Freelancing is a term used for people who provide products or services as independent contractors rather than employees of a company. They are self-employed in any number of fields, including art, graphics, copy writing, editing, computer programming and web design. Many freelancers have significant experience and often are experts in their discipline. They generally receive payment after they complete the assignment. Some freelancers may receive partial payment upfront. Before deciding on a freelance career, a person needs to weigh the pros and cons.
One advantage of being a freelancer is the freedom of being able to accept or decline jobs as needed. Active freelancers may have waiting lists of companies that want to use their services. Since the main goal is to complete a task, the freelancer can make her own hours as long as she completes the job in the allotted time. If her most productive time is in the middle of the night, the person or company contracting her doesn’t have any say.
Freelancers can piece together jobs to add variety to their work life, rather than work as an employee with a rigid job description. For example, a freelance writer may pen articles for one client and blog for another. Many writers wear more than one hat and also perform editing. A web designer might also have graphics skills and be able to take on clients in both areas.
A freelancer isn’t obligated to take on more work if he chooses not to. This allows him to test the waters in different disciplines to see which he enjoys the most. He can turn down contracts with companies that don’t pay on time, or he may try dabbling in a variety of jobs to see which ones are good for his working style.
Since most freelancers work from home, their commute is the time it takes to walk from their bedroom or kitchen to the computer. They don’t have to sit in traffic, worried about getting to work on time. If a home repair needs to be done, there’s no need to take valuable vacation time to meet the repairman.
To gain experience in a desirable field, a person can perform freelance work for companies that are willing to take a chance her. The work might eventually turn into a permanent freelance job, or if the freelancer wants to be employed, she has her foot in the door with connections and a track record.
A negative of freelancing can be loneliness. Most freelancers work from home, so they tend to be isolated from other people with the same interests, unless they actively seek social or professional networking opportunities.
Freelance work isn’t always steady. Some months, the jobs may be abundant, but other months may be lean. Many companies and individuals put freelancers last on the accounts payable list. To avoid having financial trouble that may force the freelancer back to a salaried job, the freelancer should save a comfortable percentage of the income from the higher-paying months to get through the down times.
Freelancers often don’t have access to group health insurance, unless they are members of an organization that offers it. They don’t get vacation pay or sick leave, so to take a vacation, they have to plan ahead and save money if they want to get away from their work.