The Pros and Cons of Freelancing
If you've considered a career change, you may also be planning on going it alone and freelancing. Freelance opportunities have rocketed in the past decade, with the Internet making remote working more viable than ever. Depending on the profession, freelancers can also work on a contractual basis on site. Whichever mode of freelancing you're thinking about, it's always a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons to see whether you're suited to working in this capacity.
PRO: Flexible Working HoursOne extremely attractive advantage of working freelance is that often you will be able to choose what hours you work, particularly when Working From Home. Of course, this also drastically reduces or eliminates your time spent commuting! Often if you are working on a project, you will be given a deadline. This means that you can choose what hours you want to work.
If you're a night owl, you can spend your day working on other projects, hobbies or simply enjoying the 'free time', with evenings spent working. Alternatively, if you wish to cram in lots of work into a 3-day week, it's your prerogative as long as you meet your deadline and deliver quality work.
However, it is important that you are disciplined and motivated enough to work under your own steam. Leaving projects until the last minute can cause all sorts of problems, reduce the quality of the finished product and leave you feeling stressed and tired.
CON: Work is Not Always GuaranteedOne major consideration when going freelance is whether you'll be able to secure enough work to meet your financial needs. You might find that you have to build up a portfolio of clients, or if you're contracting there might be periods in between where you're searching for work.
If you're considering freelancing, then it is a good idea to either take on some part-time work while you build your client base, or have some savings in place as a contingency for any quiet periods. You should also keep your ear to the floor with regard to recessions and economic slowdown, as these can hit freelancers and contractors badly.
PRO: Choosing Your Own WorkAs an established freelancer you may have a steady stream of work coming in, and as a result are able to pick and choose which projects you take on, which projects you sub-contract out, and which you simply pass on. This can also affect your working hours, and gives you control over the type of work you do. If you find you particularly enjoy one subject area, you may be lucky enough to earn enough from accepting only these projects. Likewise, if you enjoy working on a variety of projects, you may be able manage the diversity of your work.
CON: Taking Care of Your Accounts and TaxesAs a freelancer, unless you have your very own accountant, you'll have to take care of your own bookkeeping duties and tax returns. Whether you've set yourself up as a sole trader or limited company, you'll need to be scrupulous with your accounting, as you could be audited at any given time.
New freelancers must register as self-employed within around 3 months of beginning freelance work. If you put off registering, you may find that you incur a penalty fine. You must also make sure that you keep on top of your tax and National Insurance payments. Tax returns can take time and can sometimes prove complicated, however, if your bookkeeping and accounting is orderly, it will be much less of a daunting task.
PRO/CON: You Are Your Own BossBeing your own boss definitely has its plus points. For instance, if you choose to take a few days holiday, you don't have to check with anyone else. There's no set time to get into work, and there's no clock watching, waiting for 5pm to come. You reap the rewards and praise for your work, and don't have to share your profits with anyone else.
However, having no boss to report to or consult can also have its pitfalls. For one, you and you alone will be liable for your reputation and any problems that arise. Your reputation, once dented, may take a long time to recover if you've networked extensively. There will be no one to share the load when the going gets tough, and you may have to deal with problematic or angry clients on your own.
Nevertheless, these are all hypothetical scenarios, and the chances are that if you are dedicated, passionate, motivated and well organised, then you will be able to a make a success out of a career in freelancing.