Is freelancing for you?
With the specter of AI threatening to steal jobs we once thought we could count on, many full-time employees have been looking to freelancing for a perhaps unexpectedly safer career path. Currently, about 36% of the US workforce is comprised of freelancers, a number predicted by some to rise to 50% in 2020.
Let’s take a glance at a few of the pros and cons of freelancing, and what can be done about the latter.
Having the choice to do things your way is one of the best predictors of job satisfaction. Even as employees, people feel more engaged when they’re able to call the shots. Freelancers are spoiled with control, from the variety of projects and clientele to the workload they can cope with.
By being able to approach their work in a fashion that suits their temperament and preferences, freelancers are intrinsically motivated to perform well. Ultimately, autonomy means freedom to tweak your work conditions until you’re satisfied.
One of the greatest advantages of freelancing is the power to do it wherever you want. As long as you have an internet connection, you can enjoy the quietude of a small town or the entertainment of a metropolis, you can switch between the two, become a globetrotter, work from your bed in your underwear, or at the nearest café. Fully clothed, I hope.
It’s up to you, and you’ll be judged solely by your output.
Health-related issues, shopping, financial and family concerns, all can be dealt with more easily when you’re not tied down by a fixed schedule. If you work best at sunrise and sunset, with a dip in productivity after lunch, you can set your schedule to take advantage of peak performance hours. Need stress relief? You can easily take a break and make up for it later without consequence.
Heck, you get to decide when to take a holiday.
Most freelancers work on 2 or 3 new projects at a time, but they’re in no way stuck to those numbers. For one, on average, they work fewer hours than traditional workers, with the option to increase them. Moreover, depending on the nature of their projects, they can also charge old clients a monthly fee for light maintenance work. You can have as many clients as you can handle or as few as you deem sufficient. Whether you’re a workaholic whose drive for success is exceeded only by your blood pressure or the douchebag guitarist in dreads who serenades women at your friends’ parties, freelancing allows you to pick a suitable workload.
Freelancers can raise their rates at will and work in proportion to their needs and ambitions.
Commuting is arguably the most underestimated source of work-related unhappiness. Aside from making us miserable, it can severely damage our health and relationships. Still, we tend to voluntarily struggle with longer and more stressful commutes for higher pay.
This is a non-issue for freelancers. Rush hours henceforth shall be spent listening to Xanadu instead.
Freelancing is a business, and the aspiring freelancer must learn to think like a businessman. As a one-person operation, you wear many hats as you take care of contracts, accounting and marketing. At first, marketing will likely turn out to be more important than the quality of your work. After all, you can’t impress the client you don’t have.
How would you rate your communication skills? Are you a natural salesman? By being honest with yourself, you can quickly assess and address the issues that may otherwise prevent you from succeeding.
Consider enrolling in relevant online courses before you make the jump.
Unlike most employees, freelancers don’t have co-workers to interact with in person throughout the day. While some people prefer solitude, others can be distressed by feelings of loneliness. On the bright side, you can adjust your schedule to spend more time with family and friends.
If you still want to disturb busy people, I mean, socialize at work, there are coworking spaces with like-minded individuals developing their own independent projects. Oh, and no office politics.
Cash flow mismanagement is the reason for 82% of small businesses failures. Unless you’re reading this from your cardboard shack under a bridge, your priority should be ensuring you have adequate funds to survive the initial grind, until you establish a dependable income stream to cover the occasional drought. Cut unnecessary expenses and save up before you start freelancing full-time.
Absent benefits, freelancers have to come up with their own safety net. As soon as possible, calculate your monthly expenses and save enough money to survive on for a year. This is not your everyday pecuniary resource. You aren’t supposed to touch the treasure chest till you feel the urge to crawl back into your shack.
Stefan Mischook calls this safety net “FU Money” and considers it “The #1 Freelancing Rule.” Learn from the man.
Some people might mistake your freedom for inability or unwillingness to get a job. I, for one, like the cool side of the pillow. The Earth spins.
As you can see, most cons can be mitigated if you plan ahead and start freelancing in your free time. As a side gig, to learn the ropes.
Still unconvinced? Check out the surveys that report freelancers are happier and more fulfilled than traditional workers.
“Nah. Show me the money!” Okay.