Over a third of the workforce in the US are freelancers (59 million people); what’s even more is that this figure is projected to reach more than half the workforce by 2027 – that’s 86.5 million people in five years’ time.
Anyone that’s taken the step into freelancing knows that it is an incredibly rewarding career. It allows you complete control of your workload, choose your clients, and decide how much time you dedicate to working and how much to leisure time. This level of freedom and control is unparalleled and doesn't exist in many other careers.
If you've been considering freelancing and stepping out as an independent worker, be it on a part-time basis or as a full-time job, you’ve probably got a multitude of questions; not least wanting to know what is so great about freelancing in comparison to a 9-5 job. So, if you’re still ‘sitting on the fence’ about whether to start freelancing or not, we’ve put together what we believe are the top ten reasons why freelancing is better than any 9-5 job to help convince you.
You're the Boss
How many times have you worked overtime work because your boss didn't manage their schedule effectively, or been micro-managed? Probably too many to count but that’s not say you won’t be working any overtime, long hours or have to deal with weird requests when you are a freelancer; the likelihood is that you will. But the difference with freelancing and a 9-5 job is that you are your own boss running your own business so you decide if you want to (or need to) work those extra hours. We’ll let you into another little secret about freelancing and working longer hours, you get paid for it! Not every 9-5 job pays you for overtime, particularly office-based jobs.
Another benefit of being the boss is that you won't get into trouble for running a quick errand or going to the doctor's in the middle of the day. You get to make all the decisions and control your remote work, which is empowering.
Set Your Work Hours
It’s a drag having to be at your desk by 9am and you’re not allowed to go home until 5pm; that’s for a typical 9-5 job, some jobs are longer hours. When you step into the world of independent working, you set your working hours in a way that best supports the freelance lifestyle you want to lead. For example, if you work better in the morning, organize your schedule so you're done by 2pm every day. Alternatively, if you’ve got the school run to do, schedule your working hours around it. In the 9-5 world, there aren’t many jobs that allow for this level of flexibility.
You might find that you work better in blocks of time, particularly if your work is centered round using a computer or laptop. From a health and wellbeing point of view, it is better to schedule your work day into scheduled time slots. For example, working for two hours at a time with regular breaks in between is not only better for your health; it also provides a much better work-life balance (it’s a good idea to take out health insurance when you’re a freelancer to make sure you’re covered should you be in ill-health and unable to work for a period of time).
Freedom to Work From Anywhere
Any freelancer will tell you that one of the best aspects to freelancing is being able to work from anywhere, as long as you have a reliable internet connection. Even that is easier in today’s digital world by using a mobile internet connection. So, as long as you are in an area that has 3G, 4G or 5G, plug in your mobile dongle and away you go!
The majority of freelance work today is done online, or digitally, although there are some occasions when your multiple clients may require you to work within a commutable distance from their offices. You can choose to work from a local coffee shop, from a dedicated flexible office space that you can scale up or down according to your needs or even go to another country; anywhere in the world can be your office. If you love traveling, a freelancing career is a great way to support a nomadic lifestyle.
Do the Work You Love
A problem with many 9-5 jobs is that it’s a mix of projects you love and projects you hate. Then there's office politics, maintaining your working relationship with your boss, and perhaps even worse, working for a company who doesn't appreciate your hard work. A great aspect to freelancing is that you have freedom. You get to choose your own projects you really want to work on and refuse the ones that don’t appeal to you. You make your own decisions and choose projects that you like. Managing your work commitments allows you some free time in your life.
For many freelancers, if you're approached for a project that doesn't sound like it’s going to be much fun or fulfilling, you are under no obligation to agree to do it. Because you’re the boss, the decision lies with you; everything is your decision and there are so many different freelance jobs to choose from on so many job sites, so you can focus on the projects that really interest you as well as those you are passionate about.
We make the differentiation here because there will be jobs that are in alignment with your personal ambitions, and there will be multiple projects that might not be anything to do with what you love but they are interesting, expansive and give you an opportunity to experience something different.
Take Control of Your Future
When you work for someone else, you're at their mercy, literally in some cases! If there are budget cuts, your job could be on the chopping block. But with freelancing, this isn't the case. For example, if you lose a client it's possible to quickly score another without the lost client having an impact on your daily schedule or your financial obligations. You're in charge of your future so you don't need to depend on some big corporation.
