I’ve been freelancing for more than 7 years now. Overall, it has been a very productive experience for me, considering that during those years, I’ve been able to juggle different responsibilities as a wife, a mother and a professional. But it’s not always been peachy all the time. To some people, it might seem like freelancing is laidback and easygoing. The truth is it can be a lot more challenging than your regular office work. But just like any other jobs, being a freelancer has its own pros and cons. So if you are thinking about trying this work setup, here are some of the things that you might want to expect. First, let’s go through its pros:
Advantages of Working Freelance
1. You work at your own pace and time
One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you have the freedom to work anytime you want, as long as you meet your client’s demands. So far, ever since I started working from home, the clients I have worked with haven’t given me any specific work hours to comply to daily, although there are some clients who do. And because I get to choose when to work, I get to juggle more duties at work and at home. I can divide my time so that I can work with multiple clients and help out with house chores. I can take longer breaks or work longer hours, as long as the work arrangements I’ve made with my clients are met.
I remember when I used to work in the office, I’ve never really been good with coming in early. I tend to leave late for work and don’t always account into my travel time the possibilities of any traffic jam along the way. So most of the time, I arrive on the dot, or worse, a few minutes late. I’m not proud of it. But the thing is, whenever I’m at work, I do my best to be at my most productive, especially considering that I enjoyed working and keeping my mind busy. So I’m thankful that my decision to go freelance made it easy for me to make the most use of my time.
Now, I don’t have to get stressed out by my daily work preparations, not to mention the very stressful commute to and from the office. I also don’t have to struggle where and how to find freelance work because I’ve already made a portfolio and have built a professional network on various platforms. Now, as soon as I wake up, I’ll just take a few steps towards my desk, start up my computer and I can get started with work.
2. No need to always look your best
You know how some companies provide their employees, especially their executives, with clothing allowance? Well, image is, of course, very important. This is why employees are always expected to look professional when they come to the office.
It used to always take me an hour or longer to just prepare to work. Not to mention all the other preparations that I have to do the day before, like picking out what to wear. Of course, part of looking good is putting on makeup, fixing up my hair and putting on a corporate or business casual attire. Now, I can work in whatever outfit I’m comfortable with, even in my pajamas! I don’t have to wake up too early just to put on makeup and fix my hair, just so I can look good and proper. I get to work in any outfit I’m comfortable in.
I also used to spend a portion of my money for office attire, makeup and accessories, to make sure that I’d always look presentable and feel comfortable with how I look. But ever since I started working from home, I’ve come to enjoy the comfort of wearing regular everyday clothes, without the need to put on makeup, fix my hair, and stand on heels or closed shoes.
3. You can work anywhere
On the bed, in the kitchen, by the beach, in a cafe or restaurant — anywhere! As long as you have your work laptop and an internet connection, you can do your job wherever you may be. You can even work while on vacation or even when you are traveling. For me, this is definitely one of the best advantages of being a freelancer.
Before my husband and I decided to start working from home, we used to rent an apartment in San Pedro, Laguna. My husband used to commute daily for about 2 hours each way. His work used to eat up most of his time, what with preparation and commute on top of his work hours. Because of this, we rarely had a chance to spend some quality time with our daughter. And because he worked the night shift, his work also took a toll on his health. This is when we decided to explore the possibilities of working from home.
Thankfully, we found the opportunity to escape the corporate work setup and go freelance. We also were able to move back to Lucena City where we no longer have to rent an apartment or commute daily or sacrifice or time for our family. We were able to give our kids a healthier environment to live in. And we get to spend more time with them, be more present and be more hands-on as parents. Now we can work while spending time with and looking after our kids in the comforts of our own home.
And given the pandemic that we are all in right now, the ability to work from home is a blessing. This helps you minimize your contact with other people and reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19.
4. You can explore any career you want
Another great benefit of freelancing is that it gives you the opportunity to explore other career opportunities. This bit might not be that easy to accomplish, but if you put enough work into it, you can look into other work possibilities and prepare yourself to be able to handle the responsibilities of the work you’ve chosen.
The great thing about the internet is that it is filled with loads of information on how you can start freelancing. Whether you want to handle customer support, virtual assistance, marketing, SEO, content writing, web design, programming or graphic design, you can. There are loads of trainings available through various platforms: YouTube, Udemy, SkillShare, LinkedIn Learning, and many more! It all depends on how eager you are to learn something.
There are many trainings, even free ones, available everywhere, with some offering free certifications. So if you want to explore freelancing, you’d better start getting used to searching on Google. Because everything that you need to start freelancing is on the internet, no matter what career you’d like to pursue.
5. No pressure to mingle with workmates
Now, this is an advantage for introverted people. Not everyone is comfortable to always be surrounded by other people, so working from home can be a better setup for them. If you are one of these people, you can get to work without having to mingle with your teammates. Some freelance employers might want their team to communicate and collaborate to get some work done, but at least, with this setup, you won’t have to always talk with other people.
