The Pros and Cons of Being a Freelancer

Pros & Cons of Being A Freelancer

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Contrary to what it may seem, I haven’t given up on this here blog. Rather, I let wedding planning (3 weeks to go!) and freelancing get the best of me and my time. I can’t say how much I admire bloggers who publish beautiful, entertaining, and consistent content, all while managing full-time jobs, families, and whole lot of other stuff. It’s no easy task, and one I haven’t quite mastered yet—but I will keep trying. Starting now.

I can hardly believe it, but it’s been eight months since I quit my job and went full-time freelance. It’s been a challenging and amazing experience thus far, and I couldn’t be happier. Every day brings something different, but in a nutshell, here are some pros and cons of this new career path I’ve chosen:

Pro: I make my own schedule. There’s no doubt about it: The flexibility of being a freelancer is amazing. Ultimately, I have to get my work done and put in tons of hours pitching, writing, editing, and networking. But how I arrange those hours is mostly up to me. I can sleep later in the morning and make up for it by working later into the night. I can go grocery shopping at 2PM when the Iines are nonexistent. I can go to master’s swimming practices at noon on Thursdays. I can take a Friday off if I plan ahead and front-load my work for the week. It’s nice.

Con: No one keeps tabs on me but me. It’s certainly liberating being my own boss, but it also means the motivating, decision-making, and scheduling falls squarely on my shoulders. No one is going to tell me it’s a bad idea to take that Friday off. No one is going to tell me whether or not to accept an assignment, and how much I should get paid for it. No one is going make me sit down and send pitches until 5PM. And no one is going to stop me when I take on too many projects, or help me with the work when I’m scrambling to get them all done.

Pro: I get to change it up. Because I’m not tied to any one company or publication, I’m able to keep my work varied and explore all different opportunities. One day I may be writing an article about wedding planning, and the next I’m interviewing a singer on tour or researching beauty trends. Some days I write all day, while others are more editing-heavy. The variety keeps me motivated and inspired.

Con: I have to keep track of it all. Once upon a time, I completed one W9 and watched money appear in my bank account twice a month, and that was that. Not so much with freelancing. Every time I add a new company to my roster—even if just for a small, one-off project—I have to submit a new W9, and sign a new contract. I have an insane spreadsheet of all my assignments, and it’s up to me to adhere to the deadlines, send invoices (per each company’s guidelines) in a timely manner, and keep track of if and when the checks roll in. I’ll spare you any discussion of tax season.

Pro: I don’t have to leave home to work. I can wake up in the morning and five minutes later be sending emails on my computer while eating cereal, still in my pajamas—and I often do. If it’s freezing outside, I may just spend the whole work day in an oversized hoodie and slippers. And if it’s hot, I may throw on a bathing suit and bring my computer out to my back deck for simultaneous working and sunning. No commute necessary.

Pros & Cons of Being A Freelancer
My only coworkers can get a little creepy.

Con: I don’t have to leave home to work. Working from home is awesome, but it can also get lonely. Without the camaraderie of an office (and I had the best coworkers in my old office), it’s not unusual for me to go an entire workday without speaking out loud (or only speaking out loud to my cats, which is probably not better…). Though it’s easier for me to just sit down in my makeshift home office and get crackin, I sometimes make myself go to coffee shops, or buy lunch somewhere, just to get some human interaction.

Pro: Every dollar I make feels like success. I’m not saying I didn’t earn my salary when I was working for another company; I did, and I know everyone else does, too. But there’s an extra special sweetness to cashing my checks now, knowing each one of them is a direct result of something I did: an article I wrote, a blog post I edited, an idea I pitched. It feels good.

Con: There’s no such thing as paid time off. Or paid “lazy days,” for that matter. When I had a salary and I was having an off day—maybe I was up late the night before, maybe last week was insane and I was burnt out, or maybe it was the third Polar Vortex of the year and I was just over it—I could sometimes get away with slacking off just a tad, or doing the minimum for that day, and still get paid just the same. Sure, if I’m not on deadline, I can take some easy days for myself (Yes, I love what I’m doing, but there are days when even work I love is still just work)…it just directly affects my paycheck. Case in point: I’m taking a couple weeks off for my wedding in July, which means turning down some assignments, in turn minimizing my income for the month. If I want to make up that lost cash, I’m going to have to really hustle in August. 

Pro: I’m doing what I want to do. Even on the days so busy I feel like pulling out my hair; even on the days so dead I feel like I’ve hit a wall; even when I’m agonizing over tough assignments; even when I go weeks without getting a check in the mail…it’s worth it, because I’m in the career I want, and doing something I love.

Fellow freelancers: Anything to add?

  1. Some things as I can see can be a pro and a con at the same time, something similar to Schrödinger’s cat.For example some people have a hard time with being their own bosses, since they can’t really get used to being in charge, while some people consider it a big pro. It’s completely up to you on how you’re going to interpret it.

  2. “There’s no such thing as paid time off” – is one of the biggest cons. You also didn’t mentioned stability. Freelance is instable, you never know how much work you receive and how much you’ll earn the next month. Freelancing is good when it is just additional way of making money or part-time activity. It is not a perfect option to make a living

  3. As any activity freelancing has its white and black sides) As for me, white sides win. For example, you don’t have to stick to somebody’s schedule, sit in front of the screen when you are ill or have emotional disorders. You don’t have to laugh over your boss’s stupid jokes and listen to the background noise, which the most annoying thing ever! Freelancing is instable, but when you have enough clients and stainless reputation, you always will have much work. The most difficult thing in freelancing is self-control. If you’re a bad time-manager, office work with strict schedule is right for you

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