According to a study released by freelance marketplace Upwork, more than half of U.S. workers will be freelancing by 2027. With this unconventional job trend on the rise, you may be feeling a sudden and indescribable urge to hop on the freelance bandwagon. Whether you feel constrained by your nine to five position, you're working for a boss that rivals Cruella de Vil, or you are craving to spend more time at home with loved ones, freelancing may seem like an extremely attractive and viable option for your career.
Before you start packing up your desk, there are several elements about converting to freelance that you should take the time to chew over. The prospect of solely freelancing may be incredibly alluring, but before you make the jump, here's what you need to know.
Me, Myself, and I
There’s nothing better than creating friendships with coworkers. Even on those dreaded days where everything feels like it's going wrong, having strong ties with your coworkers can wind up brightening your seemingly terrible Tuesday. When you are a freelancer, turning to your cubicle buddy for a couple laughs or taking a coffee break with a trusted colleague are no longer options. No matter what field you are in, whether it be creative, legal, or consulting, you will be spending a large portion of your working hours alone. Most freelancers who decide to return back to office work, attribute their move to the loneliness they felt say a party of one at home. Make sure that working independently is something you can handle before making the move into freelancing. If you’re the type of person who relishes in the opportunity to work alone, then freelancing may be a great fit for you.
You Are Your Own Boss
Not having to answer to anyone? Sign me up. While this may seem like the best part about operating as a freelancer, especially if you're dealing with a terrible boss on a daily basis, there's a ton of self-governance that comes with being your own boss. Although the constructs of your nine to five may be the leading motivator behind making the switch to freelancing, the reality is, you may have to stick to a specified schedule, but you're also guaranteed a paycheck. It’s a bit like when you transition from High School to College. In high school, your teachers and parents control most of your actions, enforcing rules and punishments each time you fail a test or skip class. In college, however, you’re responsible for your own education; if you decide to party in lieu of attending class, you'll fail out. Similarly, with freelance work, you have to be diligent. If you sit on your couch all day watching The Great British Bake Off you may not get any work done; and to be clear, no work = no money.
The perk of having a nine to five job is that you always receive that glorious paycheck - whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or anything else, you know that you will get paid. When you travel the freelancing path, your salary is determined by how many open contracts you may or may not have at any given time. Here's one reality that people tend to forget: there will be times where you are making zero dollars, and your dry spell could last for months. Saving is a huge component to successfully navigating the freelance space, as you need to plan accordingly for those moments where your bank account isn't seeing any paydays. Proper budgeting is essential for whenever you face a slow period, so you can adequately cover your bills and not spiral into a panic-filled breakdown. It’s easy to want to splurge when the green is flowing, but when being fiscally responsible is crucial for keeping your electricity on, you'll want to avoid unnecessary spending. Being financially stable and having a good amount of cash in savings is a must before deciding to hand in your two weeks’ notice.
There are many jobs in today's market that can be outsourced to a freelancer, and it’s easy to feel that one of those workers could be you. This kind of work style can be beneficial and a nice break from the strict barriers of your traditional 9-5 schedule. As with any potential big change in your life, however, it's best to make sure you are equipped with the knowledge necessary for making a well-informed decision. It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of working for yourself, but if you are unprepared, you may find yourself sinking faster than you anticipated.