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To freelance or not to freelance?

Do you ever sit on your office and think..’ugh, if I was freelance, I’d be working in my pyjamas right now’. Perhaps you’re the other side of the fence – a freelancer sitting in your pyjamas thinking ‘I could really do with some human interaction right now’.

There’s pros and cons to both, but what are they?

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Let’s start with freelancing -Pros:

  •  You are your own boss. We’ve all had bad bosses. Well, as a freelancer you are the boss! You can decide which projects you want to work on and which you don’t really fancy.
  • The money can be great! Freelancers generally get paid more per-hour than full-time employees. This is due to the short-term nature of their projects and being paid for very niche expertise.
  • Work when you want to work. Part of being your own boss is setting your own schedule. If you’re a night owl – soak up a lie in and burn the midnight oil. Would you rather spend your evenings socialising? Get up early and finish your working day in time for a spot of afternoon tea.
  • Peace and quiet. This is important to some people. You might be more productive in a solo environment or perhaps you just prefer a little solitude.

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What about the cons though?

  • Knowing where your next pay check is coming from. Undoubtedly the most terrifying part of going it alone. What if no one wants your services? Downtime is inevitable and freelancers have to prepare for a feast and famine lifestyle at times.
  • Lack of workplace benefits. Freelancers don’t get sick pay, or holiday allowance, or maternity cover. You want the time off? You pay for it.
  • Accounts and invoicing. Another frightening prospect is being solely responsible for your accounts. Yes, you can get a book-keeper, but it’s more cost effective to do it yourself. This can cause a headache and keeping on top of lots of smaller invoices can get tricky.
  • Too much peace and quiet. A big complaint from many freelancers is loneliness. Many find they need to work in coffeehouses or cafes just to be around other human life.

Ok, so we get the added freedom with freelancing, but what’s so great about office work? Let me tell you.

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Pros:

  • Job security. Whilst you can be fired or made redundant, there are legal parameters in place that ensure you aren’t dumped with no compensation.
  • Consistency of pay. As opposed to freelance work, in full-time or office employment, you generally know how much money is coming in every month and can budget accordingly.
  • Benefits and perks. Being sick or going on holiday needn’t be reasons to stress, when you’re employed. You get allotted holiday and sick pay as standard.
  • Community. As much as you might dislike your colleagues occasionally, chances are you count some of them as friends. There’s also a social life surrounding these work friends.

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Cons:

  • Your boss. Need I say more?
  • Little to no flexibility. Some companies are now offering more flexi-time contracts. But, in general, a working week is 9-5+, 5 days a week. With no flexibility, it can start to feel like the hamster wheel of life.
  • Office politics and drama. Those friends we previously mentioned? Sometimes work relationships turn sour and it’s very hard to see that person/those people daily. Plus, office politics can become a drag very quickly.
  • Limited holiday. Ok, it’s paid holiday which is great! However, a lot of employees resent their small window for fun each year.

Where will you flourish?

If you work in HR, training, events or a secretarial role – freelance probably isn’t going to work for you. Same goes for a lot of practical in-house roles like managers, warehouse staff and receptionists. For roles like this, full-time employment offers a better potential wage and there’s little to no call for those skills in the freelance world – companies would much rather have those roles as full time employees they can nurture and train. Plus, the social aspect of these roles means your communication can’t be solely via email – you’ve got to get stuck in.

However, some roles work much better on a plug-and-play basis. Anything super techy; coding, web design, development, designers, digital marketers – these are all roles that large companies would rather outsource for. There are several reasons for this. Usually a company doesn’t need someone carrying out these tasks every day or it works out to be more cost effective to use a professional for a short amount of time rather than an amateur for months and months. It’s a pay per project sort of requirement, so this is where you can make some serious cash.

My personal experience

I believe freelance – if it’s possible for your niche – is a more viable option for a lot of people. The freedom and autonomy of freelance far out ways the job security of full-time employment. However, this works for my niche and fits my transient lifestyle.

For many people, especially parents and homeowners, freelancing would be too daunting or too risky. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe-in, why not try picking up a few little jobs on evening and weekends? Websites like upwork.com and fiverr.com can be brilliant if you’re looking to pick up 

Want to fully take the plunge but feel like you might need to brush up on your skills? Why not try a short-term course or refresher? Perhaps you want to retrain entirely?

Check out The Learning People’s digital courses and cash in on a whole new world of freedom.