How to Tell If Becoming a Freelancer Is for You
Updated By Staff Writer on May 27, 2020
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably at one point dreamed of self-employment. The prospect of being your own boss as a freelancer is an alluring one, but few people see this dream come to reality.
While living your life as a freelancer can certainly be rewarding, it does come with many sacrifices that may make you reconsider beginning or continuing freelance work.
In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of freelancing, as well as several skills and qualities that being a freelancer requires.
The Gig Economy
As many reasons as there might be to reconsider freelance work, lack of opportunity isn’t one of them. For the past few years, the number of freelancers has been increasing to the point that America now has a substantial “gig economy.” Roughly 36% of the workforce1 are now freelancing.
A broad definition from WhatIs.com2 states that a gig economy is a temporary environment “in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.”
Despite what is commonly thought, freelancers aren’t all young workers. Although more than half of the global respondents in a recent survey of 21,000 freelancers,3 were under the age of 30, 1 in 3 respondents from the U.S. was over 50.
This means that workers of all generations are making the transition to freelance work and many do enjoy it. In a CompareCards survey,4 58% of workers want to turn their side projects into their full-time work. However, before you jump headfirst into freelancing, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing.
Is freelance sounding good to you? Learn how to start your freelance career.
Being Your Own Boss
The ability to be your own boss as a freelancer may seem like an attractive idea, but in reality it is both a pro and con of freelancing.
On one hand, being your own boss means that you can go about your work the way you want to, without a supervisor breathing down your neck. On the other hand, this means that you are entirely responsible for your projects. In a sense, you need to be the boss, employee, and project manager simultaneously.
Let’s take a look at some more advantages and disadvantages of freelancing.
Pros of Freelancing
Despite what you may hear from some, freelancing does come with significant perks.
Set Your Own Hours
One of the most alluring perks of being a freelancer is the ability to set your own hours. Since you aren’t working at a traditional job, that means you don’t have to be working from 9 to 5 (although you can if you prefer).
Better Work—Life Balance
Because of the ability to set their own schedule, many freelancers find that they have a better work—life balance. This is especially great news for parents as this can mean being able to spend more time with your kids.
Less Stressful Environment
Being a freelancer also means you can work in an environment of your own choosing, which usually results in less stress. Depending on your project, you could even do your work in bed wearing your pajamas (we certainly won’t judge you!).
Cons of Freelancing
Being a freelancer also comes with significant downsides.
Rejection Is Common
Rejection is a big part of freelance work. You’ll find that the needs of your clients will change often, including their need to continue working with a freelancer.
Lack Protection and Predictability
Since you aren’t working as a traditional employee, you won’t be entitled to many of the luxuries of full-time work. No paid time off, no worker’s compensation, and an unsteady monthly income can be incredibly taxing.
Speaking of taxes, you’ll find that taxes generally won’t be withheld from your pay. As a result, tax season will not only be more expensive, but far more complicated as well. You may even need to hire a tax professional.
Required Qualities and Skills
Being a freelancer isn’t for everyone. To find success, you are going to need to have certain qualities and skills under your belt.
Here are a few of the biggest qualities and skills you’ll need.
“Go Getter” Attitude
Not only do you have to be fully committed as a freelancer, you’ll need to be enthusiastic and self-motivated.
Before you begin freelancing, you’re going to need to take a hard, honest look at yourself. If you aren’t the type of person who can make yourself work and complete tasks even if you don’t want to, you may need to seriously reconsider becoming a freelancer.
Great Communication Skills
Whether it’s discussing the details of a project or constructing an invoice, you are going to need to have exceptional communication skills. This includes both superb writing and listening skills.
Even when you become established, you’re going to need to interact with other people. You need to be able to actively listen to determine exactly what your clients want from your work and each of them will communicate their needs differently.
Not having good communication skills makes you more likely to fail. Make sure you know how to communicate effectively before you begin freelance work.
Reliability and Time Management
This may seem obvious, but if you aren’t reliable, you’ll quickly find that not many clients will be willing to work with you. Word tends to get around fast in the professional world.
As a freelancer, you are solely responsible for your projects. You’re going to need good organizational and time management skills in order to make sure all of your projects are completed within tight deadlines.
If you are consistently meeting your deadlines and simultaneously delivering quality work, you may find more employers looking to hire your services.
As a freelancer, you’re going to need to continually expand your set of skills. This means you are going to need to become familiar with, if not master, new software and equipment relevant to your chosen field.
As technology progresses, businesses will figure out how to do more and more tasks in-house. If you don’t keep up with the times and specialize your craft, you may find that the number of clients beginning to work with you dwindles.
Here is a list of skills that may be in high demand5 in the near future.
Life as a freelancer is many times not a glamorous one. Some months you may make a lot of money; others you may struggle. Rejection is common and sometimes frequent.
If you can learn how to persevere through all the hardships you may face as a freelancer, you may find success.
Learn Valuable Skills
If you are looking to expand your work skills, Stevens-Henager College can help. We offer many courses that are taught by professionals with experience in their fields that will help you learn skills that can set you apart from the competition.
To learn more, contact us today to request more info about our programs.