“To freelance or to work full-time?” The question is simple, the answer not so much. Should you swap your current job for a high-paying career online? It depends; many people prefer stability and constancy. That is a fixed salary, a precise schedule, a working environment. Those who would rather not have those things prefer freelancing. Freelancers are not bound by any employment agreements and can work whenever they like.
If you work in a creative field, does it make more sense to take a staff job or to offer your services on a freelance basis? On the face of it, most people would likely say to take the staff position, citing more job security if you have a steady pay check coming in. Making the decision to work independently also has distinct advantages, and you should consider your options carefully before making a decision.
So what are the pros and cons of both full-time and freelance jobs?
Advantages of Working Freelance
- Freelancers can determine their own schedule and how much they want to work. As self-employed people, they can focus on a specific type of project or client if they wish. Freelancers get paid more than employees do, since they need to make sure they are generating enough income to pay for taxes, health insurance, and other necessary expenses.
- As business owners, freelancers can deduct their business expenses on their income tax returns, which will help to lower the amount of their taxable income. Employees are not entitled to deduct the amount they pay for expenses.
- One of the distinct advantages to working as a freelancer is variety. Unlike working for an employer, you get work with different people and no two gigs are exactly the same. You will be constantly learning new things and stretching yourself.
- Freelancers tend to get less caught up in the day-to-day drama of working in an office. Since they are not employees, they are on the team but separate from a lot of the politics involved. It can be easier to focus on the work in this type of arrangement.
Disadvantages of Working Freelance
- As a freelancer, you don’t have the same kinds of safety nets that an employee does. You are responsible for generating enough income to keep food in the cupboard and the lights on. The means even when you are in the midst of your current gig you need to be thinking about where you are going to find your next one.
- Freelancers need to find time to track their expenses on top of doing their work. Keeping records of receipts and the accounting part of the business can be time-consuming for a freelancer, and it adds to an already-packed schedule.
- Freelancers also need to make sure they pay the employer portion of the required taxes for the country where they are working. This may mean having to set aside a portion of earnings in a separate account so that installment payments can be made by certain dates each year.
- Employees may have access to health care, life insurance, disability coverage, and other benefits. Freelancers are not covered under employee group benefit plans. They can buy these benefits for themselves if they wish, but private coverage tends to be costly and not everyone who is self-employed can afford to pay for it.
- Since freelancers may get called in to work only on a specific aspect of a project, it can be challenging to get all the information needed to complete the work. Not all clients understand that the freelancer needs to coordinate data from more than one department to keep his or her end running smoothly and that if anything is delayed, it means that the freelancer will be scrambling to meet his or her deadlines.
Advantages of Becoming a Permanent Staff
- The main advantage to becoming a permanent staff member is that you will be getting a regular pay check. For many freelancers, the normal financial cycle is one of feast or famine, with times when work is plentiful and others where there is little or no work to be had.Many people feel secure if they know exactly how much they will be making each week, month or year, even if they could (potentially) make more if they struck out on their own as a freelancer.
Disadvantages of Becoming a Permanent Staff
- Some people would argue that security cannot come from earning a pay check from an employer. If the employer’s business goes through a downturn and the decision is made to reduce staff, it may not matter how well a particular employee did his or her job; at a certain point, it all comes down to numbers.Earning money from a single income stream is akin to putting all of one’s eggs in one basket, which may not be the best choice if the goal is to gain a sense of security.
When you are considering freelance vs. permanent, there are advantages and disadvantages to both models of work. Freelance offers flexibility and the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, while a permanent position can provide a steady income and possibly a benefits plan.
No one model is right for everyone, and the right choice for you may be different, depending on where you are in your career and what your family and other responsibilities may be.
Which one do you prefer: freelance or permanent work model? Why?
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