The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a great shift in the priorities of the workforce. People are no longer just looking for fair wages. They are also looking for work flexibility.
Because of the pandemic experience, people have realised that there is more to life than just working eight hours a day, five days a week.
People want to earn a living, but they also want to spend more time with family, friends, and loved ones. People want to be great at work, they want to grow, but they also want it to be meaningful.
And in the pursuit of work-life balance, people started to search for flexibility and better opportunities, ushering in “The Great Resignation.”
In 2021, millions of people resigned in the United States. Workers in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom followed suit. Soon enough, it became a global phenomenon.
Many of the workers who joined the global mass resignation phenomenon still looked for full-time jobs, but a sizable number were also considering taking on projects on a freelance basis.
What is freelance work?
In a nutshell, a freelancer is an independent contractor who earns money on a per-project or per-task basis, which allows him to take more control of his schedule.
Freelancers usually take on multiple projects on a short-term basis, charging their clients using fixed rates, per-hour, per-day, or per-project fees, depending on the contract.
Freelance work is lucrative, especially in the post-pandemic world, because it allows a person to work remotely, select projects to take on, and pretty much manage the schedule freely.
There is no need to clock in and clock out for work if you are a freelance worker. You just need to finish the projects on time.
Reports by an online freelance work platform showed that freelancers contributed $1.3 trillion to the US economy in 2021, which is $100 million higher than the year before.
More than half of the freelancers in the US provide skilled services, such as marketing, programming, and business consulting.
While freelancing is pretty much the dream of workers who want flexibility and work-life balance, it has some disadvantages as well.
Before you decide if independent contracting is for you, let us first take a closer look at the pros and cons of freelancing.
The pros of freelance work
Control your earnings and workload
Don’t get it wrong, freelancing is per-project work, but it doesn’t mean the pay is small. In fact, freelancers often earn more because they can take on multiple tasks with pay.
In a full-time job, you may be asked to take on multiple tasks or projects, but your pay stays the same. In freelance work, each project or task you finish is paid.
If you’re planning to save for a vacation, you can spend the next few weeks taking on multiple high-paying projects. If you just need some cash for daily expenses, you can reduce the projects you take.
Moreover, if you have the expertise and experience in your field, you can even charge higher than the industry average.
With freelance work, you control how you want to earn. Many companies are looking for freelancers, and it’s up to you to make your pitch.
Work at your own pace
It goes without saying that by freelancing, you get the flexibility you want with your schedule, which means you can spend more time with your loved ones.
Because you are your own boss, you get to set agreed deadlines and pacing with your clients, which allows you to manage your time better.
Some freelancers take advantage of this freedom by spending some of their open time attending lectures and training sessions to improve their skills and position themselves higher in the market.
Work anywhere you want
Many freelancers are considered “digital nomads,” which means they travel from time to time while they do their work.
Why not? Freelancing allows you to work remotely. As long as there is a way to submit your work and communicate with your clients, you can pretty much work anywhere.
If your family is out on vacation, you can still join them and carry your work as well. You can work for a couple of hours in the morning., try the pool, eat with everyone, and get back to work in the afternoon.
Get exposed to diverse clients
Freelancing will take you places. You will be able to work with business leaders from different industries where you can learn a lot.
If you deliver exceptional results, your clients might even refer you to business leaders within their own network.
Getting exposure to different kinds of leaders will help you in many ways. The trade secrets you can learn might even push you in a different direction.
Start your own business
Imagine having mastered the art of freelancing. You are consistently delivering results, and you have a large network of clients who need your services time after time.
If you begin making a name with your service because of the way you perform, you may attract a sizeable demand that would be enough to start a small business.
Freelancing is fun, but it’s being a business owner will also get you somewhere higher and closer to your lifelong dreams.
The cons of freelancing
One of the biggest downsides of freelancing is the lack of benefits. Unlike full-time employees, you don’t get to have company-sponsored healthcare plans, paid vacation leaves, or retirement benefits.
If, for some reason, you catch bad flu, there will be no one to take your place, and the work you leave will just pile up.
You are literally left to your own devices because no company will provide you with equipment. You will have to spend a lot of money to make sure all your devices and tools are upgraded.
Do your own tax
When you are a full-time worker, your taxes are usually automatically deducted from your basic salary. In freelance work, you would have to do your own tax.
While it is true that you are your own boss in freelancing, it is equally true that you have to act as your own HR and Finance departments.
You would have to take care of your taxes, healthcare, and more. You would have to track and manage the cash flow to make sure you are earning correctly.
Projects can be scarce
There will be times when it is difficult to look for clients, which can be bad for freelancers who take on short-term projects for flexibility.
When you are just starting freelance work, expect projects to be scarce in the first few months, though it can get better when you start to make a name for yourself.
The downside of freelancing, however, is you’ll never know when to expect downtimes because it can pretty much happen at random.
Multitasking can be a challenge
Managing multiple projects can be a challenge. While you are free to manage your own schedule, it is still hard to do multiple tasks for different clients within the same period.
The good news, though, is that there are many productivity apps available to help you manage your projects.
Is freelancing the right choice?
There is no one answer to the question if freelancing is the right direction to take. Even if you are looking for flexibility, you need to consider your needs and your current situation.
For example, if you are the sole provider for the family and you need to pay bills on time, freelance work can be unreliable because there will be times when projects are scarce.
Freelance may also not be the best setup for you if you have dependents that need health cards and other benefits that a company can provide.
In situations like these, when you want flexibility but you can’t compromise some of the benefits of full-time work, the best thing to do is to find an organisation that offers hybrid work arrangements.
Hybrid work has become more common in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic because organisations are now acknowledging the employees’ need for flexibility.
Having a good-paying permanent job with flexible schedules, benefits, and paid leave benefits wouldn’t be a bad option anyway.
Freelancing can also fail. So, before you go freelancing, think twice and thrice because it’s a commitment that you need to sustain for a long time.