Breaking into Freelancing: Do You Have What It Takes?

Freelancing seems like an enticing job option and the perfect alternative to a traditional job in an office setting. However, like every type of job, freelancing, too, comes with its share of benefits and drawbacks. Before you decide to become a freelancer, be sure to consider the following factors.

Choosing Your Own Hours . . . Not Quite

As a freelancer, theoretically, you determine your own hours. You can work in the wee hours of the morning or through the night as you please. If you have children, you have the ability to pick them up from daycare or school, drop them off at their activities, or take them out.

Sure, you work according to your own convenience; however, despite not having a boss, you are still answerable to your clients. Clients may call you through the night, especially if they are in a different time-zone, or while you are supposedly on vacation. Freelancers must be able to provide clients support 24/7. If time is the reason you’re considering freelancing, think again.

Interactions or Lack Thereof

Freelancers are free from the pressures of dealing with any annoying co-workers and nagging bosses in the workplace. Office politics, so to speak, are non-existent in the world of freelancing. However, the flip side of the coin is isolation. Without employees, co-workers, or even bosses, you have no interaction with staff while you work.

If you’re more accustomed to the traditional, interactive workplace, a transition into freelancing might prove difficult for you. After all, as a freelancer, your connections to other professionals will mostly be through social networking, not through live interactions.

Work and Income

You control your own workload as a freelancer. Though sometimes, your schedule depends on the whims and wishes on your clients, usually you are at liberty to take up work when you can and decline it when you’re busy.

But freelancers don’t have anyone pushing them to get work done, per se, so they are responsible for balancing their workload, determining priorities, and sorting deadlines themselves. Remember, the amount of work you take up (or are able to get) is a variable and directly corresponds to your income. A fluctuating income can make financial planning difficult. Read on to find out more about payment.

Payment, Anyone?

Since you receive payment depending on the amount of work completed, the concept of paid time off doesn’t exist. Either you don’t take vacations or you figure out if and how you can be financially stable without an income over the time period you plan to be on vacation. If you’re used to the sick days and vacations as an escape from the daily grind, freelancing could be a challenge.

Also consider the fact that freelancing is equivalent to being self-employment, subjecting you to an extra self-employment tax. Among perks of freelancing, being subject to yet another tax is definitely a downside.

Furthermore, you don’t receive large company perks like bonuses, awards, or employee of the month honors, for instance—definitely something that will be missed by freelancers.

Let Freedom Ring!

Many are lured in by the “freedom” aspect of freelancing, as the name suggests. And sure, as a freelancer, you can virtually do whatever you want (at your own expense, of course). However, freelancing fails to provide job security and you will be burdened with additional responsibilities such as marketing, billing, filing taxes, and accounting, among countless others, to manage singlehandedly.

And with your freelancing freedom comes distractions. While working at your own pace in your own home, or wherever you may be, distractions come in the form of children, family, household chores, and television, to name a few. A freelancer must be a focused, determined individual who can be relied on to get the job done.

Though freelancing seems to be the ideal job from afar, upon closer inspection, it’s not all it’s made out to be. Many individuals are freelancers alongside their regular jobs for the purpose of job security. But, if you understand freelancing income, are comfortable working alone, and are dedicated towards completing the job, you might just have what it take to break into freelancing.

Connie Davis is a contributing author for NerdWallet, a personal finance website, where you can find advice on a range of topics from managing credit debt to where to find online coupon codes


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