As a freelancer, you generally have a lot more flexibility. You can set your own hours, pick and choose your assignments, increase or decrease your hours, and work around family life and social commitments. As long as you meet your agreed deadlines, you can take the whole day off and work at night if you want.
But don’t get carried away and think you’ll be spending all your time playing with your kids and having quality time with your spouse. Work can pile up, and when deadlines hit, you may have to cancel your plans and work through the night to get the job done.
Generally, as a freelancer, you’re on your own. You have to arrange your own health insurance, you don’t get paid when you take time off, and you have to plan for your own retirement. When it comes to training, that’s your responsibility too.
On the face of it, you have total control as a freelancer. You choose what to work on and what not to. If a particular assignment doesn’t interest you, you can simply reject it.
But the trouble is, you have to pay the bills at the end of the month. Unless you’re in a very good position, you’ll probably have to take on some assignments that you’re not that happy about.
You also have a “boss” for each assignment: your client will give you instructions, and expect a certain standard of work from you. You may get some autonomy or control over how to do the work, but if you depart too much from the client’s expectations, you’ll run into problems.
As a freelancer, you have to motivate yourself. You have to find your own clients, do your own marketing, set up your own website, negotiate your own contracts. You have to keep putting yourself out there all the time, with nobody at your back telling you to do it.
And when you get the assignments, you have to manage them yourself. If you land a massive job that’s due a month from now, for example, there’s nothing to stop you spending the next 29 days getting up late and watching daytime TV. Nobody will be angry or fire you. But there will be consequences on day 30, if you’re unable to meet your deadline. So it’s up to you to organize your own time and make sure you stay on top of things.
Security and Stability
Freelancing can be very unstable. You may end up in a “feast or famine” cycle, where one month you’re swamped with work and the next you can’t find a single assignment. That makes it hard to plan and hard to manage your financial affairs. And even if you have regular clients, you might lose them at a moment’s notice.
But it’s not all bad news for freelancers. Those poor salaried employees have all their eggs in one basket, so for them, losing their job is catastrophic. As a freelancer, on the other hand, you have multiple clients, so if you lose one, you can simply rely on the others for your income until you find a replacement. It’s unlikely that you’ll lose them all at once, unless there’s a huge economic slowdown or upheaval in your industry—and that would affect salaried employees too.
As a freelancer, you’re often a lone wolf. You may work from home most of the time, or from your own rented studio space. Even if you do work on site for a company, you’re only there temporarily, and it’s harder to form the strong bonds that permanent employees do when they’ve worked together for years. There are plenty of opportunities to meet people, but you’ll have to make more effort to go out there and do it.
Advantages of Freelance Work
- Lots of flexibility to choose your own hours.
- Ability to choose the work you do.
- Little involvement in office politics.