10 Major Pros & Cons of Freelancing
Though I’ve been a freelancer full-time for 7 years, I’ve worked freelance gigs for over a decade. During that time, I’ve encountered a large number of up-sides to freelancing… and a number of down sides.
Here are the 10 major pros & cons of freelancing that I’ve encountered.
1. Pro: You get to make your own schedule.
This is actually pretty great. I can wake up when I want to and work when I want to. Yeah, there are deadlines like any other job, but if I want to work from 12 pm to 12 am, I can do that. And I can take a few hours off to go to the doctor when I need to.
Though, the con is…
Con: It can be hard to balance your work schedule with the rest of your life.
Yeah, I can go to the doctor when I want to, but I haven’t had a Friday night off in about 6 years! Because I’m always working on Fridays. So, that can be tough.
2. Pro: You can decide what jobs to take.
I don’t have to say yes to everything that comes my way. That wasn’t always the case! In the early years of freelancing, I had to say yes to every single job. Now, I get to decide. Better, right?
I thought so, too. But there’s always a…
Con: If you are struggling, you might end up taking really low paid jobs
Have you ever worked a job that only pays a few dollars an hour? I’ve done this, and it sucks!
It really, really sucks. I’ve had to do some serious “a dollar an hour if you’re lucky” work, and that was rough.
3. Pro: You get to decide how much vacation to take.
I actually like this, because I’ve never worked a job that had vacation days as a benefit. I always had jobs that just made me pay for my own vacation whenever I needed to go, so I always had to just decide if I could afford to take time off or not. And I usually wasn’t making enough to take time off.
Con: Depending on your workload and monetary needs, some years it can be hard to take a vacation at all.
If you’re someone who really relies on benefits and vacation days, freelancing can sometimes be harder than a salaried job for finding consecutive time off. Yes, I can go to the doctor if I need to, but then I have to come back home and get back to work, rather than having 2-3 days off in a row.
4. Pro: You can see your friends any time during the day.
If my friends want to do lunch, I’m all over it.
Con: If your friends aren’t also freelance, you might end up working during the only hours they’re available.
Yeah. This is a tough one, and it goes back to my “no Fridays off” thing.
Just keep in mind:
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I think this “con” can be overcome, but it’s not easy.
5. Pro: You can set your own rates.
This is really helpful, especially if you’re underselling yourself. I’ve heard people say move a decimal point or add a zero to the end of whatever you’re charging. I don’t know if that works for everyone, but I like the idea of not under-valuing your own work.
Con: In early or slow days, you might have to take really low-rate projects just to pay the bills.
And you’ll likely deal with client negotiation at some point, which can get tricky to juggle.
6. Pro: You save money on gas and lunches (if you work from home).
This is really nice. I don’t spend any money on gas, and I can make my own lunch.
Of course, I have to find the time to make lunch while I’m working! Sometimes I forget, admittedly.
Con: Some weeks you may not go outside as much as you probably should.
Get some sunshine if you can! It’s good for you to get fresh air when possible.
7. Pro: You can work from anywhere in the world.
This is a good one.
I like that I can take a trip and work without having to take “time off” from work, or stop getting paid just because I decided to spend a day in a hotel instead of at home.
Con: You might be expected to work from anywhere.
I was on an anniversary cruise last year, when suddenly, a client I hadn’t spoken to in over 2 years needed an emergency job done that same day. And, despite the ease of the job (a quick reformat), he was adamant about a phone call to explain what he needed.
The cruise phone didn’t work to call out, and I ended up spending more than I made on a phone call with the guy. And the call didn’t tell me anything he hadn’t already told me in his email!
Why did I take the job?
Because he’s a good friend of another client, and I need to keep the relationships positive. I had rush fees in place, and even then, it wasn’t enough to make up for what I spent on the phone call.
I’m redesigning my rush requirements (nothing within 1-12 hours without double rates, and no calls I don’t agree to within a 24 hour period), as I obviously learned my lesson! Email is my new rule.
But that was a hard lesson on my wallet.
8. Pro: You can choose your clients.
This is probably my favorite pro of all. Choosing your clients is a huge difference from being in a corporate position where you don’t have any control over who you work with.
Con: You may end up with a few difficult people to deal with.
Starting out, this is a major issue.
Maybe they give you more complex projects, or more tedious projects. Maybe they’re just rude.
Usually, these people pay the least, which I find hilariously predictable.
When you reach a certain level of income (where you can save and pay your bills), ditch the low-pay, high-stress folks!
9. Pro: You can choose your office chair.
You can. And I’ve written about it.
Get a comfortable one, when you can afford it. Your back will thank you.
Con: You are going to put more wear and tear on your home furniture.
It’s also likely that you’ll have a higher utility bill each month. I’ll be curious to see how this recent pandemic impacts whether bosses are asked to pay for utility bills at apartments, if people continue to work from home for a lot longer.
10. Pro: You can decide when to take breaks and how long a break you want to take.
Go for a run for an hour, then come back to work.
I could never do that at the office. Now I can!
Con: If you’re not good at managing your time, it can be easy to take too long a break.
…and end up overworked at the end of the day.
Cause you thought I was just going to stop at 10 major pros and cons of freelancing, didn’t you? Nope! Here’s more…
Pro: You are your own boss.
And you get to micromanage yourself!
Con: You’re responsible for a lot of things that companies might otherwise pay for.
These may include bonuses, benefits, retirement funding, etc. If that’s a dealbreaker – freelancing might not be for you!
I personally love freelancing. I know there are a lot of pros and cons to it, and it’s not for everyone.
You have to source your own work.
Sometimes you might go a few weeks without a job, and then all your clients will want something done within 48 hours.
That happens to me a lot – the old adage “when it rains it pours” is no more true than in freelancing.
However, keep in mind:
For those who like personal freedom and scheduling ability, there’s no better type of work.
And, another bonus – you can devote time to your hobbies and education, without needing to ask for permission.
Just don’t miss those important deadlines!
What do you love about freelancing? What do you struggle with? Comment below and let me know!