First thing's first: what is freelancing?
Freelancing is a type of self-employment. Instead of being employed by a company, freelancers tend to work as self-employed, delivering their services on a contract or project basis.
Companies of all types and sizes can hire freelancers to complete a project or a task, but freelancers are responsible for paying their own taxes, health insurance, pension and other personal contributions.
Since they work for themselves, freelancers must also cover their own holiday costs and sick pay. At the same time, self-employed professionals can set their own working hours and make working arrangements that fit their lifestyle – either working remotely or from their clients’ offices.
There are many different types of freelancers, but they tend to be knowledge workers who possess a high-level of skills and knowledge in a certain area, such as designers, writers, programmers, translators, project managers and so on. There is, however, another group of self-employed professionals that often get classed as ‘gig workers’ or ‘contractors.’ Self-employed handymen, cleaners, construction workers and drivers would fall into this category. The most distinct difference between freelancers and gig workers is that the former tends to rely on the internet to deliver their work.
What are the advantages of being a freelancer?
With the number of freelancers on the rise year on year, many describe the decision to go freelance as life-changing. Here are a few of the commonly touted advantages to quitting the standard 9-to-5 job and becoming a freelancer.
Flexibility to decide how, when and where to work
One of the biggest perks of being your own boss is that you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to work from home, start late or work while you travel. You decide your own business hours and you choose where to work from. If that means taking Wednesdays off to visit your grandma or working late into the night and sleeping until noon – so, be it!
Choosing your own clients
Once your business is running smoothly, you’ll also have the freedom of choosing the clients you actually want to work with. And that’s a wonderful feeling! Whenever you feel like you don’t mesh with the client’s personality, don’t like someone’s attitude or payment terms, you can shift your energy to finding a new gig instead of fighting constant battles with the client.
Keeping all the profits
One of the best things about working as a freelancer is that you can see a direct link between working hard and your account balance. Since you keep all the after-tax profits, it is also up to you to decide how you want to allocate and spend the money.
Wrapping it up
Freelancing is a skill, like learning to play chess or paint. The more you practice it and polish your techniques, the better you get at it. If you’re considering going freelance and it seems a little scary, know that it’s normal. Rather than waiting for the right (or let’s be honest, perfect) time for making the leap, focus on doing your homework and sorting out the steps to a great start – build your client list early, take out insurance, open a business account and step into the world of freelancing. There’s no hiding from it – you’ll have to work hard to be great at it but once the breakthrough happens, the payoff will be oh-so-sweet!