Is Freelancing a Good Career Option?
It depends on your personality. Freelancing certainly isn’t for everyone. But for some, they couldn’t imagine having it any other way. I’ve experienced both worlds as a corporate employee and as a freelancer. And at the time of writing, I’m doing both – working full time as a company employee while freelancing on the side. As such, I feel highly qualified to answer the question, is freelancing a good career option?
Is freelancing better than a job
It’s important to note that my employer allows me to work fully remote, which is kind of like having the best of both worlds. But more on that later. Freelancing takes hard work to make it worthwhile. However, with the proper guidance and attitude, anyone can get to a stage of freelancing where it is not only a legitimate career but an enviable lifestyle. In this post, we will look at the pros and cons of freelancing and starting your own freelance business as a solopreneur.
The pro's of freelancing
Be your own boss
This is obvious, but there is pure joy in knowing you don’t have to answer to anyone except your clients! However, you are accountable to only yourself, which is an excellent lesson in discipline. Moreover, one gains immense confidence in calling the shots and not being monitored by that pesky micro-manager.
Work from anywhere
Most freelancers are location-independent, meaning they can work from anywhere. The terms Work from Home (WFH) and Work from Anywhere (WFA) has arisen during the pandemic, and I suspect the trend continues. The future of work has changed as people choose to move from big-city centers to coastal and regional town centers. When it comes to asking yourself, is freelancing a good career option, this is the best reason to say yes.
Okay, this one is a double-edged sword. Although being your own boss means you can choose to go on a vacation whenever you want, do not be surprised if you find yourself working on said vacation (see con’s). However, choosing when you want to take a trip away is liberating, especially knowing that you can WFA if needed.
Choose who you work with
This may not be a choice for those starting out freelancing, as you may be required to take any work you can get, especially if you are building a portfolio. However, if you stay the course, you will get to a stage in your freelance career where you can be picky with who you work. Ideally, you want to get to a stage where you have three to five great paying regular clients as a freelancer.
Learn to run a business
Even if you are a freelancer working for yourself, you are still running a business. This means wearing multiple hats, including marketing, accounting, and general admin. The skills and confidence I’ve gained just from my hands-experience of running my freelance business have been invaluable. And if you plan to expand, grow, or run a start-up, then the business of freelancing is a great training ground.
The cons of freelancing
Continually looking for your next gig
Again, this is more of an issue when you are starting as a new freelancer. You may find yourself having to market yourself and chase the leads to keep the work flowing in. And that’s okay; it’s part of the hustle. But there are times when you might find it challenging. Having the right mindset is crucial for when work dries up. It also helps to be on some freelancer outsourcing platforms like Fiverr. Yes, they generally pay less, but they can be handy to fill in the gaps. Any work is better than no work.
Dealing with difficult clients
Most of the time, your clients will be fine, some even great (hint, these are the ones you want to keep), but you will get a shocker once in a while. They will either be demanding, bad communicators, late paying up, or all of the above. The good news is that the more experience you get, the better you become at spotting red flags from the start. And when you do, you can just tell them you are booked up for months or provide them with an outrageously expensive quote. It seems to do the trick.
Touching on the above, sometimes you will find yourself chasing invoices. Again, most people are great at paying on time, but there are some, for whatever reason, who take their sweet-ass time. For some reason, creatives often don’t get paid on the final delivery of their work. This is where the question, is freelancing a good career option, sways to the downside. A plumber recently came to my home to fix something. He finished the job and then pulled out an EFTPOS machine, and I paid him straight away. Why shouldn’t it be the same for creatives?
Hard to plan holidays
As discussed in the pros, the freedom to take holidays can be both a blessing and a curse. Several times when I have planned to take a few weeks off, I have had a regular client ask for work to be completed right before I fly out. I almost destroyed a relationship while working remotely from Africa because of this. I have since learned to set an auto-responder email saying I’m unavailable, but even that sometimes doesn’t work.
This is a big one, and it’s real. Occasionally, you might bite off more than you can chew and find yourself having to hit multiple deadlines at once and suffering from imposter syndrome. And it can be stressful. Very stressful. As a freelancer, looking after yourself and managing stress is essential. For me, a good walk or swim at the beach helps. Also, not taking on too much work at once!
Is freelancing worth it?
Is freelancing a good career move? In my opinion, the pros outweighed the cons. But the situation I have now – working for a company whose values align with my own and writing about a subject (travel) that I love, plus the freedom to work from wherever and whenever, is ideal. But I would not have got here without working for myself and cementing my independence. There is a certain confidence one gets from learning to earn income location-independently. Freedom is the solopreneur’s biggest reward, however, is does take rigorous self-discipline and hard work. As the cliche goes, nothing good comes easy.