The pros and cons of freelancing


Your job isn’t giving you everything. Or maybe it’s giving you too much. Something is pushing you to think, ‘maybe there’s a better way of living than this?’.


And freelancing is precisely that – it’s a way of living. It’s not just an alternative to employment, but a complete change of lifestyle that fits around you and your needs. There’s no hiding that I love it, but I have tried to come up with a balanced view for when you’re on the fence, looking at that lush, bright green grass on the other side…


woman drinking from a mug, with a laptop and notebook
IRL: I work from exclusively from home, in my favourite t-shirt, with my favourite mug. I wouldn't change a thing.

The Pros


Be your own boss


I feel like this phrase gets thrown around a lot when people are considering freelancing, but it really shouldn't be overlooked. If you've ever had a manager that made your working hours (and even the ones beyond that) a misery, you'll know the value of simply taking them out of the picture.


On the flip side, if you've ever given any thought to what a great manager should do for you, you'll feel empowered knowing you can do all of this for yourself. Think regular ‘how’s it going’ sessions, mapping out opportunities to grow, and useful chances to review your highs and lows without it just being a tick box exercise.


Set your own hours (and days, weeks and months)


Work whenever you like, whether that's when the kids are at school, or to fit in with the hours your brain is at its best, you do you.


Kids sick? Let go of the guilt of calling in to the office. School holidays? Plan for it and schedule the time off. Want your birthday off? Of course you do! You get the idea. Your schedule, your rules.


Similarly, never have the worry of calling in sick again


Is there anything worse when you're ill than the horrible dread of having to tell work you won't be going in? Waiting for their silent judgement or questions about when you'll be back? Just go to bed! Sure, you might have to send some emails that tell people you're delaying your work until you're better, but the key here is telling, not asking permission. You don't have to answer questions, you don't have to pick up the phone by 8am to avoid a disciplinary. Just be ill if you're ill, it really shouldn't have to be harder than that.


Unlimited income


Please take this one with a pinch of salt. I'm not talking about stepping into an Aladdin's cave full of piles of gold coins. I'm talking about the potential. See, with a salaried job you can put your all into your work, slave away with crazy hours and effort, or you can just turn up and do the bare minimum. Either way, you'll take home the same amount each month. Not with freelancing. Slave away and you will see the rewards. It's up to you to find a good balance to do this when it fits in, but it's definitely a great thing when you want a cash injection for that holiday or home renovation.


Feel valued for your skills


I've been freelancing for seven years now and the feeling when new clients decide to work with me because they see the value of what I can do for them never gets old. If you're motivated by good feedback and getting people to say yes, you'll love this side of freelancing.


Work wherever you want


You really want to push the boat out on this one. This isn't just remote working like we've all got used to since the pandemic, again, this is about the potential. Do you want to work from a beach hut (with wifi) in the Seychelles? From a canal boat touring the UK? (I know freelancers that do both of these!) Make freelancing work with your personal ambitions and tick off those travel bucket list goals without worrying about annual leave.


This one is the reason that will convince 99% of you freelancing is a great idea...


Good lunches. No, scrap that. GREAT LUNCHES.


I'm sorry, but is there anything more boring in the world than having to make a packed lunch for the office each day, only to be rewarded with the same dry sandwich again and again?


At home, we're talking stir fry, poached egg on toast (anything you like on toast!), or the ultimate freelance lunch: a fish fingers and ketchup sandwich.


Who just handed their notice in?


Community


You will meet the BEST people freelancing. It's honestly the nicest, warmest, most down to earth experience I've had of making new friends who get what you're doing in a way others just don't. Come on in, we're lovely.


OK, I need to do this properly and point out the cons too. But I will say, once you've read them, come back and re-read the pros, because I genuinely believe they outweigh them for most people.


The Cons


Fluctuating income


Yes, this is also in the pros, but just as it can be great to earn more sometimes, you'll also earn less sometimes too. You'll need a comfortable amount of savings to start you off, and it's a good idea to always have 3-6 months' worth of living costs saved for quiet periods. If you don't depend on anyone else to help pay the bills, this will likely be your biggest thing to consider.


It's worth saying at this point it took me far longer to think of more than one con than anything else in this post.


Applying for a mortgage


If you'd like to buy a house within the next two years, whether it's your first time or not, freelancing can add an element of trickiness to this. It's far from impossible, and Halifax mortgages are something I'll recommend to any self-employed person. Both times I’ve used them they have been incredibly understanding and welcoming to freelancers, but in general you will have to work harder to prove affordability. Normally you'll need two years of tax returns. Saying that, it does help if you freelance in a similar industry to what you were employed in, and some banks will consider only one year of accounts. Always speak to a financial or mortgage advisor for details (because I am not one).


Pandemics don't help


I mean, it would be weird if they did, right? Yes, freelancers are more visible since the pandemic, but in terms of financial support it's worth pointing out that a lot of freelancers were left in the cold in 2020 (three million of us, to be exact, but who's counting, Rishi, WHO'S COUNTING?). It really is a game of surviving on your own means at times.


Progression


If you're the type of person who lives for their next promotion, you'll have to get creative here. Freelancing definitely comes with milestones and ways of looking back at your achievements, but there's no overnight salary raise (though you can give yourself any title you like).


So, to sum up, freelancing could be for you if:


- you want more flexibility in how, when and where you work

- you can handle some financial ups and downs

- you want full control over your work, who you work with and how you progress


Sound good? I hope so. I wouldn't call myself a particularly passionate person, but I am absolutely passionate about freelancing and the freedom it brings.


If this resonates, and you feel like you might be ready to make the next steps in the near future, you don't have to do it alone. My mentoring programme for new freelancers is perfect for anyone making the transition, thinking about going freelance, or working through their first couple of years.


Want a free 30 min session to try it out? Just send me a message here.