Spend enough time on LinkedIn following freelancers, and you’ll get a pretty rosy perspective on quitting your job and going to work for yourself.
I can confirm that there are great things about freelancing. But there are also a lot of challenges that don’t get the same amount of air time.
Which is why I was drawn to this story in The Florida Star about new research on the pros and cons of freelancing. A fresh survey of 2,000 people identified what freelancers love about their work — and what they hate. Here are the results.
The Pros of Freelancing
The survey respondents indicated that their favorite three things about freelancing are:
- The freedom to choose their projects (43%)
- The ability to work whatever hours they want (41%)
- The opportunity to be their own boss (40%)
I would wholeheartedly agree with this list. There’s something really freeing about working on things that interest you, and it’s nice to choose when you want to work. Not having a boss/manager is a plus, too, though freelancers end up with many bosses/managers via their clients. (More on this in the next section.)
The freedom can be amazing. It can also be terrifying as you get your business up and running. The key to enjoying the freedom is to have as much quality, high-paying work as possible. When you are getting good jobs that pay you well, it’s easy to say “no” to anything you don’t want to do.
The Cons of Freelancing
The top struggles of freelancers (based on the survey) are:
- Scheduling vacation time (42%)
- Clients that don’t pay on time (40%)
- A lack of benefits (38%)
I would add two other cons to this list:
- Client management: It’s hard to manage multiple clients at once, most of all because they aren’t aware of each other. You’ll sometimes hear from two or three clients in a day asking for something on a short turnaround. The problem is that they don’t know (or aren’t thinking about) the many other clients who are asking for your time on that same day. You have to set boundaries and expectations, and don’t be afraid to be transparent with clients: “I have two other projects in front of you, so I won’t be able to get to this until next week,” for example.
- Business development: You have to master finding the work before you can truly flourish as a freelancer. If you don’t have a steady pipeline of opportunities, it’s impossible to enjoy the benefits of the freelance lifestyle.
Those have been my two greatest challenges over the past 8-plus years of freelancing, mostly as a side hustle.
What’s Your Greatest Challenge?
I firmly believe that each freelancer is unique. While the pros and cons of freelancing listed above may be the most common, you may have a pro or con that’s not nearly as widely recognized — but that’s prominent in your own life. Let us know your greatest freelancing pro or con in the comments section below.