Evermore so in the last year during the pandemic, workers reaccess their priorities, lifestyles, and career prospects. A common question I get is, “Is freelancing a good career option?
My answer is a resounding, Yes!
But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. It still 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 pro’s and con’s of freelancing. Much also applies to starting your own business as a free agent or solopreneur.
The pro’s of freelancing
Being your own boss
This is an obvious one, but there is a pure joy of knowing you don’t have to answer to anyone, except your clients, of course! 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 micromanaged 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 centres to coastal and regional town centres. Hopefully, when the world returns to a sense of normality, we will have the choice of living and working overseas again.
Take holidays whenever you want
Okay, this one is a bit of 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 vacay (see con’s). However, having the freedom to choose when you want to take a trip away is liberating, especially knowing that you can WFA if need be.
Choose who you work with
This may not be choice for those starting out freelancing, as you may be required take any work you can get, especially if you are building a portfolio. However, if you stay the course and take on my advice through this blog and book, you will get to a stage in your freelance career where you can be picky with who you work with. 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 sole trader freelancer, you are still running a business. This means wearing multiple hats, including marketing, accounting, client relationships 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 start up another company, then the business of freelancing is a great training ground.
The cons of freelancing
Continually looking for work
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.
Handling 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 you can just 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. A plumber recently came to my home to fix something. He did, and then pulled out an EFTPOS machine, and I paid him straight away. Why shouldn’t it be the same for creative freelancers?
Hard to plan holidays/time off
As talked about in the pros, 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 South Africa because of this. Since I have 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. Very real. Occasionally, you might bite off more than you can chew and find yourself having to hit multiple deadlines at once. And it can be stressful. Very stressful. As a freelancer, it’s essential to look after yourself and manage stress. For me, a good walk or swim at the beach helps. Also, not taking on too much work at once!
Is freelancing worth it?
In my opinion, the pro’s outweighed the cons. Yes, there are some things I miss about full-time employment. But would I go back to it? Never… well, maybe if I was offered some seriously big bucks. Everyone has a price, right?
Working for yourself is for those looking to cement their independence. There is a certain confidence one gets from learning to independently earn income. Freedom is the solopreneurs biggest reward, however is does take rigorous self-discipline.