Freelancing: sounds like everyone’s dream right? No daily commute into work, no boss hovering over your shoulder, being able to work in pajamas from bed, and spend half the day shopping on Amazon or catching up on Facebook? Sounds ideal. Unfortunately, like with all things, it is not entirely as it seems. Though there are many perks to being a freelancer, there are also numerous disadvantages.
I am sure many are wondering, “What could be so bad about working from home, being your own boss, working in your pajamas from bed?” The simple answer is nothing is necessarily bad about it. It is, however, much more work than appearances would have one believe. It isn’t about putting out an ad or two and waiting for traffic to appear on your site. It is not typically a “get rich quick” principle. There is a lot of hard work involved.
I have only made the transition to be a freelancer within the past month myself. In that time, though there has been very little income, the hard work was still put in. Day after day of preparations and even classes and tutorials to relearn old skills and obtain new ones. The process is still ongoing. So what exactly are some of the pros and the cons of being a self-employed freelancer or contractor?
Be your own boss:
Pros – Yes. You can indeed be your own boss. Any decision made is made entirely by you. Don’t like that color stationary? Gone. Don’t want to have someone constantly checking your work over your shoulder? No more worries! It can be freeing and liberating to know that if you are running a little late because of your toddler, that you won’t get a stern lecture or write-up from your supervisor or boss. You can dress the way you want so long as you don’t need to do any video conferences with clients or customers.
–Cons – So what could be a con to being your own boss? Well most importantly, is you will be handling your taxes each year, and I do not mean inputting a simple W-2 into some form of tax software. Freelance work involved documents such as 1099-NECs, or tracking expenses incurred (buying business cards, art supplies, a website, starting costs, cellphone usage, etc). No one can do that for you when you are a freelancer unless you hire a tax specialist or n accountant. Every receipt needs to be maintained for tax purposes, not just for filing taxes, but also in case of IRS audits. It can be daunting, however, with the proper organization will assist with this process.
Finding the Business:
Pros – So I will be first to admit that the major pro for this is something I experienced numerous times in corporate jobs. I cannot even keep track of the number of times I have had a customer I was trying to assist, they ask for something that was unfortunately against company policy, and I was not able or allowed to bend the rules for the customer, I would tell them I cannot do what they are asking because it was against company policy, and they ask for a manager who then gives them whatever they want, making me look like a liar for following protocol.
The most common question always being asked or implied “can I get this item for as little money as possible, maybe even free?” In most corporate jobs, there may be a little leeway to assist a customer or client and maybe give them a discount. Very rarely do corporate jobs allow something to be given away for free, and trying to convey that doing something against company policies and protocols can cost someone their job is nearly impossible at times.
Nevertheless, not having to rely on a manager or supervisor to get permission to assist a customer, or even having the ability to turn away a customer who becomes threatening or unreasonable can be a major pro. You can select the target audience. For example, most historical romance fiction is targeted towards women in their twenties and thirties. However, a freelancer can also write a novel to appeal to slightly older audiences. A freelancer can also choose if they want to sell their artwork on platforms such as Etsy and Fiverr, set up a personal e-commerce shop on their website, self-publish, or even sell items at local fairs and events. The sky is the limit!
Cons – Simply put for this, is two different topics: one being no protection of a corporate policy (unless you and your business eventually become incorporated) or managers to help handle the heat, and the other being knowing where and how to find the clients that will be the foundation for your freelance work. What this means is that you as the freelancer will need to advertise yourself and your skills.
This entails advertising, building profiles on platforms such as Etsy or Fiverr, and putting yourself out there to attract potential clients and customers interested in your set of skills. There are numerous ways to do this and search engines can be a huge help and step in the right direction. Not only can customers search for you as your skills become more known, but you can also search for the markets that offer your set of skills.
The list does continue far beyond this, but this is a good foundation for some of the pros and cons of being a freelancer.