Many people see freelancing as the future of work. As a result, more and more workers, particularly young people, are turning to full-time freelancing to make a living. In addition, the power of the Internet has expanded opportunities for freelancers, who can now work with clients from anywhere in the world and conduct a variety of tasks online.
However, that does not mean that becoming a professional online freelancer doesn’t have its trade-offs. Freelancers face particular challenges that full-time employees do not, such as a lack of stability and certain benefits.
Before becoming a professional online freelancer, you should know the ins and outs of the future you are choosing.
Pros of Being a Professional Online Freelancer
The freelancing lifestyle comes with many benefits, so more and more workers are opting for gig work instead of traditional employment.
Flexibility is one of the primary benefits for professional online freelancers. Freelancers choose which clients they work with instead of relying on a boss to set their tasks. They make their hours, schedule their meetings, and can terminate working relationships at will if they prove to be unfruitful.
The Internet and online work have increased the flexibility that comes with freelancing. This is evident by the rise in digital nomads or people who telecommute from anywhere in the world, thanks to the power of the Internet. The growth of digital nomads has shaped the global travel economy and specific destinations such as Bali.
The flexibility afforded by professional online freelancing also allows people from anywhere to work with top clients, potentially opening up new opportunities for people outside the Global North.
Work Becomes Exciting
One of the advantages of freelancing is that you can shape your career instead of relying on a boss or office hierarchy. You get to work on projects that you are interested in instead of ones that a higher-up dictates. Being a professional online freelancer is one of the best ways to get paid for pursuing your passions.
Freelancing also allows you to try out as many tasks as possible or work with different industries instead of the narrow scope often defined by full-time work. For example, suppose you are interested in both graphic design and copywriting. In that case, you can offer both services to your clients, while a company might only allow you to pursue one interest as an employee. You can also work with clients from many different industries depending on your interests instead of limiting yourself to one line of work.
Professional Freelancing Can Make Financial Sense
The stereotype of freelancers as permanently broke is not always true. Instead, freelancing could be an opportunity to earn more than you would as a full-time employee in your field. A survey by ZipRecruiter found that freelancers had a higher average salary than salaried workers in most countries. The reason why is that freelancers get to set their rates, so you can charge as much as you think you deserve.
Your first few years as a professional freelancer may be lean until you build up experience and a roster of regular clients. However, once you can establish yourself as an expert in your field, you can set your rates as high as you want because clients will appreciate your expertise.
Besides earning you more money, freelancing helps you save money by cutting down on commuting costs and even the cost of buying a separate work wardrobe.
Cons of Professional Online Freelancing
However, freelancing is not all fun and games. There are a few drawbacks to being a professional online freelancer that you should know before quitting your day job.
Freelancers Have Fewer Benefits
While freelancers earn more than full-time employees, they lack some of the benefits that salaried workers have. For example, employee benefits such as a 401k paid time off and holidays are unavailable for most freelancers. As a freelancer, you’re responsible for budgeting your holidays and planning your retirement.
Freelancers are also not eligible for employer-based health insurance. But, again, this is mainly a problem for US-based freelancers, where health insurance plans for self-employed people are often complicated and expensive.
You Have to Do Everything
When you’re a freelancer, you don’t have the luxury of relying on other people in your office to take care of tasks that you don’t want to do. As a result, you’re not only responsible for completing your tasks but also the admin, logistical, and financial tasks that help keep your business running.
You can outsource specific tasks, such as your taxes, to a paid professional like an accountant. However, you are still responsible for budgeting for the expense of outsourcing and managing those tasks.
There Is Less Stability
The trade-off of the flexibility of working as a professional online freelancer is the lack of stability. You can choose which clients you work with, but they can also choose to terminate their working relationship with you with little notice. Many freelancers struggle with meeting their financial goals and chasing down invoices, particularly at the beginning of their careers.
Most freelancers spend a portion of their workday chasing down leads on new clients instead of completing work with existing clients. If you are not ready to hustle for new work all the time or you don’t have a financial cushion to get you through unstable periods, then freelancing may not be a good choice.
Is Professional Online Freelancing Worth it?
Professional online freelancing comes with specific challenges, such as instability, more responsibility, and fewer benefits than salaried workers. However, there are also advantages to full-time freelancing, such as flexibility, more exciting work, and the potential to earn a higher salary.
Every freelancer’s situation is different, and for many people, the trade-offs of freelancing are worth it for the personal and career growth they experience.