I love being a freelancer. But, it’s not all glitter and pizza. So, today, I’ll get real about the biggest pros and cons of freelancing. That way, you can make an informed decision before you go freelance.
Pros of Freelancing
This may sound cheesy, but freelancing can set you free. It gives you the opportunity to work on your terms and take control over your career in ways you never could before. Let’s look at little closer at the main pros of freelancing.
Schedule flexibility is arguably the biggest perk of freelancing. Running your own show allows you to work around your life rather than live around your work. You get to show up for what matters in the moment — without having to ask for permission. Basically, you can work when you want (as long as you meet those deadlines and respond to inquiries in a timely manner!).
When you freelance, you can work anywhere your laptop gets an internet signal. That means you can ditch that dank cubicle in favor of your couch, porch, or home office. You can even make a living on the road from your RV or in the sky on an airplane. You’re not tied to a specific location — the work goes with you.
No Commute or Dress Code
When your work is location independent, you can say goodbye to horrible commutes and strict dress codes.
Will you miss sitting in stalled traffic on the highway? How about driving to the office when it’s snowing/sleeting/hailing/insert whatever awful precipitation you get where you are? I didn’t think so. It’s pretty sweet to roll out of bed and walk to your office in a few seconds.
Speaking of rolling out of bed, as a freelancer, you can show up for work in your jammies, sans makeup, and with barely combed hair. Shove those suits, slacks, and other dress clothes to the back of the closet. Jeans, tees, and yoga pants are all you need. Heck, even shoes are optional.
Note: If getting glammed up to go to your home office makes you feel good, by all means, do that! But, isn’t it nice knowing you don’t have to?
As a freelancer, you’re a small business owner. That means all business-related decisions are yours to make. You can choose your projects, clients, workload, systems, processes, tools, etc. You also have the ability to let go of what no longer serves you.
Note: You may go freelance because you want to pursue your interests. And that’s OK. But, you need to understand that not every assignment will be a passion project — especially early on when your main goal is to get cash flowing into your bank account.
Higher Earning Potential
In a traditional job, your salary is capped. There’s only so far you can go within your company, industry, and career. (Granted, some positions pay extremely well — but there’s not enough of those roles to go around!)
However, as a freelancer, your earning potential is less limited. Your only constraints are time (there’s only so much you can realistically do in a day) and what prospects will pay for your services (which is likely more than you think!).
You can fill your calendar with lucrative projects, increase your rates, and find ways to scale your business. Forget waiting for your annual review to ask for a raise — you decide when to level up. So, while not guaranteed, you may be able to earn more freelancing than you did as an employee.
Broadened Horizons and Network
When you freelance, you’ll meet so many people and learn so many skills — more than you could ever imagine — and certainly more than you would in your day job. That’s because, to be successful, you have to network and increase your skillset all. the. time. In a traditional job, that’s not necessarily the case.
The bottom line: You’ll be better at what you do and extremely well-connected. Who knows what amazing opportunities will come your way as a result?
Cons of Freelancing
It’s super easy to romanticize freelance life. After all, there are some incredible perks. But, they’re only half the story. There’s another side, a darker side. To ensure your long-term success and happiness, you need to understand the all-too-real cons of freelancing.
While you can (and should) prepare for this, variable income can be nerve-wracking. Some months, your income will skyrocket, and others, it will plummet. While this is typically par for the freelance course, it’s one main reason folks don’t pursue their freelance dreams.
No Employer Benefits
Another big reason professionals don’t go freelance? They lose employer benefits like health insurance, retirement savings, and paid time off.
Yes, you can get health care coverage and save for retirement on your own, but it’s more complicated and expensive. Plus, there’s no way to replace paid vacation, sick, and personal days. If you don’t work, you don’t earn.
Freelancing can get very lonely. Most of the time, you work in solitude. Plus, you’re often misunderstood by folks who work traditional jobs.
Unfortunately, experiencing these feelings for extended periods of time can have devastating effects on your physical and mental health. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate those loneliness blues.
One great way: Network with other freelancers who can empathize with what you’re going through.
Must Be Self-Motivated
Yes, it’s awesome to be able to call the shots. But that means you have to take ownership of the success or failure of your freelance business. You’ll need to be self-motivated enough to find clients, stick to the work schedule you set, and make critical decisions in a timely manner.
It’s a lot. Being a freelancer involves wearing many hats. You’ll have to be good with acting as the CEO, Marketing Director, Sales Manager, Sr. Accountant, Executive Administrative Assistant, and more. And — you’ll still need to complete client work on top of it all!
Sure, you can eventually outsource some of these functions, but that likely won’t happen right away. Handling all of these responsibilities can result in burnout. That’s why it’s important to practice regular self-care.
Line Between Professional and Personal Time Blurs
When you work from home — and you’re spending a lot of your waking hours working on or in your business — it’s easy for the line between your professional and personal time to blur.
This could be seen as a pro. After all, it is pretty nice to throw in a load of laundry between freelance tasks or calls with clients. And, being able to step away from your desk for an hour to help your kid with school work, take a walk around the block, or run a quick errand seems like the epitome of work-life balance.
But — when you start skipping family dinners, keep pushing back your bedtime, and avoid taking any days off, you’ve got a problem. Just because your office is at home doesn’t mean you have to work every hour you’re there.
Be sure to set some boundaries to protect your free time. Isn’t that one reason you went freelance to begin with?
As an employee, your company withheld taxes on your behalf. But, your freelance clients won’t do that. That means you’ll need to set aside a portion of your income so you can pay Uncle Sam’s tax bill. Since the government doesn’t want to wait a whole year to get money from you, you’ll likely also have to remit quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS.
Pro Tip: Chat with an accountant about how much you need to set aside for taxes. They can also help you with your quarterly and annual tax filings if needed.
As an employee, your company (likely) provided you with everything you needed to do your job. But, as a freelancer, you’re on the hook for all equipment, supplies, advertising, etc. that your business needs to operate. To stay profitable, you’ll need to factor those expenses in when you set your freelance rates.
Like anything else, freelancing has its perks and pitfalls. So, when you factor in the pros and cons above, do you still want to go freelance? Tell me below.
I’m rooting for you either way!
Have questions? Book a FREE 15-minute call with me here.
Learn by listening? Check out this podcast episode on the top 5 pros and cons of freelancing.