Being a freelancer means facing a number of challenges that salaried workers need not contend with. When you work for yourself, you don't have the security of a steady, predictable paycheck. Rather, your income might fluctuate substantially from month to month, making it difficult to budget on a monthly basis and meet financial obligations. Freelancers also don't get workplace benefits like paid time off, health insurance, and other things salaried employees are privy to. And then there's the whole lack of job security that makes so many people shy away from freelancing.
On the other hand, there are numerous benefits to working for yourself. According to a survey by FlexJobs, these are the top five perks freelancers enjoy.
1. Flexible scheduling
Having a flexible schedule can lead to a better quality of life. The more job-related flexibility you have, the less stressed you'll be about meeting personal obligations, such as maintaining your household and taking care of your family. It's no wonder, then, that 84% of freelancers feel that flexible scheduling is a major benefit they get to enjoy and a good reason to go the freelance route.
2. Work-life balance
Unfortunately, the majority of U.S. employees aren't satisfied with their work-life balance. On the other hand, 66% of freelancers cite a better work-life balance as a perk of being self-employed. The upside of working as a freelancer is getting to set your own schedule and hours, allowing you to carve out enough time to do the other things you want or need to do in life. Salaried employees must often adhere to strict schedules set by their companies or managers, leaving them with little flexibility.
3. Freedom to work anywhere
The ability to do your job from the comfort of home, a nearby coffee shop, or a foreign country means you don't have to compromise your personal life in the course of getting work done. That's why 61% of freelancers say that the ability to work wherever they choose is a perk they enjoy tremendously. And it can be a huge money saver, especially when you factor in the cost of driving to an office and paying for fuel and parking or having to bear the cost of a train or bus pass.
4. Not commuting
Commuting can be more than just expensive; it can be aggravating and stressful. It's not surprising, then, that 60% of freelancers love the fact that they don't have to deal with traffic, crowded buses or trains, and delays in getting to their desks.
It takes discipline to be successful as a freelancer, and 39% of those who work for themselves appreciate the opportunities for self-development along the way. Of course, salaried employees can further their skills as well, but the motivation to do so may be higher for folks whose income hinges on continuously getting better at what they do. Also, freelancers tend to pick up other skills that don't directly relate to their respective lines of work. For example, by going freelance, you might get better at time management, communication, and personal organization.
Making the leap
Clearly there's a lot to be gained by going freelance, so if it's something you've been thinking of, it pays to give it a shot. That said, you don't want to go in blindly. It can take months for freelancers to build up a solid client base, so if you're a salaried employee at present, invest some time in networking and putting out feelers so that by the time you venture out on your own, you have some customers at the ready. At the same time, build a solid emergency fund so you're not so worried about money during those early months, when your workflow might be pretty slow. The more prepared you are, the happier you'll be about your decision to become a freelancer and enjoy the aforementioned perks.