The Average Freelancer Makes $93 per Hour, Study Shows. Is Freelancing Right for You?

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KEY POINTS

  • Freelance workers and full-time employees often have very different work lives.
  • A study found that freelancers were 29% more likely than full-time employees to make $100 or more hourly.
  • Find out what financial and lifestyle considerations you should make before becoming a freelance worker.


Does becoming a freelancer work for your lifestyle and finances?

For many, the freelance lifestyle is ideal. It can provide more flexibility and offers workers more freedom to choose how they spend their time and what projects they take on. If you've never been a freelancer, you may wonder whether this work situation could be financially beneficial or if it's the right career move for you.

While results vary, many freelancers make a comfortable living doing their work. But becoming a freelancer may mean adjusting your entire lifestyle.

Joblist polled full-time employees and full-time freelancers to get a better look at how their lifestyles compared. The Joblist study examined things like income, hours, lifestyle, and fulfillment.

It turns out there were big differences in how workers lived and worked.

Average hourly earnings for freelancers is $93

Based on the study findings, full-time freelancers have higher average hourly earnings than full-time employees.

The study found that the average hourly earnings for employees is $72, while the average hourly earnings for freelancers is $93. Another notable finding is full-time freelancers were 29% more likely to make $100 or more per hour. These are great rates, but not common for newbies.

A big thing to keep in mind is that freelancers have different tax responsibilities. Freelance income arrives pre-tax -- so workers must set aside income for their taxes and prepare accordingly. It's best to make quarterly tax payments to avoid penalties.

Additionally, freelancers are responsible for investing in their own benefits, while full-time employees can often take advantage of healthcare and retirement perks as part of their job.

Freelancers must also prepare for sick days and vacation time. They don't get paid when they're not working, so they have to set extra money aside for these situations (or be okay with no pay).

Working hours vary for freelancers

This study found that freelancers tend to have inconsistent schedules.

Freelancers were 50% more likely than full-time employees to put in ten or more hours on an average working day. The study also found that freelancers were twice as likely to work six hours or less than full-time employees on other days.

The times of day worked can also vary. While most full-time employees work a typical 9-to-5 schedule, many freelancers work less traditional hours. This benefits some freelancers who may feel more productive during non-traditional hours.

A significantly positive finding of the study is freelancers tend to have more time to focus on non-work activities and personal commitments. For many, that is a huge win.

Joblist found that freelancers were almost twice as likely to make regular time each week for social activities. Only one in four full-time employees could say the same.

Take a look at your finances before becoming a freelancer

If you're thinking of switching to freelance work life, you want to make sure that the lifestyle will work out well for you. While it works for many, it's not the best solution for all.

It can be a big transition going from having a boss in charge of you to controlling your schedule and workload entirely on your own. For some freelancers, sticking to a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule may work best when they first begin.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I take charge and stay on track with my work goals?
  • Do I have the ability to avoid distractions throughout the day?
  • Am I self-motivated or do I need direction?
  • How much do I want to work?

You should also plan out your finances as a freelancer. If you're just starting out, you should figure out how much money you can make and whether you can continue to cover your bills.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Will you be able to pay all of your living expenses during the first few months?
  • How much money do you need to make to live comfortably?
  • Will you be able to cover additional expenses like health care costs?
  • Do you have an emergency fund to cover unexpected costs that may come up?

If you don't have an emergency fund, now is a good time to open a savings account and start making regular contributions to your savings.

The freelance life can be an excellent financial and lifestyle change, but it is an adjustment. If you're unsure whether you can bring in enough income as a new freelancer, one option is to begin freelancing part-time while you still have a full-time job. Many freelancers start this way.

Check out our personal finance resources for additional tips related to essential money matters.

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