Choosing a freelance career comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
We have made a list of the greatest benefits and drawbacks of being a freelancer.
Our company serves all type of freelancers. As a result, this list considers the big difference between the different types of freelancers. The life of an online freelancer is vastly different than the life of a freelancer who must be physically present to perform the job.
While we welcome all types of freelancers, we have extra focus on serving tradespeople. Particularly within the construction business. We focus strongly on these type of freelancers, as we are one of the very first platforms to do so. But it doesn’t really matter if you are a graphic designer, carpenter, it-expert, painter, writer or electrician, we have something for all freelancers. Likewise, this blog post is relevant for all type of freelancers.
Read about how the number of independent contractors is increasing within the construction industry here.
Pros of being a freelancer:
Freedom & Flexibility
All freelancers have more freedom and flexibility in comparison with regular full-time employees. However, how much depends on what type of freelancer you are.
If your freelance skills require you to be physically present, the freedom and flexibility will naturally be limited. If you are a freelance painter, carpenter, electrician, plumber, photographer or welder you will have to get out of bed and work at the required place.
On the other hand, if you are an online freelancer, you cannot find another job with more freedom and flexibility. You are not just your own boss, but you also get to work in your pajamas, on the beach or wherever else you want to.
Maybe you are an SEO expert, it-expert, translator or designer – All of whom performs tasks that can be completed from the other side of the earth. You do not have to be nowhere near the company you work for.
This provides you with all the freedom and flexibility in the world. But it also provides you with challenges. Far from everyone is able to manage this freedom. With great freedom comes great responsibility!
You need to be independent, strong-minded and professional to enjoy this freedom while also managing to work efficiently. When you are not forced to get up, you can easily get into a bad habit of sleeping in and staying up late. And with no one to account to at the end of the day, it can be tempting to waste time procrastinating on the internet.
Complete control of your life
This advantage is connected to the great freedom you have as a freelancer. You have complete control over your own work life. No one decides what kind of work you take on or how you do it.
Once again, the degree of control depends on what type of independent worker you are. As a carpenter or electrician, you still choose what type of jobs you like to take and who you would work for. But you do not have the same freedom as online freelancers. You will often work on e.g. construction sites where you have to meet up every morning and complete the tasks.
You are not able to take a day off or take an extra couple of hours of sleep one day. This is though exactly what an online freelancer would be able to do as long as they meet their deadlines.
But if you are an online freelance, you really do have complete control of all aspects of your life. If you are more productive in the evening, then just use the morning to get some exercise and work a little extra later instead. You don’t have anyone to account to or ask for permission.
Of course, you might not be in the luxurious situation that you can always just “pick and choose” which jobs would be most interesting to do. Sometimes you might need to expand your horizon to get in some extra cash. But in the end, it is only you who decide what you would like to work with and which clients you want to work for.
As an independent worker, you rarely work on long-term projects. In this business, the majority of all jobs are less than 12 months. And most jobs, are probably much shorter than that ranging from just weeks to a few months.
This also means that you meet new challenges more often than anyone else. You may be doing the same tasks. But doing the same for different companies and in different settings is just more interesting. Therefore, also much more motivating.
A great freelancer is also always keen on impressing new clients. The first impression is crucial for you as a freelancer. It is important that you manage to build long-term relationships with as many clients as possible.
Therefore, you need to be on your best behavior with every client. This will come easier when you work with new and interesting tasks for different companies.
Few things in life are as satisfying as following your own dreams. If you are an independent freelancer, you have most likely chosen this because you have had a dream to become your own boss. Of course, you dream might also just have been to earn extra money. Nevertheless, many people likely chose a freelance career because they wish to be independent.
Working with something you love and in a way you love it will feel self-fulfilling. Few people in the world truly look forward to Monday morning. But I bet that you are more likely to like Mondays, and every other work day if you are working on your own terms and following your dreams.
You earn more money
On a global average, Freelancers earn more in average than full-time employees. Read this blog post to check it out how much freelancers earn on average.
