According to MSN Money this week, freelancing is “the future of work.”
New employer businesses have declined 27 percent since 2006, but if you count newly self-employed people in the sample of startups, the numbers have stayed the same and, in some cases, even increased. Many of these self-employed talent have been freelancers all along, but there are large numbers of unemployed creatives taking their skills and starting their own businesses.
Technology and globalization have made it possible for “solopreneurs” to launch their own businesses with greater ease. And in today’s job market, especially for recent grads and older workers, “solopreneurship” might be the best option for making a living.
But freelancing is not for everyone. Whether freelancing is the right option for you depends on a lot of factors, some of which are very personal.
Here are some of the pros and cons to help you figure out whether freelancing life is right for you:
• Flexibility – Want to work mornings and evenings, but not afternoons? Need to take care of your children or want to volunteer twice a week? You can make your own schedule if you work for yourself. If you want time to work on your personal projects, you can fit those in, too. Flexibility usually means a better work-life balance.
• Environment – Working from home allows you to work where you’re most comfortable and with all of your favorite equipment, software and set-up. No commute means you also lower your carbon footprint.
• Fill in the gaps on your resume – If you’re looking for a full time job, freelancing is a good way to keep your skills up-to-date and keep your resume from developing a lot of white space. Partnering with a freelance recruiting firm that specializes in your area can help add potential clients and projects to your resume as well.
• Save money – Gas, wardrobe, lunches – all things you don’t have to purchase often when you’re working for yourself. There are also many great tax benefits available, depending on how you set up your business (we advise that you see a Tax Specialist who has worked with Independent Contractors or Sole Proprieters for more information).
• No micromanagement – With no boss looking over your shoulder, you can have less stress and be more focused on the project at hand.
• Choice – As the sole creative in charge of your craft, you have the freedom to work on only the projects that inspire you. Never again do you have to accept projects that you find tedious or unpleasant.
That all sounds great, doesn’t it? However, there can be a downside to freelancing:
• No benefits – When you’re not working – you’re not getting paid. No more discounted or free health insurance or 401K contributions. These items are all out of pockets expenses for which you are now directly responsible.
• No steady income – If you are providing a valuable service and marketing yourself well, you should be making money. But it can take time to build a stable of clients. And even then, your clients’ needs can change during certain times of the month or seasonally. If that makes you nervous, you might want to keep your cubicle for a while longer.
• No accountability – While to freedom to self-manage is great, if you have trouble staying on-task or delivering to deadline when not managed, you will have trouble being a freelancer. Excellent discipline and time-management skills are key to keeping your clients happy!
• Interruptions – Anyone who has worked from home and has a family or roommate can tell you stories about how they are always interrupted. Setting boundaries with those you live with is essential to successful freelancing.
• The buck stops here – If your clients need something right away or there is a problem with something you have produced, it’s your job to take care of it. Sometimes that means late nights or early mornings to ensure everything is done on time.
If you enjoy working independently, can handle a little uncertainty, and are comfortable marketing yourself for new work, freelancing could be a great choice for you.
If you like a lot of guidance or interaction, need a steady income, and/or want to close your laptop every day at 5, keep looking for that traditional role.
Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative