Rachel Weaver studio 8T4 blog post Pros and Cons of Being a Freelancer.

Pros and Cons of Being a Freelancer

Want to be a Freelancer? 

Time for a change? Perhaps you'd like to be a Freelance Artist, Graphic Designer or Photographer? I switched to Freelancing a few years ago, and I've never been happier! It's a career that allows me total creative freedom and flexibility.

However, It's definitely a big decision to make. If you're lacking in confidence or unsure, then taking the plunge can be somewhat terrifying. If your day job is bringing you down, then keep on reading...

Pros

  • You can choose which projects to take on and who you work with. Not every job or commission is necessarily a good fit for your technical skills or creative style. When you're a freelancer, then YOU get to make that call.
  • You can work where you like. You have to freedom to choose where you work. If you feel like a change, pack up your gear and head elsewhere. A change of scenery can be very inspirational and refreshing.
  • No more office lunches. No more packing a lunch or running around on your break trying to find something at least semi-healthy and then attempting to eat it at your desk. If you're working from home, just waltz on into the kitchen and whip up something awesome!
  • No accusing stares if you need to take a sick day. Ever felt your boss's accusing eyes burning into the back of your head after a sick day? You must be making it up right, because you look fine now? Say goodbye to that! If you're not feeling well, you can now take a sick day without the usual impending paranoia and unwarranted guilt trip.
  • Set your own holidays. No more filling out applications, asking permission or trying to fit in around other employees holidays - you get to decide when your time off will be. However, don't forget to be professional and notify your clients that you will unavailable for this time. Give them fair warning so they're not caught out.
  • You can charge what you're worth. As an employee, you might get a regular pay but it's your boss who ultimately decides what you're worth. Some employers will recognise your value - others will only ever pay you minimum wage at the very most, despite your experience or performance. As a Freelancer, you get to decide your hourly rate or how much to charge for a project. Try to be realistic and fair to both yourself and your clients. Don't undervalue yourself with the hope that being cheap will bring you more business. 
  • Decide your own hours. You can choose what works for you. Keep working all night if that's when you're most productive or do the usual 9-5. Work half days, or set days per week. No more struggling to make appointments or get the kids to school. Determine your hours by what works with your lifestyle.
  • No commuting. Because I live in a small city, I've never had to go too far to get to work. I have friends living elsewhere however, that literally spend hours just travelling to and from their workplace everyday. Most Freelancers are home based, so you can spend less time commuting and more time on your creative passion. You'll also save heaps of fuel!
  • Comfort. Unless you're meeting face-to-face with a client, you can work in tracky dacks if you want. I mean, no one can actually see you if you're at home, so it really doesn't matter! Enjoy working in a comfortable environment in comfortable clothes.
  • Freedom to further your skills and push yourself. You are free to spend your time as you wish. So if you want to pause a project, watch a tutorial, learn a new skill or push a concept, you can do so.
  • You are officially your own boss! Enjoy the freedom of being able to shape your business and lifestyle to exactly how you want it.

Cons

  • You need motivation. Being a Freelancer is all about choice. No one will be forcing you to do anything, so you'll need to find some self motivation to bring in business, get those jobs done and meet your deadlines. I find our mortgage to be very motivating. Be organised. Keep job sheets and checklists. Get yourself a white board to ensure you're working productively and efficiently.
  • An irregular pay check. All or nothing, either jobs and deadlines coming out of your ears, or not enough. You'll have to get used to an inconsistent income. But if you're responsible about saving when times are good, it will get you through the quieter periods. 
  • Loneliness. This one doesn't effect me per se -  I find I get heaps of work done when I'm alone! But if you're a real people person, you may miss regular human contact and start to feel a bit like a hermit. If so get out and about for the day, catch up with friends or visit family.
  • The paper work. There's quite a substantial amount of paperwork involved in being a Freelancer. Quoting, invoicing, sending, bills, payment receipts and more. You'll have to take on the administration role of your business. A Freelancer wears many hats! Set time aside to keep it in check or it will start to pile up. Check out Wave to help simplify the process.
  • No sick pay, overtime, holiday pay or superannuation. You will no longer have an employer obligated to make these payments, so save your pennies where you can. You can self-contribute to your super if you see fit.
  • Tax. Yuck. I dislike tax a lot. It clashes unnaturally with my creative mind. If you're located in Australia and your business earns over $75,000 then you will also be required to register for GST and submit BAS statements. Make an appointment with your accountant or find out more information through the ATO. Tax requirements will vary from country to country.
  • The assumption that you're available 24/7. Just because you're a Freelancer, doesn't mean you have to be available round the clock. Don't burn yourself out!
  • You're responsible for finding your own work. If things are  a bit quiet, then it's up to you to drum up some business and bring in new jobs. Or take advantage of the extra spare time while you can and use it productively. Consider running a promotion or competition to attract new clients.
  • If something goes wrong it's only you. Say your computer has a melt down. There's no IT assistance coming your way unless you fork out for it yourself. Or you have an irate client on your hands - well, you'll have to deal with them personally.
  • It can take a while. You will need to build up your client base and get established, which won't happen overnight.

Signs your ready to become a Freelancer

It can be difficult to know when to implement this life changing decision. When is the right time...is there even really such a thing? If you're still unsure if Freelancing is the right choice for you, try starting up part time and see how you go.
Here's a few signs that your ready and capable!

  • You have a substantial body of work behind you that demonstrates your skills and experience in your creative area. You'll need to showcase your talents to potential clients.
  • You have a great relationship with some existing clients who may choose to continue to work with you, should you go out on your own.
  • You have good time management skills and are a motivated to consistently deliver good results, meet briefs and deadlines.
  • You're confident in your existing abilities and are keen to keep self improving.
  • You're unhappy with your current work situation or need more flexible hours, and have the strong desire to be your own boss. 
  • You have the qualifications or licences required (if relevant).
  • You have some savings put aside for any start up costs and some extra cash while you get established.

Yes! I want to Freelance!

So, you've decided to go for it! Here are a few start-up basics to consider;

  • Have your own website to detailing your services, contact information and folio. Testimonials are also a great way to show happy clients.
  • Get yourself a phone for business use and set up a professional voicemail message. I've heard some bad ones over the years... 
  • Get yourself some professional business cards.
  • Set up your social media pages and a Linkedin profile.
  • Work out a business plan. What are your goals - short term and long term? What services will you offer and how much will you charge? How will you market yourself?
  • You have some savings put aside for any start up costs and some extra cash while you get established.
  • Get yourself a logo and brand yourself both online and in print. Keep your colours and fonts consistent whenever possible. Start building brand recognition.
Rachel Weaver

Rachel Weaver

Freelance Creative at studio 8T4
Aussie Freelancer with a love for Art, Graphic Design and Photography, who has been rocking a creative existence since 1984 - powered by puff pastry and the desire to teach, learn, encourage and connect with others.

Horror buff, animal lover, skull collector & long time Tomb Raider gamer.
Geraldton, Western Australia.
Rachel Weaver

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2 Comments on "Pros and Cons of Being a Freelancer"

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Debbie
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Excellent article Rachel. So glad you’re doing what you love.

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