I come across so many articles that present a picture-perfect life of a freelancer, a life that is full of choices and flexibility. And yet, what also needs to be told is that for every 1 freelancer that makes it, there are 9 others who fail to generate a steady income source and have to return back to a full-time job or look out for other options. So, before you take the plunge, spend some time in understanding the pros and cons of freelancing. It’s always better to take an informed decision than to jump into something hastily and then regret it later….like they say – look before you leap!
Let’s Look at the Positives of Freelancing First
You are your own boss
Employees Don’t Quit Their Job, They Quit Their Boss – heard of this before? Well, the good news with freelancing is – you do not have to worry about a bad or inconsiderate boss. You get to decide the kind of work you want to do and the people you wish to work with. No more personality clashes or power struggles…You don’t have to dread waking up every morning and going to work for a boss who makes your work and day really miserable!
You get to decide your schedule
I really think that the ability to decide your schedule is the best thing about freelancing! Like for me, I like to get up really early in the morning and get an hour of work done before getting into the daily grind of breakfast and getting kids ready for school. Post 9 am, I again get a peaceful 3 hours to get some more work done. Also, there are days when the house or the kids need some extra attention. On days like these, I simply work a few hours less and compensate for it the next day or over the weekend. Believe me, having this kind of a flexibility, especially when you have young kids at home, can be such a relief and a great stress buster!
Say Goodbye to the traffic jams…Yay!
I worked for Sony from 2003-2006 as a Product Manager and one of the major highlights of my stint there was the daily commute – a total of 70 kms in a day! Combine the distance with all the traffic snarls, and what you get is a total 4 hours of time wasted every single day! Well, you have some good news here…with freelancing, I’ve been able to bring down this 4 hours to an absolute 0! What more can one ask for! Also, with the gas prices shooting through the roof with every passing year, keeping our daily commute to the minimum possible distance is a great way of going easy on our pockets.
Better work-life balance
I’ve heard many of my friends say that a thing like work-life balance is a myth and never really attainable. And I do agree that with a normal 9 to 5 job, it can be a real challenge. You hardly get any time for your personal stuff from Monday to Friday and there’s a lot to catch up with on the weekends. With freelancing, you can always adjust your schedule to include things like a visit to the doctor, a meeting at school, preparing for a festival or for that matter, even a get-together at home! In a nutshell, you can fit your schedule around your personal commitments. Again, things like these happen only once in while. I prefer to stick to my routine, deviating only if I don’t have any other option.
Your work can travel with you
All that I need to do my work is my laptop, which I can carry anywhere and literally everywhere. I have actually carried my laptop with me to family holidays or a visit to a relative’s house! On holidays, sometimes I get over with an hour or two of work before 7 am and then am free to enjoy the entire day at my pace. There are no hard and fast rules here. I decide my work according to my schedule and vice versa!
Do check out my post on ‘ I am so happy I ditched my 9-5 routine‘. I am sure you will enjoy reading some interesting insights on this topic!
Now, Let’s Check Out the Cons of Freelancing
Get used to unstable income
You are working on projects that are mostly short-term in nature, like 3-6 months. Sometimes, projects can end abruptly for reasons like a client running out of budget or a pause to the promotions as the client website gets re-designed…the reasons for a project coming to an abrupt end could be many. What it means for you is that your finances or investment plans can go really haywire if you do not plan things properly. For me, I have a client who I’ve been regularly working with for the last 4 years. The income that I generate from this project covers my bills and investments. I also keep aside a lump sum amount to cover my expenditures for 3-4 months, as a security against any of my projects ending abruptly. My husband is in a regular job, giving me an additional layer of security…
What I am trying to say is that sometimes you will have more than enough work, sometimes the work will be just enough to cover your expenses and there could also be times when you will have absolutely no work. So, always keep your base covered. Assess your situation carefully and don’t jump into anything hastily.
Distractions can ruin your schedule
A lot of freelancers work from home. And working from home comes with its own set of challenges. Sometimes you are tempted to finish off some household chore or personal errands, thinking it will take “just 10 minutes”. Then there are friends and relatives who refuse to believe you are doing genuine work and think it’s perfectly fine for you to take a break or two or that you’re always around! While you would love to help, this can make things difficult sometimes. Add to that children and their vacations, you have many reasons to get distracted and allowing it to get the better of your schedule.
The only way around this issue is to be very strict about your schedule, moving away from it only in case of serious issues or emergencies. Don’t make a habit out of adjusting your schedule to adjust personal commitments.
Freelancing can feel lonely sometimes
Corporate environment is a great place for bringing like-minded people together. It’s a lot easier to make friends and keep them. You are working with the same set of people every day and some of them become a huge support system for you over a period of time. As a freelancer, you are mostly working alone and remotely. Interactions are mostly through mail or Skype which can make you feel lonely or lost sometimes.
So, always remind yourself why you got into it, the awesome benefits that it brings to your quality of life. Make an effort to go out and meet people, go out for walks, join some clubs. Also, if you love to work in a group and love being part of a social network, then freelancing may not really work out for you and you should think long and hard before jumping into the fray…
You will be trading time for money
Say goodbye to paid vacations, sick leaves, sabbaticals and all that jazz…You don’t work, you don’t get paid! As simple as that. Like for me, my clients are based out of the U.S and I work from India. Obviously, my festivals and holidays don’t match with that of my clients. So, I end up working on most of my festivals. But since I work only a few hours a day, I am able to manage my work well.
You will not have a colleague covering up for you in case of your absence and you need to plan your work and schedule accordingly.
No benefits or security
You will have to bid adieu to health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations, parental leave and a host of other benefits that a company gives to its employees. And that can pinch your purse big time! This is a huge MINUS that freelancing brings to the table and you have to see for yourself if you can work your way around this one.
In my case, as I mentioned before, my husband holds a traditional job with all the perks that come with it. And that probably is the reason why I’ve been able to set myself as a freelancer in the last 5 years. When I started out, I had given myself a time-frame of a year to test the waters and see if this could be financially sustainable in the long run.
So far, so good! It’s worked well for me for till now. At the same time, I think it’s about time that I branch out into new zones like training and affiliate marketing. The reason – I want to create an asset of my own that can grow over time, also increasing my income potential in the long run. The reason I wish to get into digital marketing training is very simple – I think I’ve had enough of sitting quietly behind the screen and doing my work with almost zero human interaction (professionally).
I think it’s always a good idea to work with people, there’s so much we can learn from each other! So my aim for the next year – to end this self-imposed exile and balance my online work with a healthy dose of offline presence…
Sounds like a plan? Do leave your comments below!