If you’re sceptical of self-employment, you’re not alone. It’s not always just a case of being able to work for yourself, and there is a lot more to consider than freedom and flexibility! If you find yourself wondering, “Is freelancing worth it?” then read on to find out why it might be worth it for you, and why it might not be.
What Is Freelancing?
Freelancing is working for yourself, and is therefore a form of self-employment. Very simply, you work with clients, rather than being employed by a company. As such, if you’re an introvert, hate being bossed around, or just want to work from home, you might want to try freelancing. However, freelancing is not an easy way out of the 9-5. Only self-motivated and goal-driven individuals can succeed as freelancers.
Do Freelancers Make Good Money?
Freelancers can make good money, but freelancer salaries depend on a lot of different factors. The main factors are your niche or industry, how much you charge of course, and what kind of demand there is for your services.
Is Freelancing Worth It?
Freelancing is worth it, in most cases. If you don’t like the idea of working for people, or have struggled with this in the past, it may be the right choice for you. In a typical 9-5 job, you get told what to do. However, this is not the case as a freelancer. You choose who to work with and have a say in what you do. Instead of getting a fixed rate, paid by the hour, you earn money based how much work you do. Obviously you might charge an hourly rate, but that in itself is something you decide. This freedom alone means freelancing is worth it for many people. But there’s more to it than just deciding you don’t want a traditional job, but more on that soon!
Is Freelancing a Good Career Option?
Freelancing is a good career option for those who work hard and don’t work well in a traditional workplace environment. But getting started isn’t always easy, so it’s only going to be worth it if you’re willing to work hard and learn to improve as you go.
My Own Experience
For me, freelancing was not easy at the beginning. Deciding on the right niche was challenging enough, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. I’d say the most difficult part is persisting and refusing to give up, because finding a freelancing gig isn’t easy. It will take time and many rejections to find something that works for you.
I’ve tried almost everything. From freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr to using social media and forum platforms. I even tried content mills just to try and get some work. In the end, what worked for me was applying on job boards like ProBlogger. I sent countless applications to individuals, companies, and agencies until I finally got a job offer.
While this took time and effort, it was definitely worth it. Landing the first few jobs isn’t easy, but it’s not supposed to be! If you think you have the motivation to put up with rejections and limited jobs at the start, freelancing is worth it. But what are some of the other advantages of freelancing that make it worth the hard work?
Advantages of Freelancing
1. Freelancing Flexibility
Freelancing can offer you a lot of flexibility. Since you’re not (usually) meeting someone face-to-face, you can work anywhere and anytime! Of course, this only applies if you’re freelancing online. While in-person freelancing jobs can still offer a lot of flexibility, it’s obviously not quite as flexible as truly remote work. But that depends on the nature of your industry, and is not a caveat of freelancing itself.
If you don’t enjoy dressing up or wearing formal attire, this is definitely an area where freelancing beats the 9-5. You can freelance in whatever attire you want. Also, depending on what you’re offering, you might not have to go to an office to start working.
I usually do my freelance work at my desk, while still in my pyjamas! There’s no need to change into work clothes because there is no freelancer dress code. After all, who’s here to judge where or when you should freelance, or even how you look when freelancing? Getting the work done is all that matters.
2. The Right to Say “No”
As a freelancer, you have the freedom to choose the clients you want to work with. This means you can say “No”, and that won’t really affect your position as a freelancer. There’s nobody there to fire you for turning down a project that doesn’t suit you.
On the other hand, you can’t just reject a task assigned to you when you’re an employee. As an employee, you’re usually paid to follow instructions. You might earn some additional incentives like commission, but generally speaking it’s a case of doing what someone asks you to do. As a freelancer, you’re paid to complete jobs and projects.
The right to say “No” is powerful, but also hard-earned. When I was a rookie in the pool of freelancers, I too didn’t have the chance to say “No”. I took whatever jobs I could, and rejection would mean another day of idling, waiting for someone to say yes to a pitch. Slowly but surely, as the tasks piled up, I realised that being able to reject a task that isn’t worth my time is one of the most important aspects of freelancing.
3. Diverse Opportunities
Freelancing is a somewhat unorthodox industry. Since freelancing is mainly about exchanging services for compensation, the possibilities are endless. All you have to do is find someone willing to pay you for whatever service you’re offering. Businesses and companies can’t really offer that, as they already have a set business model. You might have scope for promotion or to put your own spin on things here and there. But most of the time you won’t have much freedom for diversification.
Freelancing can expose you to a wider range of jobs. For those who don’t fit into mainstream career categories, freelancing offers huge potential.
