When I graduated college, I didn’t look for a job and started doing freelance web development. Am I better off in the long run?
You ask a question concerning a bigger chunk of the workforce than ever. Studies show that 53 million Americans, a staggering 34 percent of the workforce, are now freelancing, whether it is primary or supplemental income. To determine whether it is the best avenue for you, there are important pros and cons that you should weigh.
The answer to your question is largely down to your personality. There are two entirely different working environments and conditions to consider and with them different earning circumstances. The notion of a ‘job for life’ has largely disappeared and many jobs now are blurring the lines between freelancing and salaried employment.
Probably the biggest advantage touted by those that freelance is flexibility. You are in control of your own workload, the times you devote to working, and the money you earn from it. Want a day off during the week? No problem, just take one. You can pick your own hours, increase or decrease them, choose your assignments and projects, and work around family or social commitments. On the flip side work can pile up so you may end up working through the night or at weekends to meet deadlines.
On the other hand, if you are someone that needs structure and are okay with being tied to a daily schedule that is largely immovable, then a salaried position is the better option. You will have far less flexibility with this and will be effectively chained to your job.
As a freelancer, you will not have to deal with politics and hierarchical bureaucracy that comes with working for larger companies. For the most part, you will be working remotely so will not even have to drive to an office park. Being able to pick and choose your clients will give you the ability to avoid or drop the problematic ones. The caveat with this is that you may have to deal with client’s offices and usually difficult accounting departments.
One major drawback of freelancing is the lack of benefits that you often get working at a salaried position. Pension payments, health insurance, parental leave, paid vacation and other company perks are luxuries and you will need to learn to live these. Since you are on your own as a freelancer, you will need to manage these things yourself if you need them. This is one of the main downsides of freelancing.
Working for a company you will have a boss who will be telling you what to do and when to do it. You will have to work within the rules of the organization and they will not be flexible. In most instances, you will have very little control over your work conditions. Freelancing does not have these restrictions, you are your own boss, and you have total control over your work life.
You wrote that you are freelancing for web development of 360 Video. The major web powers consider this an emerging consumer preference for video presentation. However, if the rate of adoption is slower than expected, you may suddenly find yourself playing a waiting game with your income. In larger companies, you are more insulated from the market and get a steady paycheck that freelancing does not provide.
Motivation differs working at a company, it may seem like a daily grind at times, and your only motivation to get out of bed sometimes will be not to get fired. As a freelancer, you will be motivating yourself, you will be the master of your own domain, if you have the personality for it freelancing could be for you.
The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps… Robert Benchley.
Written by John Regan, former Director of Sales, for equity research.