Flexible hours, job variety, and working from anywhere. It sounds good, but there are some pitfalls to working for yourself as well. Ben weighs up what he likes and doesn’t like about being a freelancer to help you suss out whether it’s your cup of tea.
There’s no doubt that freelancing has a lot of appeal for those just starting out in their careers. After all, there are flexible hours, a range of diverse opportunities, and you can even work from home, depending on the role. However, there are some not-so-glamorous aspects of freelancing, like a possible lack of job security, and the fact that your work situation can rapidly change.
Here are some of the positives and negatives that I’ve found when it comes to freelancing, so that you can decide whether it’s right for you.
Flexible work-life balance
The nine-to-five grind isn’t for everyone, which is completely fair enough. If you’re like me, then you love a sleep-in, and freelancing allows you to sleep in whenever you want. After all, you’re your own boss! You also don’t need to ask for time off—when you’re not working, you’re off the clock. Being a freelancer means you’re free to work whenever you want, and spend the rest of the time doing what matters to you, whenever in the week that might be.
Work with whoever you want
A big complaint from people who get stuck in the same job is boredom. However, when you’re a freelancer, you can work with a range of clients, meaning you get to meet new people, exchange ideas, and develop skills you might otherwise not have been able to work on.
Want to work with a range of startups? Cool! Want to establish relationships with a range of big businesses? Go ahead. Freelancing means you can get your name out there, and work with as many (or as few) companies as your heart desires.
Explore ideas you’re interested in
If you’re someone that’s constantly daydreaming or thinking about the next thing you want to create, then freelancing is perfect. Businesses are always looking for people with great ideas, so if that sounds like you, then you’re heading down the right path.
Alternatively, if you’ve always had an idea of something you’d love to create, but never had the chance to pursue it, then freelancing can let you turn that idea into a reality, by pairing up with the right client.
Maybe the worst thing about being a freelancer is the fact that you don’t have secure work. More than once, I’ve been enjoying a freelancing role I’ve been doing on an ongoing basis, and then suddenly, it stops. This is where being good with money comes in handy, as I always keep some money saved for such an occasion. After all, you don’t want to be relying on the same clients to continue to need your services, but rather, constantly looking for new work.
Taking care of finances
If you’re freelancing as your primary source of income, then there are things you have to remember to put money aside for each time you get paid, like superannuation and taxes. It’s important to be projecting how much money you’re going to be making each year, and saving a percentage of the money you’re earning out to make sure that come tax time, you don’t end up in trouble.
In the past, I’ve loved being able to use all the money that came into my account without it being taxed, but I soon learned my lesson when my tax was due.
I set up a separate bank account for my tax money to go in to, so I forget it’s there. It’s my gift to myself come the end of the financial year. The bright side is, there are lots of things I can claim as tax deductions, like rent, phone spend, travel—even Netflix and Spotify!
Lack of employee benefits like annual leave and sick pay
One of the things that I least enjoy about freelancing is the lack of annual and sick leave. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid—it’s as simple as that.
It also means I’ve got to be extra disciplined when I do get paid, because nothing is more important than making sure you’re resting when you’re sick, so if you’re someone that stresses when they miss work, working as a freelancer can make that stress even worse.
Freelancing is one of the most rewarding things you can do, and if you’re working with the right people, can be as much, or more, fun than working in an office. Work doesn’t need to shouldn’t be a chore. Being your own boss is an experience unlike any other.
So if you’re self-motivated, love variety, and love a challenge, then maybe it’s time to get set up as a freelancer! Just make sure you’re aware of the potential negatives, and do your best to prepare for any outcomes. Your future self will thank you.