To freelance or not to freelance? Advantages and disadvantages of going self-employed
Freelancing can give you a huge range of benefits, which makes becoming a freelancer such an attractive option compared to being employed. Higher pay, improved professional satisfaction and greater flexibility are just some of the benefits of freelancing.
However, freelancing does not suit everyone, as there are some challenges associated with starting and running your own freelancer business.
But, with the right support, none of these challenges are insurmountable and you will find that finding new work, keeping your skills fresh and taking care of freelance business admin becomes easier.
- 1 Advantages of becoming a freelancer
- 2 Disadvantages with freelancing
Advantages of becoming a freelancer
You should find that you benefit from increased earnings in two ways: you are paid more per hour /day than an equivalent employee, and your tax status enables you to take home more net pay than an employee.
Great variety of work
Most freelancers list variety as the number one benefit of freelancing.
You choose your assignments and clients, so you can choose only to work on projects that interest you
Employees typically must turn up to work between set hours, 9-5 (at least!) five days a week, with limited time off.
Freelancers can choose when to work and when not to, and many have greater control over working hours and locations.
When you are between freelance work, you can choose to take as much or as little time off as you like.
Plus, because you are earning more, you have to work less to make the same amount of money as when you were employed.
Develop new skills
You choose which skills to develop and what training you take.
Most freelancers find they gain much greater satisfaction, and return on financial investment, when they are in control of their own skills development.
Ditch the office politics
Freelancers are independent from their clients, and do not become line managers.
You no longer have to schmooze your boss for that promotion / pay rise / week off / training course / flexitime – you are your own boss!
There is no pressure for you to put in excessive hours (you get paid by the hour / day), work weekends (unless paid) or strive for promotions to secure wage increases.
If you want more money, you can choose a better paid freelance gig.
Improved work / life balance
It is amazing how much better many people feel when they have control over their own destiny. As a freelancer, that’s what you will have.
If you plan to use your increased earnings to subsidise taking the school holidays off with your kids, or learning to sail, that’s your choice.
If work is everything to you, then you can spend all 52 weeks of the year in contract, which is your choice.
For many workers, freelancing is the answer to their work and lifestyle prayers. You can continue to perform a role that you love, train and develop your skills at your own pace, and choose when and where you work.
But freelancing does not suit everyone. You must acquire a whole set of expertise to ensure that you stay in contract, earn the highest freelance rates, keep your skills fresh and run your freelancing business compliantly and efficiently.
Disadvantages with freelancing
Staying in work
You need to find and secure an ongoing stream of freelance work to ensure you continue to earn enough to make a living. This may require you to engage with recruitment agencies and learn the skills they require, or you may need to invest in sales and marketing direct to clients.
Downtime between freelance work
If you are not working then you don’t get paid. But by learning freelancing skills and keeping your technical skills up-to-date, downtime should be minimised.
Skills and development
As a freelancer, you no longer have a human resources department or talent management team on hand to ensure you are properly trained and qualified to fulfil the roles you deliver.
Some freelancers find this liberating, others a chore.
You no longer have an employer who will continue to pay you if you are ill, or offer benefits such as medical insurance or a pension.
You must take responsibility for each of these aspects of your physical and financial wellbeing.
Freelancing is not like employment, when you receive paid holidays.
If you don’t work, you don’t earn.
What you should find, though, is that you are earning so much more that you can afford to take time off.
Time spent running your freelance business
On balance, though, admin time is being constantly reduced as freelancing service providers develop new tools allowing you to minimise the time you spend running your freelance business.
Still thinking of making the leap into freelancing? If you have not done so yet, check out our online freelance training courses, which will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need for your freelance business.