I added this as an advantage because I tend to have moments when I’d prefer to just be quiet and alone. I began to realize how I enjoyed not having to mingle often with other people, especially if you are not in the mood to do so. I do enjoy being in the company of others. Sometimes, I also miss hanging out with the friends I’ve made when I used to work corporate. But if you are like me, who tend to be introverted at times, if you hate politics at work and you don’t want to be disturbed by office banter while you’re “in the zone”, then freelance work will be a great setup for you.
Disadvantages of Working Freelance
There definitely are a lot of advantages to working freelance. With a better, more lenient setup and the freedom to pick any job that you can handle, you can definitely start a career even without leaving your home. But aside from the benefits of this work setup, freelancing also has a number of drawbacks. Before you try freelancing, here are the downsides of the freelance setup and what actions you can take to overcome them.
1. Tendency to adopt a sedentary lifestyle
Imagine earning money at the comforts of your own home office. You can easily setup your work desk to have everything that you need, including your snacks, drinks, entertainment during breaks and more. And because you have almost everything you need while working, you won’t have to getup from your chair. You can just sit there and work for hours and hours, until you get tired or sleepy or bored.
It might sound nice at first, but if you keep up with this inactive lifestyle, it might start taking a toll on your health. With less exercise, you might gain weight and feel lethargic. Without enough physical activities, you might eventually feel some body aches such as back pains.
To overcome this, you should train yourself to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Schedule a time within your day to workout for at least 30 minutes. Ideally, your workout should be a part of your morning routine as it helps keep your heart pumping and help you feel more lively and ready for a productive day.
2. No work means no income
If you are like me who get paid per hour or per project, you understand the struggle of not having the choice to not work. Well, I do have the choice to not work for a day or a few days if I want to. I just give my clients a heads up and I can rest for a day or two. But the downside of this is that my earnings for the week will be smaller. I have no boss to file for a paid leave, so if I want to make sure that I earn my full salary for the week as always, I will have to work those hours.
3. No corporate employee benefits
Once you become a freelancer, you have to face the facts that there will be no HR staff to handle your compensation concerns. In a way, you are your own boss and employer. So if you decide to not pay for your own employee benefits, then you will have none of them. Here in the Philippines, we have SSS, Philhealth, PAGIBIG and health card as the usual benefits for corporate employees. But as a freelancer, you will have to solely handle your enrolment and payment for these for you to reap the benefits each membership can offer.
4. Having to juggle work and house chores
As a work from home mom, I understand the struggle of having to work while taking care of my kids. When you work from home and you have kids to take care of, a house to clean, dishes to wash and meals to prepare, working uninterrupted is not possible. Every now and then, I will have to make sure that my kids are not doing anything crazy that might harm them or wreck up the house. And because it’s just me and my husband doing all the house chores, we have decided to split the tasks so that we both get to work enough hours in the day without neglecting the kids and the state of our house.
But because we have two young kids, ages nine and three, being able to keep the house clean and in proper order is a constant struggle. Toys will always be scattered everywhere, there is always a pile of laundry and dishes, and so much more. So apart from having someone to share house chores with, we have also made it a point to teach our kids to be more independent.
It’s also a good idea to create a schedule of your daily tasks. Setup a time for work and for your chores at home. This way, you will be able to transition well between tasks, knowing what to do next. This can also help improve your productivity as a freelancer. Setting up a daily schedule also helps set your mind at ease since you won’t have to keep thinking about the tasks that you have pending, knowing that you have a time set for work and for your chores.
5. Prone to depression
Freelancing, unfortunately, is not that easy to pursue, especially for people who are not comfortable with being alone. Given that you work from home, you will more likely have less face-to-face interactions with other people. Some might be working from home with their spouse or other family members, while others get to schedule regular face to face meetings with friends or fellow freelancers, but to some, this may not be an option.
And because the pandemic is limiting our opportunity to mingle with other people, the risk for depression is at an all time high. This is why it’s important to find ways to connect with people who you can share your thoughts with. If you often feel lonely, it’s best to occupy yourself with things that will help you feel better or will keep your mind busy. Find a hobby, pamper yourself, listen to music or a self-help podcast, watch fun movies, or meditate.
You should also take care of your health. Remember that what you eat or drink can also affect how you feel. Make sure to get enough rest. If everything else fails, consult a professional to provide you with the right kind of help that you need.
Whatever profession you decide to pursue, whether you are a corporate or public employee, self-employed or a freelancer, there will always be advantages and disadvantages to it. There is no perfect work setup, but there will surely be a reason why you chose to go with it. When it comes to freelancing, some might find that it’s not the right setup for them, while some people might think that it’s a great opportunity that not everyone is given. No matter how others see it, I will always consider my freelance career as a blessing. It has changed a lot of things in my life, including the way I have handled my responsibilities as a wife and a parent.
If you were given the opportunity to work as a freelancer, what line of work would you pursue and why? And if you are a freelancer, do you have other advantages and disadvantages to add on the list? Feel free to comment them down below. Enjoy reading and stay safe!