You decide the projects you work on, the flexible hours you work, who you work with, how much you earn, your work-life balance; while the buck stops with you, it also gives you the freedom to control your own destiny.
Earn More Than a Salaried Job
We get that a 9-5 job gives you that income security; you know what you’re being paid every month which makes budgeting easier. But have you ever sat down and worked out how much you actually earn per hour? We bet that you’ll it’s less than you thought. A full-time salaried job with benefits might sound appealing but as a freelancer, there's even higher earning potential.
With a salaried job, your rate is set. With freelancing, you can continue onboarding prospective clients and earning money as long as you can keep up with the workload, albeit there is often a slow start until you have built up a decent list of clients that are sending you regular work.
In general, whether you charge by hour, by project or by day, freelance work brings in a higher income and profit. An added benefit is that as a freelancer, you usually have much lower overheads, particularly if you work from home, and you’re not paying any staff and the costs that come with that (even if you outsource some of the work to another independent worker who is perhaps more experienced than you on a specific task). This means that even if you have to adjust your fees to fit a client’s budget – only do this if they are a regular client or it is a project you particularly want to work on – you are able to generate a greater profit margin.
Of course, there are the tax benefits to being self-employed as a freelancer, too. Being able to reclaim back business expenses, such as travel costs, a proportion of your utility bills if you work from home, your internet and business phone, or take advantage of tax write-offs can be a major financial benefit to work independently.
As a freelancer, your earning potential is uncapped. If you need to earn more money, you either up your rates, increase your client list or target higher value clients. Although you have to consider market conditions, most freelancers find that they raise their rates in line with their increasing experience, skills and reputation.
Build Up Your Confidence
Freelancing can be daunting, time-consuming and when you first start, we’ll be honest – it can be scary! As an independent worker running your own freelance business and managing your own clients means wearing a multitude of hats at any time of the day. But the more you persevere, the more you learn and the greater your confidence.
You're in charge of everything — managing expectations, communicating with clients, delivering great results, invoicing, admin, sourcing new clients and sending proposals, and so much more. With so much responsibility, it can be a bit of a whirlwind to start with but as you master each discipline and develop a format that works for you – using a dedicated freelance platform, like Indy, can help you streamline many of your roles – you will gain valuable experience, boosting your confidence in yourself and your abilities.
You'll Learn A Lot
Usually, in a 9-5 job working for a company, there are people in charge of every department who utilize their specific knowledge and skills to that role. But when you freelance, you are all the departments, meaning you need the knowledge of each department’s tasks. Now when you start freelancing, it can be a lot to take on all at once but as you learn, your knowledge becomes invaluable.
Freelancing gives you the opportunity to learn and expand your skill set, and that includes the skills you started with. You will learn something from every project or freelance job you take on, which means you take that new knowledge, those new skills, to the next project. Not only does this help you complete the next task more successfully, but it also opens up greater opportunities and the ability to take on more complex or a bigger variety of jobs.
But expanding your skill set is not just limited to the work you do; you will also be learning about bookkeeping and accounts, admin tasks and creating proposals that are accepted, building excellent working relationships with clients that lead to more work and referrals, the list really is never-ending.
Don’t forget that you can also take a proactive approach to learning and improving your skillset by enrolling for online courses – there are so many opportunities for online learning – all you need to do is identify the skills you want to develop and set aside the time to learn.
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A Work-Life Balance That Suits You
We all have a life outside of our work; the problem with a 9-5 job is that it’s restricted to evenings and weekends. But with a freelancing career, you can fit your family and social life around your work schedule.
If you want to go to a weekly morning networking group (networking is one of the best ways to build awareness and clients), or get together with friends for coffee and chat, do the school run or go to your children’s sports day, take time out during the school holidays or jet off for a few days; it really is up to you
That’s not to say being an independent worker is all play and no work; it’s not and you’ll probably find that there are days when it’s all work and little play. But the benefit is that you are responsible for creating a work-life balance that suits you and your family.
Variety of Work
It can get boring doing the same job day-in, day-out; that’s what many 9-5 jobs offer you but when you are freelancing, there is a much greater opportunity to be involved with a much wider variety of work types. You could be working on marketing project for a manufacturing client one day, organizing an event for a banking firm the next, or developing a new website another.
They say variety is the spice of life and that’s applicable to your work life to when you have a rewarding freelance career.