Freelance work is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, it is projected that in 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States and will make up 50.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
During my professional career journey, I met some people who, after many years of steady and stable employment, decided to give it up in favor of employment as so-called freelancers. Why is that? What leads to such a decision?
For a long time, the choice to resign from a job in a thriving company where others could only fantasize about being employed, and on top of that, working in a lucrative position and earning "good" money seemed irrational to me. But the truth is that rationality is not what freelancers care about.
Having the opportunity to talk to people who stepped into freelancing, I wanted to understand the motives for such choices. When asked, they emphasized that it's been a hard decision for them, something they matured for a long time, full of fears about whether success is possible and whether they would be able to cope with the competition in the market. Their main reasons for resigning from their previous "safe" positions included professional burnout, boredom, routine, a terrible boss, the desire for more comprehensive development, and the need to decide for themselves. Did freelancing bring those? Let's dig into the freelancer's reality!
Which professions thrive best as freelancers?
I won't surprise you if I tell you that freelancing isn't for everyone. Certainly, you can become a freelancer at any age and at any point in your life. However, before we become the captain, rudder, and ship, we need to define exactly what we want to do and how we plan on doing it.
Programmers, designers, graphic designers, translators, journalists, photographers, copywriters, human resources consultants, and creative professionals, in general, are best found in freelancing. Fun fact - almost ⅕ of digital nomads work in the IT industry.
Another critical factor is our personality traits. Indeed, only people with strong character, determination, strict discipline, high time-management skills, great positive attitude, and motivation will find themselves in the freelancer role. So, it is not for everyone, and unlike any other way of earning money. It has both advantages and disadvantages. Yet, we should also be aware that what is a drawback for one person will be an asset for another - it all depends on the individual approach.
Having discussed this point, let's move on to a condensed summary of the most frequently mentioned advantages and disadvantages of this type of work.
1. Flexibility, flexibility, and more flexibility
This is surely one of the first advantages that come to everyone's mind when talking about working as a freelancer. First of all, most often we are paid either for the result of the work delivered by a certain date or simply per hour of work. In both cases, the client doesn't care about our work hours. And in both cases, we determine the terms of the contract ourselves. So we can freely work a few hours longer one day to take a whole day off another time.
The situation is similar to vacations. If you want to take a break, you simply don't take new assignments. If you happen to have a long-term contract, then you agree with the client that you will be away for a while (if possible).
2. The possibility of selecting projects
The thing I've heard most of the time when talking to my freelancing friends was how much they hated being forced to work on projects they didn't enjoy. Sometimes you can get lucky and end up in a fresh project, with new technologies, etc. However, usually, the reality is distinct, and then comes boredom and burnout... The company can often offer you a change to another project, but it is not certain that it will be interesting and rewarding at that time.
3. Work and travel? No problem!
This perk often coincides with the advantages of working remotely. Since you self-manage your business - it's up to you to decide not only when you work but also where. So there is no problem with working from a cafe or taking a "half vacation" and going to warm countries to work from there.
In fact, you can travel constantly, and as long as you do your assignments well - it won't impact your career's well-being. Of course, sometimes you need to meet with clients, but what do we have Teams or Google Meets for?
1. Not working, then not earning
This point hurts the most and is usually considered the strongest pushback against freelancing. A vacation tastes worse when you know you're not generating income during that time, and you have to pay tax or rent anyway. Of course, you can make up for it later with rates higher than with a full-time job, but you have to learn to manage your finances wisely.
Being a freelancer, you never know if the next month will be as glamorous as the current one. Clients come and go. Projects happen, and then they're gone. Revenue gaps happen and are normal, but doubts begin to set in when you are in the middle of such a hole. It's easy to get depressed at such a time.
3. You are on your own when looking for projects
This point is especially difficult at the beginning of the business. In addition to self-motivation and organization, you have to solicit new (and any) clients on your own! It's not like in a full-time job where someone assigns you to a project, and you fly. Here you have to show your own invention and determination.
Fortunately, there are special services for freelancers, such as goLance and other websites. Through them, you can find clients all over the world.
The glories and shadows of working as a freelancer are many more. I wanted to mention universal ones to give you a better perspective if thinking about switching to such a working style. Even though there are some drawbacks - I can tell you one thing. Despite many moments of doubt, my friends who decided to give up working for companies and started their freelancing adventure do not think about returning to full-time employment as they value things it brought to their lives.
Short bio: Magdalena Sadowska, the Community Manager of PhotoAiD. With a background in psychology, she is fascinated by how people interact and create their reality. As a travel enthusiast, given a choice of sea or mountains, she chooses both.