Disadvantages of Freelancing
1. Finding the Job
Finding my first job was by far my biggest struggle when I stepped into the world of freelancing. It wasn’t the work itself, nor the lack of experience, but the sheer time and effort required to find clients.
Many beginners jump into freelancing, worrying if they are up to the right standards, or if they’ll lose their clients due to their inexperience. In reality, this isn’t an issue to worry about, provided you have the skills to deliver on what you offer your clients. This is also the point where many wannabe freelancers give up. Speaking from experience, I gave up on freelancing twice. However, third time around, I just remained motivated and dedicated, and eventually found clients. If you don’t have resilience, freelancing may not work for you.
2. Hustling 24/7 and Work-Life Balance
Once you get in the motion of freelancing, it can actually be difficult to stop. Beware of overworking yourself, and getting burned out due to too much work, or a constant obsession with finding the next job. Freelancing requires setting your own hours, which is a good thing. But you need to make sure you leave enough time for yourself too. A set 9-5 workday actually works for some people, especially those who struggle with overworking.
Personally, I had a two-week period of overworking. It was a time where I tried taking on as many clients as possible. I was spending hours applying to different positions, and totally neglecting everything else – even my meals! Looking back, was it worth it for just a little extra money? Nope. Hustling too hard with freelancing is a bad route to take. Don’t mistake working hard and seeing growth for overworking and burning out.
3. Inconsistent Work
One of the major downsides to freelancing is the element of uncertainty. Sometimes you have loads of work to complete. Other times, you’re just searching for the next opportunity. When you’re not working you’re not making money. This is especially true for beginners since you won’t have many returning clients to begin with. Many freelancers start with one-off jobs, so the client may or may not come back.
The inconsistency and unpredictability of everything are what makes freelancing unfavourable for some. Most freelancers will experience job droughts at some point. You just have to take it in your stride, and instead of panicking, spend your time doing other meaningful tasks. As long as you put the time and effort in the jobs will come. Patience is key!
Starting a Freelance Business Checklist
To determine whether freelancing is worth it for you, starting a freelance business checklist can be very useful. A freelance business checklist is a list of questions you should ask yourself. Based on your (honest) answers to these questions, you can determine if it’s the right time for you to become a freelancer.
1. What Is the Right Industry for You?
If you have a definite answer to this question, you’re already ahead of many other beginner freelancers out there. With a clear goal you want to accomplish, it’ll be much easier to focus all your attention on reaching that milestone.
Try to incorporate your hard and soft skills into your industry of choice. Try to specialise in this field if you can, and narrow things down. Narrowing down too much isn’t a good idea, but neither is trying to wear too many hats at one time. Once you know your industry, you’re one step closer to becoming a freelancer.
2. What Do You Have to Lose?
Everyone has something to lose, no matter how small. Do you have a decent day job, where you’re already appreciated and rewarded for your hard work? Are you in a senior management role, with tons of experience and lots of people relying on you? Or are you fresh out of college, with fantastic grades and a promising future in a specific field?
Whether it’s time, money, experience, or wasted effort that you have to lose, you have to weigh up the risks of starting afresh as a freelancer. Be prepared to lose everything that you’ve built up, for a chance to excel in the freelancing world. If you think you have too much to lose, consider trying freelancing as a pure side hustle. It’ll still take time and effort to get going, but not going full-time from the start can take a lot of the pressure off.
3. What Type of Person Are You?
Freelancers are self-motivated, hardworking people. You don’t have a boss telling you what to do, or a manager nagging at you to complete a task. Without someone guiding you, you might find out quite quickly that you’re not cut out for managing your own time.
For those who are work-driven and persistent, freelancing may be a viable career path. Unfortunately, if you need someone to constantly push you along, freelancing isn’t the right choice.
4. What Other Commitments Do You Have?
If you already have a job, you might not want to give it up in order to pursue freelancing. Keeping your job and freelancing on the side means you need to make sure you have your priorities in order. If your focus shifts one way or the other, it’s not going to work.
But commitments could involve other things, such as bills to pay or mouths to feed. If you decide to start freelancing, you have to understand that it could take a while before you start earning any money. Can you afford to stop earning money for weeks or even months? If not, freelancing is a risky venture.
Is Freelancing Worth It for You?
These are just some of the things you need to consider before you start freelancing. It really depends on your own situation, plans and desires. If you’re still unsure whether freelancing is right for you, check out this article for more questions to ask yourself before you start. For more articles about freelancing, check out the Sophical Blog!