Freelancing is one of those things that tend to polarize people. Some consider it their dream career. These people are determined to jump in and follow through. Regardless if they’ll never make as much as in some corporate job. Others find it too stressful and demanding. They wouldn’t even try it if someone assured them that they’d be making twice as much as they do at their current job.
The truth lies, as it often happens, somewhere in between. Sure, freelancing can be stressful and demanding, but it can be equally liberating and rewarding.
In this post, we’re going to examine some of the major advantages and disadvantages of becoming a freelancer.
Advantage: You are your own boss
You are free to work (or not) as you please. Or you can work from home or on a beach at the Gran Canaria if you feel like it. You can even wear slippers while you work, and nobody will call you on it. There’s nobody to call you on anything anymore since you’re your own boss. But that’s just the superficial stuff.
Being a freelancer also means that you get to decide which projects you’ll take in. You can also show any rude customer the door. Of course, you can design projects and implement changes the way you want, not how some upper management dimwit decides.
Disadvantage: You are your own boss
Being your own boss can be tough. Whereas your old boss was responsible for putting money in your bank account at the end of each month, now this responsibility lies solely on you. And sure, you could slack it off all you want now that you don’t have a boss, but it will be your bottom line that you’re hurting by doing so.
See, you might not have a boss, but you still have something that is even more demanding: your clients.
And while you could show the rudest or annoying of them the door, you’ll most likely think twice before doing it when you depend on their business to pay that rent or mortgage.
Advantage: You get to keep all the profit
One of the saddest feelings when working as an employee is doing all the hard work for some project, and then getting paid your usual meager salary. To make matters worse, your boss takes some huge bonus for “delivering” it, and the company sells it for a truckload of money.
As a freelancer, you get to keep any profits stemming from your labor.
If you manage to land a big gig, all of the spoils will go directly to your bank account — not to bonuses for the upper management. Well, after the tax office has done its usual pillaging, of course — but this goes without saying.
Disadvantage: You’ll need to fight hard for these profits
Doing the work is only half of the freelancing job. The other half is actually getting paid for it. Do you think it’s easy? You’d be surprised. Directly dealing with clients can be nasty.
Some will have the honest intention to pay you. However, it just so happens to lack the funds by the time you deliver the project (usually because something more urgent came up). Others will deliberately try to con you from the start.
Others still won’t stop short of saying that you should be paying them for the privilege of working for them (also known as the “I have connections” and “This gig will give you exposure” types). If you’re the kind who easily falls for vague assurances and empty promises, you’ll end up spending more energy debt-collecting than at your actual job.
Advantage: Fewer meetings and bureaucracy
“Don’t you just love business meetings?” Said no one, ever.
As a freelancer, meetings will be a thing of the past — along with all the different stupid little company rituals and corporate bureaucracy for getting the simplest thing done.
If you want to do something, you can just go ahead and do it. You won’t need to justify it through a 50-page PowerPoint presentation anymore, trying to convince bored to tears coworkers and executives.
Disadvantage: Less certainty
When every decision directly affects you and your freelance business personally, without the cushion of a large enterprise to help contain any negative impact, it can get very stressful, very quickly.
Do you think your boss’s demands of “having that business plan ready by tomorrow morning” were stressful? That is nothing if you compare it to the butterflies in your stomach when you have to prepare your own business plans and project proposals for large clients. Oh, and this planning for the future thing? Without a CEO and upper management to do it for you anymore, it’s now your responsibility too.
Advantage: More passion
In the end, all those advantages and disadvantages sort of balancing themselves out. This fact makes the decision of following a freelancing career or not more a matter of personal preference than anything else. Some people are simply happier doing their own thing. Others prefer the safety net and perks of a corporate job.
But to end on a high note in favor of freelancing, we have to admit one thing. Being your own boss is usually a more thrilling and passionate endeavor than being part of a larger team.
You might not get a company car, paid vacations, or 401(k) plan, but you’ll get to make your own mark in this world on your own terms.
And that is what being a freelancer is all about.
Do you want to become a freelancer, or are you one already? Share your experiences with us in the comments section!