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Should Freelancers Ever Return to the Traditional Workforce?

Updated on August 10th, 2017
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Recent studies show that freelancers will make up about 40% of the working economy by 2020, but does that mean that freelancers shouldn’t return to the traditional workforce if they want to? I personally struggled with this decision not too long ago.

After losing a few clients early in the year, I started interviewing for traditional 9-5 jobs, but ultimately, I decided to stick with running my own business. I just love setting my own hours too much. However, if you are looking to go from freelancer to a traditional job, I definitely understand. Below are a few things to consider before going back.

Consider Your Pay & Benefits

You are never guaranteed pay as a freelancer. However, you can also charge as much as you want for your work to make the income that you need. If you are contemplating going from a freelancer to traditional job employee, it’s important to think about what you’ll need as far as income.

Can you survive if a client doesn’t pay you right away? Do you absolutely need a certain level of health care that you can’t afford when you work for yourself? Your answers to questions like these will help you decide whether freelancing is still a good fit for you.

If you want a guaranteed pay day, health benefits, and paid time off, it may be best to go back into the traditional workforce. Plus, you wouldn’t have to ever worry about quarterly taxes again if your employer takes them out of your paycheck for you. However, if you currently make enough money to support yourself, you might not have as great of a need to return to a traditional job.

On the other hand, it’s also important to remember that you can be let go from a traditional job. As a freelancer, you can always gain more clients to cover you if one goes away, like I had to do earlier this year.

Do You Want To Work Alone?

While co-working, networking events, and collaborations have become more popular among freelancers, a majority still work alone on a fairly consistent basis. If you are a natural introvert, this may not bug you. If you enjoy chatting and being around others, freelancing may take a toll on you.

When considering a jump from freelancing to a traditional job, take some time to think about your current social interactions and if you want to improve them. If co-working and networking aren’t cutting it, maybe a part-time or full-time job would be more beneficial. If you think about your workday and are perfectly fine with spending most of it alone, then freelancing shouldn’t be an issue.


Flexibility is one of the greatest benefits as a freelancer, especially for people who have children like I do. However, for some people, having structure is important, and that’s okay.

A few benefits being a freelancer include getting to wear stretchy pants every day, running errands when everyone else is at work, and snacking on demand. For those that work a traditional job, perks can include dedicated time to work and “break” time away from family.

Going from a freelancer to a traditional job could mean giving up the occasional afternoon nap or running an errand in the morning while everyone else is at work. However, it could also mean knowing what hours you will work and having devoted time for friends and family rather than feeling like you need to check your e-mail 24/7. Depending on your life situation, flexibility could be a deal breaker when it comes to deciding whether or not to return to work.

Think Of Your Opinions

In a traditional job, your voice and opinion may not go as far as it will when you own your own business. Essentially, you won’t be the boss anymore, which can be hard. However, if you like teamwork, the traditional workforce should be enjoyable for you provided you work somewhere where you have a great team. Plus, there could be a sense of relief knowing that you won’t have to make every single important decision on the table.

Think Of Long-Term Goals

Odds are you don’t want to work with a company for 20+ years until retirement. Do you want to grow your business and brand to include multiple employees and locations one day? Do you want to pass your business to your loved ones? These are all questions that you have to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to return to the traditional workforce.

Your decision should reflect your long-term goals. If you are having trouble making your decision based on the above topics, try writing down your long-term goals (and even short-term goals) to see where they align the most. If they fit freelancing more, you may be better off staying in your current situation. They might align more with a traditional job. Therefore, it might be time to hang up the freelancer title and go back to the traditional workforce.

Your long-term goals may change over time, so be sure to check in often with yourself to make sure you are on track and still want the same things. Remember that you can go from freelancer to the traditional workforce, and if it doesn’t work, freelancing is still an option. No decision you make is permanent when it comes to this.

Ultimately, the decision to return to a traditional job or stay a freelancer is completely up to each individual. If you want to have traditional benefits and don’t mind working for someone else, going back to a traditional job may be the best option for you.

If you prefer working for yourself but just want to make more money or have a better work/life balance, it could be best to gain more clients or outsource to save time. No matter what you choose, there is nothing wrong with going back to a traditional job, just like there isn’t anything wrong with working on your own. I’m glad that I made the choice to stick with my own business, but for you, the choice may be different.

Catherine Collins Alford

Catherine Collins Alford

Catherine Collins Alford is a nationally recognized author of the book Mom's Got Money, an award-winning freelance writer, and the co-founder of

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