The dream for most of us – after winning the lottery that is – is to be our own boss. That doesn’t necessarily mean opening an office, a café, a restaurant or any other kind of business venture that needs a lot of capital, a physical building and hiring employees. If you have the known-how, if you offer a service, and if you have the drive, then becoming a freelancer could be the way forward.
It used to be that the word ‘freelance’ was not very respectable. A freelancer was seen as someone on the fringe of unemployment and no one saw it as a real job. But things have changed and if you want to catch the freelance train to a new kind of career then just know that you are not alone. Recent statistics show that 53 million people – that is 34% of the national workforce – in the USA are freelancers, and in the UK the number is 1.4 million across all sectors.
So if you are thinking about taking a slice of the freelance pie, then these are the things you need to consider:
1. You don’t have to commit full-time Many people start as freelancers while also having a stable job. This gives you time to build-up your client list and try out the waters.
2. The market is more open to hiring freelancers. Company leaders no longer feel the need to have an employee at the office at all times so they can keep a watchful eye on them. They have started to get into the stream of thinking that freelancers actually save them costs and can be relied up on to get the job done.
3. You have more time with your family. Let’s face it, life is hard and the balancing act we all go through while trying to find quality time for our family while having a stable career makes it even harder. As a freelancer you can schedule your work around your family’s needs – and you may also become a happier individual.
4. It is flexible. You are independent, you can work anywhere if you are a writer, a designer or programmer, you can do the work when it suits you (as long as the customer is happy) and you can excel as a professional because of all this flexibility.
5. All the profit is yours. Yes, you still work in a competitive market so you may not be able to ask for the exact fee you want, but this also means that you do not have to offer a flat rate to each customer. Jobs vary for freelancers, the amount of time and effort also varies so the money you receive will also vary. But the good thing is, all that profit is yours to invest how you wish and expand your business if you so wish.
Not to freelance
1. Although the internet and social media have made it easier to find work, it is still not that easy. You have to work on networking and getting your name known. Also because of this need to advertise yourself and be the one in charge of driving your business forward, you will also take care of the business side of things.
2. Your income is not stable. One month your client list may be sky-rocketing and the next you may find yourself with lots more free time on your hands. Also, when it comes to the money side of things, you also have to make equal or more money than your office job, if you decide to go all out.
3. You have to deal with all problems. Being someone’s employee means you know your job role, you do what needs to be done within that framework and that is basically it. When you are a freelancer you have to deal with client problems, if your laptop decides to take a day off you will have to find someone to fix it, and whatever else could go wrong.
4. You are alone. You may have to get out and see clients, do some research, but most of the time you are alone and this lack of social interaction may isolate you from mingling with a link-minded group. This could make you feel isolated.
5. Lack of benefits. When you are part of the traditional workforce you may get paid vacation and sick-leave, your boss might provide you with health insurance and a provident fund. When you are a freelancer you work and you get paid, if you tell the client you are going on holiday then that payment stops. And as for the other perks of working for someone else, you will have to set them up for yourself.