If this COVID-19 pandemic has taught our business economy one lesson, it’s that freelancing is more than just a viable option—it’s an absolute mainstay. As of 2020, 59 million Americans have joined the freelance workforce, and 36 percent of those freelancers do so full-time. In addition, over half of all office employees, who started working from home in the pandemic, want to transition into the freelance world on a more permanent basis.
It might interest you to know that The SunDaze Journey is backed by a crew of freelancers. In fact, Alexis Carthan, the brains behind our platform, launched her full-time freelance career right before the pandemic struck (listen to her reflect on this major “leap of faith” in an episode of The SunDaze Journey Podcast). Talk about wild, ironic timing!
So as freelance professionals ourselves, we’re here to offer you an inside glimpse of what this career path entails. Sure, it has some clear advantages, but it’s not all “work in your pajamas” either. The freelance life requires self-motivation, discipline, time management and continual preparation. So before you trade in that office job for the role of independent contractor, here are a few pros and cons to examine first. These will help you make an informed decision about whether freelancing is the ideal move for you.
Pros of a Full-Time Freelance Career
The Option to Create a Schedule that Works for You
Most freelancers are drawn to this occupation because of the flexibility it provides. As long as you meet all client deliverables and expectations within the time allotted, it’s your choice how to schedule the work itself. Rather than a traditional nine-to-five structure, you can grind whenever you’re in an optimal state of focus and productivity with minimal distractions or non-work obligations to derail you. It’s both convenient and empowering to be in control of your own schedule—especially when other areas of life need your attention as well.
The Freedom to Do What You Are Passionate About
Artistic types often choose the freelance route in order to turn their passions into an actual profession. This is the reason you’ll tend to see writers, designers, website developers, social media marketers, photographers and other creatives in some kind of freelance job. These industries are suited to freelancing because it’s less expensive for most companies to outsource creative services from a contract worker than it is to hire someone for the same role in-house. Keep this in mind if you’re passionate about one of those particular fields.
The Ability to Execute Your Projects from Anywhere:
As last year proved, the remote life is not only more accessible than we as a culture once thought—it’s also what a large number of the workforce actually prefers. Almost one quarter of U.S. employees want to maintain their remote status long-term and work in whatever location they desire, whether it’s a couch or a coffee shop. The transient ease that freelancing allows is my absolute favorite perk. Anywhere an internet connection exists can become a virtual office (Fact: one time I worked at a poutine café while on vacation in Montreal).
Cons of a Full-Time Freelance Career
The Fluctuating Nature of Your Income or Workload
Now for the drawbacks—freelancing can be unstable, and there’s no way around it. Sometimes you could average 12-hour workdays with numerous deadlines looming on the horizon, while other times, you could be desperate for enough projects just to cover a month’s rent. The reality of a freelancer is sporadic. Some clients abruptly shelf an assignment or even a whole contract. Some potential leads fall through the cracks. Some jobs don’t yield much of a financial return. Not to mention, there’s no security of a benefits package to depend on.
The Complications of Filing Self-Employment Taxes
You will often hear current freelancers remark, “It’s the best job ever…until tax season, that is.” In fact, I would assert, taxes are the main deterrent in this career path. Independent contractors file under the 1099 self-employment bracket which means that your taxable income is not removed from a paycheck, as it would be in a traditional W-2 position. You are responsible for making those deductions yourself in the form of IRS payments each quarter. Freelancing does allow for certain write-offs though, which can help with your tax refund.
The Lack of Social Interaction or Team Camaraderie
Even if you collaborate with a team of other remote freelancers, most of this work is done solo in front of your computer screen with minimal human interaction. Sure, you’ll exchange emails with a client, respond to messages on a Slack channel or join an occasional video conference, but it’s rare to have the same interpersonal work connections as a freelancer that you might be used to in the office. Social isolation is the most serious challenge that remote workers face—here in the U.S., loneliness is even being called an epidemic now.
As with any job, freelancing has its equal share of both pros and cons. On one end of the spectrum, you can’t beat the convenience and flexibility. But on the flipside, there are some definite obstacles you’ll need to take into account.
Ultimately, it all comes down to preference: are the logistical (and often financial) trade-offs worth it to you in order to have ownership of your time, location, assignments and other priorities? If so, this freelance life just might be the career transition you’ve been looking for. We at The SunDaze Journey are fans of it at least!