Earning more is great, but reality also is that you have to earn more money as a freelancer. Why? Because you have more expenses than a regular full-time employee does and none of the regular employee benefits.
But you still have great options to earn more money in total. And you get to enjoy all the other great benefits of being a freelancer.
Particularly in Europe, people from countries with low salaries have great options to go to e.g. Scandinavia to get work. They might be paid a low fee according to Scandinavian standards, but most likely this will be 2-3 times the salary in their home country.
Therefore, you often hear of e.g. Eastern European carpenters, painters, welders, electricians and engineers who go to either Denmark, Sweden or Norway to work freelance and earn a lot of money.
As an example, in Poland, the average monthly income is 1023,46 EUR. In comparison, the average monthly income in Denmark is more than three times as high at 3282,33 EUR per month. his also means that there are great opportunities for low-income countries to work freelance across borders in e.g. high-income countries as Scandinavia.
Therefore, it is possible for all types of freelancers to earn more money than by regular work.
Changing business demands (unreliable income)
As a freelancer, the demand for your services can vary dependent on your skills. This also means that freelancers rarely have a firm and steady income. Each month can be different, but the monthly expenses usually stay the same. This can naturally create some challenges and may require you to be good at managing your budget.
Also, if you have 2-3 bad months, this might make it difficult for you to make the bills in time. This is never a dream scenario, but it is realistic. Therefore, if you have 2-3 good months, it might be a good idea to not just spend them all at once. Always save something for a rainy day or month!
On the other hand, as a freelancer, you have multiple clients. This also means that you do not risk losing all of your income from one day to another. A regular employee only has one source of income and risk losing it all at once. Just because you have a job, it does not mean that you have job security and a guaranteed source of income. Just ask the millions of people who have lost a job throughout their life.
The octopus role
Freelancers usually work with things they love. However, once you live out your dream as a freelancer you must be aware of the need to perform tasks few people loves. No one is going to do you accounting, answer you emails, business calls, file your taxes or contact clients on your behalf.
Therefore, do not expect the life as a freelancer to be a simple and a walk in the park. You need to be ready to manage all tasks associated with your freelance business. Only if your business thrives you may consider hiring a secretary. But for most people the expenses of that would be too high to make it a profitable business.
But remember, you might not need to hire a full or half-time secretary. Maybe it is enough to just hire a freelancer to do your accounting or to advise you on legal aspects. Using other freelancers to boots your own freelance business is a viable option.
You do not get to enjoy the same benefits as regular employees. You do not have an employer that gives your bonuses, a new phone, computer or free lunch for instance. Dependent on your profession, you might also need to buy software programs or other types of equipment to perform a job.
As we mentioned earlier, freelancer have more expenses and they also have fewer benefits, but luckily, they also earn more money. On a global average, freelancers earn 19,26 EUR an hour.
No latter to climb
You cannot get a promotion and rise in the internal hierarchy of the firm. There are no opportunities for climbing the ranks and increase your paycheck promotion by promotion.
For some people, the opportunity to climb the latter is a great level of motivation. A freelancer does not have this opportunity. But don’t fool yourself and believe that you don’t have the opportunity to improve your income.
As a freelancer you can, of course, earn more each year by being better and more experienced. If you are great at building relationships with your clients, you can earn more money each year. Each year you should have an increasing number of clients that trust you. Hopefully, these clients would contact you if they need services within your expertise again.
Lack of respect
Over the last decades, people’s perception towards freelancers has changed. In fact, 65 % of American freelancers feel more respected now than 3 years ago (Freelancer Union). Nonetheless, many people still regard freelancers as people who are just unable to find a regular full-time job.
As we explained in another blog post, this is though far from true. Read how skilled workers deliberately choose a freelancing career here.
It can be quite annoying to have to defend your profession, but stay upright and happy knowing that this is changing. Instead, see it as an opportunity to educate people about the great benefits of freelancing. Remember to let them know how much you actually earn. This might give you the respect you deserve.