As the popularity of digital nomads is skyrocketing nowadays, people are looking more and more into freelancing. Combining travel and work is the new dream job, and so freelancing is often seen as the ultimate goal. However, even though there are many benefits of being a freelancer, there are also some downsides, and it depends on what drives and motivates you if freelancing is something for you.
Last year, I was a freelancer myself, but this year, I’ve decided to take on a full-time job in Amsterdam again. (You can read about why I chose to do so, in this blog post!)
Now that I’ve experienced both freelancing and full-time job, I want to explain some of the pros and cons for each type of work.
If you love freedom and hate working from 9 to 5, then freelancing might definitely be your cup of tea. You get to organize your own schedule; if you prefer working in the evening, then go ahead! You don’t feel like working one day? Not a problem! Just enjoy the day and pick up work the next day.
Another pro is that you can work from anywhere (unless you have clients that want to see you in person). So, you can travel and work as a freelancer, as long as you have a stable internet connection.
If you hate repetitive work, then you certainly won’t get bored as a freelancer. You need to be flexible as in that each client is different, and you need to be able to accommodate their various requests and needs.
If you’ve always dreamt about running your own business, and you’ve got a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, the freelancing is definitely the first step, as it’s basically being your own boss and managing your own work.
This is really important: You need to be able to motivate yourself to work and be disciplined – this is absolutely essential when you’re a freelancer. If you’re not organized, it will be difficult to keep up with work. So when you’re working from home, you need to be able to focus and concentrate on getting work done.
Additionally, you need be quite flexible when dealing with different clients. Every client and project is different, so you need to be quite open to sudden changes when they arise. If you’re a person who sticks to a fixed routine, likes to have everything planned and doesn’t like changes, then freelancing might not be something for you.
Perhaps the biggest downside is the financial insecurity. You never know if you will have clients/projects in the coming period and if you will be paid on time (if ever!). Of course, it also depends on your situation. If you have some savings, then that definitely helps as a safety cushion. And if you’ve already built op a client portfolio, that also definitely minimizes the risk. However, it’s not the same security and stability as when having a full-time job.
If you like working with other people, then you need to take into account that as a freelancer, you will probably work alone. This can get quite lonely, and there is no one else you can discuss your work with. But this is why freelancers/digital nomads often work from co-working spaces, so that they can also connect with other, similar-minded people.
If you want to be a freelancer, you need to be aware that a lot of responsibility will fall on you. If you are not earning any money, it’s on you and you need to work harder. It seems easy, but it can cause a lot of stress, so don’t underestimate the responsibility that you would face as a freelancer.
A large part of the advantages of a full-time job is the financial stability it provides (though this can be disputed by some). You know that you will always receive your paycheck every month. So you’re never stressed about earning enough this month to break-even and most of the time you’re able to save some money as well.
Another pro is the working hours, though this depends on where you’re working. In the Netherlands though, work-life balance is extremely important, so in most companies, people usually leave at exactly 5 PM. Therefore, you know when’s the time for working and when you are free to relax. As a freelancer, you’re essentially running your own business, so you need to be ready for clients or work 24/7 basically. With a full-time job, the separation of work a play is much more clearly defined.
What I also like about a full-time job is that projects or whatever you are working on, are much longer (having a job is essentially one big project). As a freelancer, you will most likely have very short projects, and for some fields of work, such as UX in my case, this isn’t very challenging, as these mostly involve UI work.
Finally, whilst you mostly work alone as a freelancer, within a company you will most likely work in a team, so there’s also the social aspect to take into account.
Obviously, the lack of freedom and having to work every day from 9 to 5 is probably the biggest downside of having a full-time job. I honestly don’t believe that you can be productive from exactly 9 to 5, because it really depends on the person when he or she is productive. Some people are more productive in the morning, and other more in the evening, so why not let them work at their preferred time and tempo?
Another downside for me personally, is that working for a company sometimes feels like you’re a little wheel in a very large machine (though of course, this depends on also on the size of the organization). You’re working for someone else, and sometimes it can feel as if you’re not contributing to something meaningful. Though that could also be just me. Also, there can be a lot of bureaucracy, which means that it takes a long time to actually get something done or change something.
When working in a company, you will most likely be reporting to someone. So quite often, your job will be very much dependent on your manager. If you have a manager who loves to micromanage, well good luck to you. If you have a decent boss, then you should be good. However, if you’re not the type of person who likes to “follow orders”, then you’ll most likely want to reconsider getting a full-time job.
Again, it all also depends what kind of company you’re working for and what kind of job you do.
I hope this article has been somewhat insightful to you regarding the pros and cons of each type of work. Obviously, it also depends on what you do and your situation as well. You can have a really good employer and fun, full-time job with great benefits or the opposite. Similarly, as a freelancer, you can have a ton of great clients that have hired you for a longer-term, and give you a lot of freedom in what you do.
Do you have any questions or comments? Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comment section below!