Every so often someone comes along and offers me a “real” job. Sometimes it’s a full-time job that I can mainly do at home. Other times it’s a job that includes working in an office and being a permanent part of a team. Usually, I’m tempted to take the offer. The thought of health benefits and a regular salary fill my head with dreams of stability.
However, after sleeping on it, I decide against it. I like the freelancing lifestyle too much. Here’s why:
I Set My Own Hours
One of the biggest perks of working as a freelancer, rather than at a more traditional job, is the flexibility to set my own hours. I don’t have to work during set hours each day. If I want, I can work two hours one day and six hours the next day. Much of the time, I work a little bit every day, seven days a week. This provides me with the flexibility to go to lunch with a friend, enjoy an outing with my son or go to the spa. If I want to do something during the day, I can always work at night. That flexibility is one of the biggest reasons that I stick with the freelancing, even when I feel frustrated.
Vacation Time is When I Want to Take It
As a freelancer, I can take a vacation whenever I want. I don’t have to worry about how many vacation days I have left or whether or not the boss will reject my request for days off. It’s true that sometimes I have to do extra work ahead of time to prepare if deadlines are looming, but in general I can leave when I want. There are times that I sacrifice an hour or two a day while on vacation to do a little work, but it’s a small price to pay for the ability to take off when I want, and not have to worry about being back by any certain time. Plus, if I plan my trip right, I can use some of my travel as a business tax deduction.
It’s Possible to Fire a Problem Client
When you’re trapped in a traditional job, you might not be able to leave due to budget constraints and other issues. You have to learn to deal with your bosses, co-workers and sometimes even customers. I don’t have that issue at this point. Early in my freelancing career, I occasionally stuck with a client for a couple extra months until securing new work, but now I’m fortunate enough to be able to walk away from anyone who doesn’t fit with me. It’s possible to walk away when you can’t take any more.
Business Conditions are What I Make Them
As a W-2 employee, you have a dress code and a list of other requirements associated with your job. As a freelancer, my business conditions are what I make them. I work from home (with low startup costs). However, if I wanted a change of scene, I could find a co-working space or set up shop at a coffee shop. The only tools I need are an Internet connection and a laptop. I can work in my pajamas if I want, and I don’t have to worry about sleeping in. Food at my desk? No problem. Take a long lunch? Sure!
While I do make an effort to create an environment that is tidy and presentable for video purposes, most of the time I don’t have to worry about my work conditions. Just shut the door when I need to signal to my son that I’m doing something “serious.”
I Can Always Make More Money
Even though I have to deal with living on a variable budget, the reality is that it’s not so bad. I can afford my health care costs by going through the health exchange and there are other resources available for freelancers through organizations like AvantGuild through Media Bistro and Freelancers Union.
Plus, I can always make more money. There is always a gig available somewhere. When working at a traditional job, you’re limited by the company’s pay scale and how much overtime you’re allowed. You can’t always just pick up an extra shift or work an extra three hours a day. If I want more money to cover a trip or to make a payment for my health insurance, I can just do another project. If I get really desperate, there’s plenty of work at freelance marketplaces (although they aren’t my favorite sources of work).
I don’t envision a time when I’m not freelancing. There are just too many perks that counterbalance some of the downsides.
Do you freelance? How do you feel about it?