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By Craig Buckler

10 Reasons You Should Consider Freelancing

By Craig Buckler

I’ve been a freelance web developer for more than eight years. It’s allowed me to write for SitePoint during the past six years and since this is my 1,000th article (cue fireworks and fanfares), I thought it was time to share my experiences of the freelancing world.

Going freelance is a scary step. I dithered for far too long and wish I’d done it years earlier. Perhaps you will too…

1. You have a skill

If you’re a developer or designer you have a skill relatively few possess. Don’t underestimate your knowledge and talent; others want your expertise. You’re also in a young industry where demand has always outstripped supply. It’s difficult to find good people but, if you’re one of them, you’ll regularly have more work than you can handle.

2. You’re not afraid of hard work

In most companies 20% of people do 80% of the work. If you consider yourself part of that 20%, freelancing could be a great option. But remember:

  • There’s no hiding place. Unlike salaried employees, it’s easy to dispose of your services if you don’t deliver.
  • You’ll be completing direct work for clients and indirect work for your company: marketing, sales calls, accounts, tax, etc.

3. You want to live the dream!

Most people dream of running their own business but few ever take the final plunge. You may not be the CEO of Apple but, as a freelancer, you’re responsible for a small company. It will be daunting but it’s probably easier than you expect.

Freelancing will take over your life but most jobs do.

4. You thrive on variety

Good freelancers can pick and choose the jobs they want to tackle. I often take roles which interest me rather than a better-paid tedious task. You can also diversify; article writing, training courses, photography, video editing, game creation and more are all possible. I’m paid to write this!

5. You want flexibility

Do you have a dentist appointment? Do you want to see your kid’s school play? Do you fancy a day off? Do you feel the urge to migrate a database at 4am?

Freelancing need not be a nine-to-five job. While most clients will expect you to be contactable, you’re not an employee; if you’re not working, you don’t get paid. You’ll never need to complete an absence request form ever again!

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6. You want to do what you love

The top employees in any company are ultimately promoted. That may be a good thing but it normally means doing less interesting work as you step up the management hierarchy. If you’re unlucky, you’ve just risen to your level of incompetence. If you’re unlucky, you’ve just been bypassed for promotion by someone less competent!

Freelancers can concentrate on what they enjoy — presuming someone is willing to pay for that work.

7. Less discrimination

Your gender, age, race, looks, disabilities, location and education are (normally) less of issue in the freelance world. That’s easy for me to say as an attractive 21 year-old able-bodied white male but, the point is, you’re a temporary worker and may never meet your clients. I wouldn’t suggest freelancing “solves” discrimination but it’s more important you can do the job. A client’s personal preferences and prejudices are less evident.

8. You can escape corporate culture

Good freelancers can slot into a variety of teams, working practices and corporate cultures. But, even with a long-term contract, you’re still outside the normal company structure. You’ll rarely be invited to pointless meetings. You’re not subject to tedious assessment procedures. You need never indulge in pointless office politics or power games.

The most unusual benefit: everyone listens to you. Bizarrely, people often trust independent advisers over and above their own employees — even when they’re saying exactly the same thing!

9. Job security

At best, job security in any employed role is an illusion. You’re a month away from redundancy no matter what the company’s prospects. Of course, freelancers are only one minute away from contract termination but:

  • it’s less catastrophic; you have the processes in place to move to your next project
  • you’re unlikely to sack yourself from your own one-person company!

10. The rewards

Let’s talk cash. Freelancers set their own rates based on factors such as the work, location, convenience, urgency, length of contract, company size, interest, etc. Employees can be shocked to learn freelancers typically earn three or four times their daily rate. Freelancers may also profit from other activities and retain a higher percentage of payments because travel and equipment can be offset against revenue.

But don’t under-value your services:

  • you’re hired for a limited period — perhaps by the hour
  • clients can terminate your work without notice or reason
  • you’re not entitled to paid sick leave or vacations
  • there are few perks such as pensions, medical insurance, subsidized food, etc.
  • employees don’t normally pay for services such as accountancy, public liability insurance, advertising, business cards, etc.
  • you’re worth it!

Becoming a freelancer is a big step and I was far too hesitant. There’s never a perfect time but, if you’re regularly consulted about outside projects, you know the work is out there. Ideally, you should save some money to last a couple of quiet months but you’ll never feel you have enough. Not having a financial buffer is very motivating!

Become a reasonably successful freelancer and you’ll never want to enter the world of salaried permanent work ever again. What are you waiting for?…

  • First of all, congratulations! 1,000 articles is a fantastic milestone, and something any writer – freelance or otherwise – would be proud to achieve. Second, I agree with everything in this article, especially point 7 (I’ve been an attractive 21 year old able-bodied white male for some 34 years now). There is one factor I can see that you haven’t specifically mentioned, though, and it is a significant one. As a freelancer, you are responsible for providing your own resources. That ranges from managing your own professional development (for me: books, courses and conferences) to all the equipment and services you need to do your work: your computers, devices, internet connection, office equipment, electricity, the lot. This involves a lot of cost, all or most of which is tax deductible, but you still have to pay for it before you can claim it back. It’s this that most contributes to my freelancing rate being much higher than my employee rate, along with some of the elements you have mentioned, such as a lack of leave, loading, superannuation, etc. Even with that, after more than a decade, I have to agree with you, Craig, that freelancing rocks. Cheers!

    • Craig Buckler

      Thanks Ricky! It’s still great to be contributing to SitePoint.

      Totally agree about all the equipment you have to buy. Although, most people with any interest in IT tend to buy it anyway!

  • shweta

    Freelancing is not a easy job..you have to start from zero..in that case you should have all these skills..

    website designing company in faridabad

  • Time to update your author bio ;)

    • Craig Buckler

      Ha! Well spotted! It’s been done…

  • All of these perks may or may not work out for everyone. There has to be a lot of sacrifice and hard work before you actually have all those opportunities before you, especially when it comes to number 3, 4, and 5.

    • Craig Buckler

      Perhaps it’s not for everyone but every job requires sacrifice and hard work? Don’t fear freelancing, though.

  • King

    One of my favorite article so far, it makes me feel I can do awesome things also (someday). :)

  • King

    One of my favorite articles so far, it makes me feel I can do awesome things also (someday). :)

    • Craig Buckler

      Thanks! Go for it.

  • I agree on most points but what you say about “people often trust independent advisers over and above their own employees.” In companies that I worked with, people trust employees more than independent contractors because independent contractors are less royal to the company and think more in term of their own benefits.

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