Recent advancements in technology and a growing distaste for the 9-5 work life has created a boom in the gig economy. The latest figures indicate that there are 56.7 million freelancers in the U.S., which reflects a 3.7 million growth over the last five years. With almost a quarter of the population choosing to ditch their office jobs, it certainly creates the gnawing question in the back of many people’s heads: Is it time to pursue a career as a freelancer?
Only you can answer that question, but here’s a list of the common pros and cons of freelancing for you to consider:
Flexibility in the Gig Economy
Freelance jobs allow you to be flexible in terms of schedule and location — not only do you get to work remotely, but you can even take on jobs from across the globe. This is also a great option for people who have different internal schedules that allow them to be productive. For example, morning people typically get up and work before the break of dawn, while night owls can only function efficiently late in the evening.
Cuts certain costs
In the gig economy, working anywhere affords you the luxury of avoiding commuting and the costs associated with it. Other than fares, gas, or parking, you can also eat in more often — a more affordable option than regularly ordering from restaurants.
Higher pay rates
Many freelance jobs pay above average. Some examples of industries where this is common are graphic design, business consulting, marketing, copy writing, and social media management. A former financial analyst, freelance copywriter David Feldman told CNBC that his annual earnings grew from $24,000 to $125,000 in just three years. This means that if you stick with it long enough, you might just start earning six figures annually.
Working from home means you have more control over your environment, as opposed to office spaces that may not be conducive for productivity and are full of distractions. This can allow you to increase your level of productivity and harness your creativity.
Becoming your own boss
Creating something you can take credit for and getting to call the shots are important points we mentioned in ‘It’s Time to Get a Side Hustle’. True enough, you’ll be rewarded with these privileges when you work independently. You’ll still have an employer — whoever your client is at the moment — but you can choose the direction in which to take your career. You can be picky with the projects you want to do as well as the clients you want to work with.
No fixed income and benefits
Unlike regular employment, your earnings as a freelancer can become unpredictable. There might be months where you’ll be overwhelmed with offers, while there might be periods when the job postings are scarce. In addition, trading your time for money as a freelancer does not allow for scalability. However, this is also an opportunity to learn how to network with people and businesses.
The fact that freelancing is growing exponentially in the country, means some industries will become even more competitive as time goes on. Some of the most in-demand jobs, for instance, are tech-related — especially for positions like software developers and IT experts. Yoss states that only the top 1% of tech talent are picked by leading companies, which is indicative of how cutthroat the industry can be. If you’re still developing your professional skills, you might need more experience to refine your talent, which you can do while working in a traditional office.
You might not be paying gas or bus fares, but running your personal workspace means shouldering business expenses that would otherwise be handled by an employer. Taking all of these into account can help you decide if freelancing is worth exploring.
For some people, working outside of an office is a challenge. Ask yourself, do you have the discipline and motivation to be productive on your own?
Loneliness in the Gig Economy
Are you the type that loves to be around other people? Then working remotely may not be ideal for you. Those long hours alone can create a barrier between work and your social life. To counter this, independent business consultant Larry Alton suggests working in public or in co-working spaces, joining online communities, and socializing with family and friends to fend off the loneliness.
There are many different considerations when starting a freelancing career, but with the right care, self-awareness, and perseverance, you too can figure out how to make the gig economy work for you.