Why go freelance?

Freelancer on the beachWe’ve looked at the benefits of outsourcing work to freelancers from a company perspective. But what’s in it for the freelancer?

In the UK, the Professional Contractors Group estimates the following:

78% of the UK public think that freelancing and flexible working help promote a good work/life balance

72% think freelancing has a positive effect on family life

Look at the upside

The primary benefit most freelancers would offer up first is ‘freedom’.

On the one hand, you’re now at the beck and call of more than one employer. On the other hand, you have the freedom to manage your own workload and timetable your day.

Once you leave behind the rigidity of 9 to 5, it’s very hard to go back. Whether it’s childcare or other commitments, being freelance gives you the flexibility to work to a schedule that suits your lifestyle.

Another advantage of being a freelancer is the variety of work that comes your way. Depending on the nature of your job, you may gain the chance to work in a number of different industry sectors. Rather than writing about the same subject, I get to cover a broad spectrum of topics and learn so much more because of this.

Financially, there are also significant benefits. No commute to work is one. Another is being able to use all the hours at your disposal effectively, with no limit on how much time you put in – the level of work you choose to take on is up to you.

There’s always a downside

The main disadvantage is lack of security – you no longer have a set wage coming in each month. You also don’t have corporate benefits such as holiday, company car and, most importantly, sick leave and healthcare. (You can take out an insurance policy to cover yourself, if this is an area you’re concerned about.)

As a freelancer, you have to pay for all your own equipment and any support services. You may need to employ IT support and an accountant. Of course, all these expenses are tax deductible.

There is also the isolation of working alone. Although I collaborate with more people now than I did in the office, I don’t see them on a daily basis. This aspect is both a positive and a negative!

Adapting to change

A significant adjustment to make when going freelance is to your mindset. Once you accept the pros and cons and embrace the lifestyle, you may find you’re more open to considering new types of work.

Freelancing can impact on other aspects of your life. When you take the plunge and learn to live without the security of 9 to 5, you also become more inclined to grasp new opportunities and occasionally take more risks in other areas.

The Professional Contractors Group estimates there are 1.4 million British freelancers working across all sectors – this has grown 14% in the past decade.

The freelance business model is one that individuals and organisations are increasingly adopting. It’s a practice that’s ideally suited to today’s rapidly evolving communication and collaboration technologies.