Freelancing or being self-employed is not as glamorous as most people make it out to be. It comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re thinking about getting started in freelancing or going back to a day job after struggling with freelancing, this list of pros and cons of being self-employed will help you make a decision.
If you’ve seen selfies of digital nomads traveling around the world living a laptop lifestyle. Or Facebook posts saying freelancing is a lonely road. Let me reassure you, it’s all true.
Freelancing comes with many benefits and also downsides. However, I see it as a healthy balance of both. It’s certainly much better than the downsides of working at a 9-to-5 job. Here’s why.
#1 Never Having To Answer To A Boss
Before starting freelancing I worked at 3 different day jobs. Even though it was a terrible time full of depressed moments, I’m thankful for the experience.
Because it allowed me to see the benefits of freelancing and truly appreciate being able to be my own boss.
You can never do great work while working at a day job.
How can you even do any work, when there’s a boss hovering over your shoulder every few minutes, criticizing your work, not appreciating your creativity, never listening to your ideas, and making you feel anxious.
Being self-employed, you won’t have to worry about any of that. Your clients will welcome your ideas, respect your thoughts, and give you the freedom to do work however you like.
But, You Have To Answer To Clients
Of course, when you’re working with clients, you’ll still have to deliver work on time, meet deadlines, receive constructive criticism from clients, and do revisions.
But, don’t confuse your clients for a boss. As a freelancer, you are your own boss!
If you feel like a client is using you, manipulating you, or making you feel depressed, you can fire them. And find another client. It’s as simple as that.
#2 You’ll Earn A Lot More Money
At the moment, I’m actually earning 20X more than the salary I was earning at my day job. My parents are still wondering if I’m running some kind of illegal drug distribution system or working for a terrorist group. They have no idea how it’s even possible to sit in front of my computer all day and make money.
It may take you a while to get there (eg: took me 4 years of hard work), but you will earn a lot more doing freelance work than any other day job you can think of.
As long as you don’t get comfortable and keep learning new skills and improving your services, you will eventually earn more money being self-employed. I guarantee that.
But, No Guaranteed Monthly Paychecks
Unless you land a full-time freelancing gig at a startup or a remote team, there won’t be a guaranteed paycheck when freelancing.
In my first 4 years, I lived from client to client. After finishing one project, I went on to look for another. This is the case for most freelancers. There’s always a risk of not landing a client in time.
But, you can fix this by working with long-term clients and projects. It’s how I managed to fix my problem. Once I worked with the same 3 clients for over 2 years.
#3 Ability To Work Flexible Hours
Waking up at 10 AM and starting work at 1 PM is one of the biggest benefits of being self-employed.
I’m not a morning person and I always hated waking up in the morning. It took me a while a realize that I’m a night owl. I do my best work at night.
As a freelancer, I can work any time I want. I don’t have to worry about being late to work and coming up with a fake story to explain to my boss why I was late.
Come to think of it, I think having to wake up in the morning is probably one of the reasons why I always hated my day job.
But, You’ll Have To Work Much Harder
Being your own boss comes with a lot of responsibilities. You have to finish specific tasks every day, manage different clients, update clients on progress, issue invoices, manage expenses, and much more.
So, you will probably end up working more hours than a 9 to 5 job. In fact, there are days I work until 12-1AM. But, I don’t consider it work because I truly enjoy what I’m doing.
#4 Future-Proof Your Career
With the recent pandemic situation, more and more businesses are now switching to 100% remote work systems. This means all their employees now work from home or they hire remote workers from foreign countries.
This is great news for freelancers as it will open more remote positions and job openings for remote workers from around the world.
In the next few years, we will surely see a rise in the number of freelance workers and jobs available in the industry.
But, You’ll Be Stuck At Home
Of course, as a remote worker, you won’t be able to take a trip to the office and spend time with your colleagues and friends.
For introverts, this is an ideal situation. But extroverts will have a hard time adjusting to this change. But if you survived the lockdowns in the pandemic, switching to a remote position won’t be too difficult.
#5 You’ll Be More Productive
According to studies, working from home improves employee work performance by 13%, lowers stress, and boosts morale.
After becoming self-employed, you’ll be able to approach projects and work at your own pace. Take your time to complete tasks without rushing. And work at the comfort of your home while playing around with your pets or even video games.
Sure, there will be deadlines and project schedules to deal with. But, when you’re comfortable with your workplace and have the freedom to work flexible hours, you won’t have to worry about them as much.
But, There Will Be Distractions
There will also be some distractions, like when a friend drops by your house unannounced or when you have to be a good host to guests and relatives. Or when your kids get back from school and start running around the house yelling.
