
Control Over Clients
Although this is not entirely true because you rely on clients for your living and turning someone away can often mean you won’t be able to pay next month’s rent, the reality is that if there’s a client that’s making your existence truly miserable, turning them away is possible. As a freelancer, you can also ask clients to sign contracts at the beginning of your partnership. The contract could include anything from the prices you charge to how many times you can review and make changes to designs before the client has to pay.
Work From Wherever You Want
Although you may not be able to work from an exotic island in the middle of nowhere for the rest of your life because you need to network and meet with clients, you can work from an exotic island for a limited number of days, if that’s what tickles your fancy. More importantly, you can work from where you feel most comfortable, whether that’s your home, a coworking space or your favourite café. You no longer have to deal with toxic workplaces or force yourself to be in an environment that makes you sad. As a result, most freelancers report being happier and don’t mind putting in extra hours which can help increase their earnings.
Be Your Own Boss
You get to call the shots, so rather than having to tolerate someone else’s work ethic, you can make your own rules. This also means your work translates into profit you make for yourself, not someone else. You are also responsible for branding and marketing yourself which often means making smarter decisions than your boss would because you know your product (i.e., you) better than anyone else.
Learn New Skills
It can be argued that both employed people and freelancers have potential to learn new skills. But, because a freelancers livelihood often depends on their ability to become better at networking and improve their communication skills, as well as gain marketing and sales skills, they are far more likely to master them. Apart from skills they need to learn to effectively promote themselves, freelancers also have to become masters of office management and client development.
Open New Doors in Your Industry
One of the most important benefits of freelancing is that it helps professionals develop their careers. As an employee there’s little room for growth as it all depends on your boss and whether they’re willing to promote you or take the risk and place you in a role with different responsibilities. But as a freelancer, because of the continuous professional growth and the networking opportunities presented at every turn, moving out of the limitations of your profession is inevitable.
You’re On Your Own
You’re accountable for everything that you do – both the successes and failures. This can be difficult for professionals to get used to because when you’re employed there’s always a salary at the end of the month to make you feel safe. But, when you’re freelancing you’re responsible for making all the money; you’re in charge of finding projects and clients, setting your own schedule etc.
Although it can be fun to be on your own all the time in the beginning, most freelancers start to miss having coworkers sooner or later. Coworkers are not just there to chit-chat with by the water cooler, they also provide opinions and ideas about how to handle difficult situations. When you work on your own, you have no one to exchange ideas with and hear different opinions which can be difficult when you’re not entirely sure what you need to do.
The Beginning Is Always Hard
The truth is that the beginning is hard on everyone. In fact, many freelancers go for the first few months without ever getting a client, and the majority of people struggle with bills throughout their first year as freelancers. Perseverance is essential to success.
No Weekends or Holidays
One of the biggest drawbacks of freelancing is the lack of stability which leads to a myriad of other problems. Stressing about making next month’s bills is one of them, another one is not being able to take holidays. Of course, some freelancers are lucky enough to be able to take their work with them, but many people can never really stop working because deadlines are extremely pressing and your livelihood depends on being able to juggle many projects simultaneously.
Clients Expect a Well-Rounded Skillset
Clients often choose freelancers because they consider them more efficient. So rather than outsourcing to a company where communication between various people/components participating in the project would slow things down, they prefer to give the project to a freelancer thinking that a single person can carry out the same tasks. Although this is wrong and clients should hire professionals for their speciality, freelancers are expected to have a lot of different skills, and if you want to be successful, you’ll need to become a jack of all trades as well.
Another major disadvantage of freelancing is the lack of benefits. No paid holidays, sick leave, group medical scheme, Christmas bonus, gym memberships or free lunches. All the nice extras that make an employee’s life a little bit easier are non-existent to freelancers.
Freelancing can be the best career decision you’ll ever make, but be aware that you’ll need a lot of patience and be very proactive to start making real money. This is why it’s always a good idea to start part-time and get your first few clients before you quit your full-time job.
A final tip, make sure that you look for projects on reliable websites. Do you have any other tips to share with our budding freelancers? Let me know in the comments section below.