The pros and cons of being a freelancer

Considering going freelance? We weigh up the pros and cons of working for yourself to help you decide whether it is right for you.

Freelance work is a brilliant way to use your skills and experience, while balancing your responsibilities as a mum. As a freelancer you can choose when you work and who for – allowing you to fit work around the hours you have free.

But freelance isn’t for everyone. To help you decide if it’s the right career direction for you, we take a look at some of the pros and cons of being a freelancer.

The pros of being a freelancer

Here are five pros of being a freelancer.

1) You can choose when you work

As a freelancer you can choose to fit your work around the hours that you have free, or work for you. So if you’re a morning person, you can get up at the crack of dawn when the house is nice and quiet and get a good three hours of work under your belt before your children are awake and needing your attention.

Or you can plan to tackle your freelance projects when your children are at school or childcare – perfect for working mums.

2) You can choose where you work

As long as you don’t need heavy specialist equipment, you can work pretty much anywhere as a freelancer. So you don’t have to take time off when you go away if you don’t want to. You can even take your laptop down the local café for a working break.

3) You don’t have to make the leap straight away

If you’re not sure whether freelance work is the right choice for you, or you can’t afford to ditch your job and wait for freelance jobs to come in, try it out before you make the leap. Try taking on some small freelance projects in your spare time while you’re working – especially if you work flexibly.

Not only will it give you a taste of freelance work so you can see if you enjoy it, but you can also start building a freelance client base while you work to ease the transition if you do decide being a freelancer is for you.

4) You decide when you want time off

When you work for an employer, you need to get permission for holidays and time off. For many working mums this can make school holidays difficult, especially on lovely summer days when they’d much rather be enjoying an impromptu picnic with their children!

As a freelancer you decide when you want to take on freelance projects and work. So you can choose to block out school holidays for childcare and fun if you wish. Or, if the weather forecast for the week is good, you can choose to work around the sunny days and make the most of the sunshine with your children.

5) Your earning capacity is controlled by you

As a freelancer, your salary is governed by how often you choose to work, how many clients you have, and how much you charge for your freelance work.

So if you’re saving up for a holiday or new car, you can choose to work extra hours or take on more clients. Equally, if you’ve worked hard for a few months and don’t need extra cash right now, you can slow down and take it easy.

The cons of being a freelancer

And here are five cons of being a freelancer.

1) Freelance work can be unreliable

However hard you work at cultivating your client base, there may be times when you don’t have much freelance work on. Equally there can be other times when all your clients want projects completed at the same time and you need to work seven days a week to keep them happy.

Most freelancers accept that there will be times they need to work hard, and rely on the extra money they earn to tide them through any quiet periods. If you’re someone who likes stability and reliability, you may find the peaks and troughs of freelance work just aren’t for you.

2) You need to work at finding freelance clients

Many freelancers rely on a roster of regular clients, plus the odd one-off freelance job. And finding and maintaining enough regular clients to keep you going can take a bit of work. You need to make sure you have an updated social media presence, are listed on the right freelancer directories and are front of mind for freelance recruitment agents.

Over time you’ll find that regular clients can sometimes go quiet or just drop off the radar completely – your contact may leave the company, they could hire in-house talent, or they may have no need for your services any more.

So you always need to be on the lookout for new freelance clients to add to your client base. As a working mum, you need to make sure you can factor that time in with all your other responsibilities.

3) It can be hard to take time off

If you want to keep your regular freelance clients happy, you may find it hard to say no to them and end up working unsociable hours at the weekends and evenings – either sacrificing time with your family or sleep.

You also need to make sure you book holidays in advance so you can let your freelance clients know you won’t be around at that time. If you’re prone to workaholic-ism then you’ll need to be very strict with yourself and ring fence time for you and your family, so you can make sure you achieve a healthy work-life balance.

4) You have no one to talk to

When you work in a busy office you have plenty of colleagues to chat to and share problems with. But if you’re working from home as a solo freelancer you have no one who you can moan about a difficult client to, or bump into at the coffee machine for a quick gossip.

So if you’re a very social person who really needs the input of other people, you need to consider whether bring a freelancer would work for you.

5) You’re responsible for your own tax

When you work for an employer, they usually work out any tax you owe and deduct it from your salary before paying you. So all the money you get paid is yours to keep.

But when you work for yourself, you are responsible for calculating how much tax you owe and making sure it gets paid by completing and submitting the right documents. You also need to be disciplined and save money from every project for tax, so you don’t find yourself short when it comes time to pay.