With 2 million freelancers in the UK (16% of the working population) contributing £119 billion to the economy, there’s no time like the present to join in their lot. Before you decide though, it’s a good idea to understand more about what the pros and cons of a freelance career are before you determine whether it is the right decision for you.
Pros of Freelancing
Flexibility of Time
Whether it’s working for most of the year and jetting off to avoid the cold, winter months, or getting the bulk of your work done in the morning before the kids come home from school, a freelance career gives you the opportunity to be flexible with your time.
Choosing your Work
Freelancing offers you the ability to decide what projects you work on and which clients you work with enabling you to do what you know best or experience a variety of experiences. It can also provide you with the opportunity to take on as little or as much work as you desire.
You can work from home, rent a shared office space or spend your working days in a cafe if you are freelancing. You can also choose what time you want to dedicate to your working life.
Lack of a Commute
With the average UK working commuting 58 minutes twice a day, freelancing gives you and extra two hours to spend freely, whether it’s to focus on your exercise regime, a hobby or looking after your family. You’ll also cut back on your commuting expenses which are expensive - the average commuter spends £146 a month!
Freelancing does often come with a higher salary, which can be great for your bank balance. However, this also comes with a lack of private healthcare, holiday pay, national insurance and pension payments and other perks. Make sure you buy into some of these as well as put some money away in the bank to give you some security, especially for the lean months when the work dries up.
Avoiding the Crowds
If you fancy going on holiday you can just up sticks without giving your boss any warning. Move your working hours around so you can meet your friend for lunch, go out for the day or avoid the commuting traffic jams which will all miraculously give you more hours in the day and make for a more enjoyable life.
Cons of Freelancing
Admin & Taxes
As a freelancer, it’s your job to make sure that the company pays you via an invoice and in some cases, the client might not pay on time or even pay at all. In building your brand, you’ll have to work on your social media and
You’ll also have to keep track of your expenses and prepare quotes. On top of that, you’ll have to fill in the dreaded tax and VAT returns, the bane of any freelancer’s life, which may just make you want to pull your hair out.
No Regular Income
Finding ideal work and regular clients is one of the difficulties of freelancing. Companies often have either too much work on or not enough, and being freelance means that you take the brunt of this when there is no work available. This up and down cycle can make budgeting difficult, so remember to save some money when times are good.
As much as you originally thought that working by yourself is something you enjoy, you will miss the camaraderie of a team and colleagues. You may be able to improve things by spending some days in your clients’ offices, finding a local co-working space, or banding together with other freelance friends.
Lack of Benefits
Unlike salaried employees, freelancers don’t receive benefits. This means that when you are ill you don’t continue to get paid, which is especially worrying for long-term sickness, and you also don’t receive pay while you are on holiday.
Another big one is the lack of pension. You can, and should, set one up for yourself, however it won’t be as generous as an employers as you won’t receive the additional money they give you.
Lack of Structure
While it may sound great that you can roll out of bed at any time of the day, having deadlines in the distant future can mean that you spend your working days procrastinating. So it’s even more important that you create a schedule and to-do list as well as set yourself goals so that you can focus on getting the work done.