You hate your job and you know you aren’t alone. The weeks are too long; the weekends are too short. Yet when you finally interview for a new position, your feelings don’t change. You feel confined by your schedule and dread your commute. These are warning signs. Maybe the problem isn’t the work. Maybe the problem is that you are working for someone else.
Freelancing is a path well trod by millions who have already decided to be their own boss. Upwork’s 2019 “Freelancing in America” survey estimated that at least 57 million adult workers did at least some freelance work –– representing over one-third of the adult labor force. From rideshare drivers and grocery deliverers to graphic designers and film editors, the freelance workforce is large and growing larger –– over half of all Gen Zers do some freelance work. The question of is freelancing worth it can be answered by looking at pros and cons.
For many freelancers, flexibility is its top selling point. For many freelancers, flexibility is its top selling point. One reason so many freelancers are under 40 is they value flexibility over pay. The remote revolution sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic gave many first timers a taste of what working from home can mean. Many adopted different schedules –– finishing projects after sunset, sleeping in until ten. In one survey, 77% of remote employees said they have been more productive since they began working from home. If you agree with them, that’s a great indicator that you should examine freelancing. For many a return to in-office work means a return to inflexible schedules, exhausting commutes, and noisy workplaces. That’s why so many employees are asking to stay remote. When bosses refuse, the answer to “is freelancing worth it” may be a loud, “Heck, yes!”
Freelancing usually means pleasing clients who care about deadlines but are unconcerned about the when or the where. Although there may be scheduled meetings (and some freelance work is regulated by the clock), for the most part you’re free to work on projects whenever you feel like it. This can be liberating. If that’s an attractive option, then by all means consider freelancing.
Besides the when, the where also rarely matters. Digital nomads post Instas with #vanlife posts while earning a living with blogs, books, tech support and graphic design. If you can do a job anywhere, why wouldn’t you? Although it may be a bit before Americans can freely roam around the world, if you become a freelancer it might free you from living in an expensive city. You can live at the beach, on a boat –– anywhere with wifi. Technology has made freelancing easy. You don’t need an expensive home office set-up –– for most work a laptop or even a tablet is sufficient. Of course, renting a co-working space can solve the isolation issue some freelancers face.
Like a Boss
That’s you –– if you become a freelancer. Of course if you’re self employed and hate the person you work for you may have a problem. For many of us answering to ourselves first and foremost is a huge net positive. It can be exhilarating making your own decisions about how to complete a project or keep a client happy. That’s not to suggest that it’s not occasionally scary or nerve wracking. If you hate being micromanaged and do well at self supervising, then freelancing may be the perfect choice. Speaking of choice…
Freedom of Choice
Clients, projects, workload –– you have a lot of say in all of these. Starting out you may take on work that isn’t enjoyable or tolerate clients that have you reaching for an afternoon Merlot. Yet that’s part of the learning curve –– and you’ll soon find your groove. Yes, freelancing’s feast or famine nature leads some to take on too much but this too is often self correcting. You can only truly know your capabilities when you push past your limits. Just be aware of burnout –– join networking events and attend professional conferences. As a small business owner, you may also enjoy Chamber of Commerce functions. It’s not just about making connections. As you meet freelancers who have been self employed for decades, you’ll see how to create work-life balance. Some cons…
Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. How many morning show segments devoted to getting rid of debt feature folks with steady paychecks? If you like that bi-weekly pay, freelancing is a hard adjustment. Although there are sites designed to make sure you get paid on time, chances are you will be waiting for money from someone eventually. Paying your bills on time is challenging when a publisher takes two months to pay you. Unfortunately the highest paying companies also can take the longest to pay invoices. Balancing large and small projects helps.
You are the Safety Net
If you need supervision and constant approval, then self employment probably isn’t for you. You’re responsible for your own health insurance and self-employment taxes (which are around twice what you’d pay as an employee). So, at first you may wonder
is freelancing worth it? No doubt the costs can add up.
So don’t dive into the deep in. Before you plunge into the freelance pool, dip your toes in the shallow side. Pick up some side projects. Build a portfolio and activate your website. Go to a conference. Once you gain some clients and confidence, it will be easy to put an unpleasant job squarely in the rear view.
Ready to discover your career purpose? Click HERE for a FREE course to discover your most authentic career!