Of course, there’s nothing a good noise-canceling headphone can fix.
#6 Freedom To Travel More
As an introvert, I always enjoyed my own company and I love staying at home. My definition of a good time and enjoying life is staying at home, reading a good book, writing, playing my favorite games, or watching a movie.
Although, there are many people who wish they could travel more, see the world, and explore new places. Freelancing is a great way to achieve this dream. You can actually work and travel at the same time.
Becoming self-employed is the best strategy to become a digital nomad.
But, You Probably Won’t Be Able To
As I’ve been saying, freelancers also have to manage a lot of responsibilities. So, even when you travel, you will have to work long hours to deliver work on time.
Obviously, it’s difficult to work and be productive when you’re traveling from one place to another. However, there are plenty of people who travel while working very comfortably.
#7 Start Your Own Business
Freelancing is a lot more like running your own business. It’s probably why many freelancers often end up starting their own businesses.
Brian Casel is one of the freelancers that I admire. He used to be a freelance web designer. Then he turned his service into a product business by providing web design and marketing services to restaurants and for hotels. He sold both businesses for profit and now running a content marketing business.
Starting a business is also something on my bucket list. In a way, I feel like freelancing has prepared me for it and I’m ready to take on the challenge.
But, Are You Willing To Take A Risk?
Starting a business involves a lot more responsibility than being self-employed. Managing a team of employees is the biggest responsibility of all.
Also, leaving your comfort zone of earning a living to invest in a business is a risk that most people aren’t willing to take.
#8 Spend More Time With Your Family
I remember, when I was a kid, I used to stay up late until my dad comes home. To see if he brings any treats. Or tell him about all the exciting things that happened at school. But, most days, he comes home late, often in an angry mood, and goes straight to bed.
I know for a fact that most parents regret not being able to spend quality time with their children because of their demanding jobs.
Becoming self-employed will help you fix this problem. You can spend more time with your kids, spouse, and even your pets. And you’ll become a better parent/partner.
But, It Can Also Be Lonely
A downside to freelancing is that there will be very few people who understand what you do. As a result, it can get lonely at times.
Sometimes, my friends ask how I can get tired by sitting in front of a computer. They don’t understand how creative work can drain your mental energy.
Especially in my country, having a permanent job and a monthly paycheck are the only factors that people consider when judging a person’s character. They don’t care how miserable you are working at a low-paying government job, as long as you get a paycheck at the end of the month.
#9 Follow Your Passion
When working as a freelancer, you’ll have the freedom to find and work with clients that you want to work with.
If you love writing about traveling, you can find jobs in the travel blogging niche.
If you love to craft hand-lettering designs, you can find work in that niche too.
Simply put, being self-employed means you get to choose to do work that you enjoy doing.
But, You’ll Have To Listen To Clients
Even if you land your dream job and get to do stuff that you’re passionate about, most of the time you’ll have to do the work as you’re told to.
The client will almost always tell you what they want the project to look like. So you’ll often have to follow their guidelines. This gives very little creative freedom for you to do the work as you prefer to do.
But, if you do manage to build a reputation. The clients will come to you for your creative output. Like the way big companies approach highly skilled people.
#10 Find Financial Freedom
Freelancing allowed me to find financial freedom.
Thanks to working online, I was able to earn 10X the salary I would’ve earned from working at a normal job. As a result, I was able to afford a house and a brand new car, all by myself without any debt.
It’s a dream come true. I can’t even imagine where I would be if I hadn’t started working online.
But, It’ll Take A Lot Of Work
This freedom to be able to buy the best things you want does not come easy. It takes a lot of hard work.
Before I earned my first $500, I worked every single day making very small amounts of money here and there. But I was consistent and worked hard with one goal in mind. Eventually, I got there.
You can also be financially free while working online, but it will take dedication and hard work. Are you willing to take the challenge?
One More Reason To Consider
Although, none of these pros or cons aren’t as important as your happiness.
The joy and the happiness you get from working comfortably from home and doing work you love is something that you can never put a price on.
You don’t have to sacrifice your own happiness to provide for yourself or your family. You can live a happy life being self-employed.
Also, Don’t Fall For The Hype
Being a freelancer is a lot similar to working at a 9-to-5 job. They both require you to work hard to earn money.
So don’t let anyone else fool you into believing it’s easy. Not to mention that the lonely life of freelancing is definitely not for everyone.
If you prefer the company of friends and working in a crowded environment, you should try working at an office job. There’s no shame in working a 9-to-5 job. There are many people out there who live a comfortable life working those jobs.
Only dive into freelancing if you think you can work harder or want to have more freedom to do work that you enjoy doing.
Image credit: Freepik.com