For some, the thought of working a typical 9-5 might seem a bit dull. Depending on your line of work, freelancing could be a good alternative; however, it also comes along with its own challenges and pitfalls. Today, we’re going to go over some of the pros and cons of the freelancing lifestyle. Let’s begin.
The first and most obvious advantage to freelancing is the ability to create your own schedule. As long as you can find gigs, you can work as much or as little as you want. You can choose to work during the day, at night, or entirely on weekends; it’s up to you. In fact, some freelancers plan their entire year so they can take off during the summer or go on extended vacations. Of course, this requires a certain degree of financial restraint since you won’t be working for a couple of months, but depending on your situation it may be possible.
Along with creating your own schedule, you can work from almost any location you wish, as long as there’s a place to set up and an internet connection. Some freelancers may decide to take a vacation while they’re still working on a project—imagine being paid for your time spent on a tropical getaway? The flexibility doesn’t end there either; as a freelancer, you won’t be limited to local jobs, and may be able to take on gigs all around the globe.
Freelancers also have the advantage of taking on a wide variety of projects. Not only does this make the work more interesting in some cases, but you’ll also have the opportunity to develop additional skills or encounter unique experiences when compared with a traditional full-time role. If you’re moving from project to project, you’ll likely meet a diverse range of people who might make excellent network connections. In this way, networking is often easier for freelancers.
Your earning potential is considerably higher as a freelancer, as long as you can consistently find jobs that pay well. The more you put your name out there, the more likely you are to land gigs, which means there are virtually no limits to how much income you can make. If you’re savvy with doing your own taxes or you already have someone who does them for you, you’ll be able to take advantage of tax benefits as a freelancer. These include writing off necessities such as your computer, your cell phone, or even your car.
The flexibility that comes along with freelancing may be problematic for those who prefer more structured work. It’s very possible to take on too much work, which can lead to burnout and other more serious problems. On the other hand, you have to make certain you’re earning enough money to pay your bills and survive. You’ll also have to deal with taxes each year, as you won’t have an employer that automatically deducts your income tax from your paychecks.
Freelancers may also suffer from feelings of isolation when they’re not in regular contact with coworkers. Depending on the person, isolation can mean peace and quiet, or it could lead to feelings of loneliness and negative thought patterns. In some serious cases, a person may develop emotional issues such as anxiety or depression. It’s important to consider whether you’re cut out for working alone before you take the path of a freelancer.
Those who are looking for guidance or mentorship in their early career might want to think twice about freelancing. As a freelancer, you’re on your own. You may receive some feedback or direction here and there, but for the most part, you won’t have many opportunities to gain the advice and wisdom of others unless you’re actively seeking it from your network. In addition to this, career advancement opportunities may be few and far between, and if you do decide to get back into a traditional, full-time role, you might be stuck with an entry-level position in the absence of any high-level titles.
Perhaps most notably, freelancers will miss out on company-provided health insurance and other employee benefits that most full-time workers receive. Freelancers are self-employed, which means they’re responsible for finding and paying for their own health insurance. This can be an issue for freelancers who don’t make a lot of money, as health insurance can be quite expensive.
The Bottom Line
Freelancing is a double-edged sword. There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes along with it, and you’ll have to be quite disciplined when it comes to how you spend your time and handle your finances. If you’re not proactive, you could miss out on key networking opportunities, or you might not get enough feedback about your performance. You may also want to consider whether you’re willing to pay for health insurance or deal with income tax on your own.
On the other hand, freelancers enjoy unlimited flexibility and have the advantage of being able to take on as much work as they want. If you’re a real go-getter, your earning potential will be higher when compared to a traditional job, and you’ll be less exposed to office politics and toxic workplace behaviors. If you’re just starting out and are curious about freelancing, now is a great time to give it a shot since the stakes aren’t as high. Freelancing isn’t for everyone, and at the end of the day, it’s really just a matter of preference.
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