Is Self Employment the Key to Happiness? Pros and Cons of Freelancing

The self-employed seem to have the best of both worlds, able to work but able to make time for their family life too. But is it the right decision for you?

Freelancing is sold as the Holy Grail of a career.

You’ve got your own hours, swan around with a Macbook under your arm and sit in a coffee shop sipping your Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino while tapping away delicately.

But there’s much, much more to it than that.

There are plenty of cons to working for yourself, and if you’re unsure as to whether it’s the right decision for you, here are some positives and negatives to help you weigh up your decision.

Pro: Work/life balance

One of the biggest draws for anyone considering going freelance is that you can better balance your work and home life. Often people choosing to go freelance want to do so because they have commitments at home such as young children or caring for a relative.

Being freelance allows you to set your own working hours, providing you get your projects handed in on time.

Other than that you’re completely free to set your own schedule – if midnight is when you work best then midnight it is! Or if you’re more switched on in the morning and less so in the afternoon then that’s how you should work.

Con: Isolation and distraction

However, working your own hours comes at a price. If you choose to work antisocial hours then you’ll have less human interaction, which means you could become isolated to your work.

Even if you work regular hours while freelancing your social interaction is limited as you aren’t working in an office filled with other people.

As well as being more isolated than usual, working on your own can mean you’re tempted into distraction. You don’t have the pressure of targets to meet or a boss staring over your shoulder, so it can be easy to take your eye off the ball and let your work-ethic slip.

One way to manage this is to give yourself a timetable to work from, or small goals to accomplish throughout the day.

Pro: Managing your own projects

One of the positive aspects of freelancing is that you have the ability to pick and choose your projects, working on those that intrigue you most and that you find more interesting.

Managing your own projects also means that you don’t need to work with others – which can be a pro and a con. While you have fewer hands on deck to get the task completed, you are able to make sure everything’s done to your own standard, which is definitely a positive if you’re a perfectionist.

Con: Donning many hats

As a freelancer you’re effectively a one man/woman business, and because of this you need to wear a lot of business hats.

You’re in charge of marketing yourself, setting up your contracts, ironing out any terms and conditions and chasing up late payments. You’re also the one who has to deal with bookkeeping and tax returns, which can be the bane of many a freelancers’ life.

This can be exciting in the short term but after a while working on so many different business aspects can be draining, especially if you thought you were going to be able to work on whatever you wanted.

One way of avoiding freelance burnout is to make sure you’re well-read on each topic you have to cover. The more information you have the easier it will be, so don’t underestimate the power of a good book!

Pro: Being your own boss

As a one man/woman band, you’re in charge of yourself and answer to you, you and you alone.

This can be both daunting and incredibly empowering, especially if you’ve worked for someone else for a long time. Being your own boss means you set the standards, and while this can get stale, you can always push yourself out of your own comfort zone and work on areas you want to improve on, rather than ones that fit into the businesses overall plan.

Con: On your head be it

When you’re an employee there are always other people on your team and who are able to share any heat for mistakes.

If you don’t make targets it’s usually as a result of the team, rather than one person letting everyone down.

However as a freelancer, everything is one your own head. If you bring in less one month than another month, it can be easy to blame yourself as you’re the only one doing the work.

After a while this can become an issue and can make maintaining a steady income more stressful than bringing home a paycheque from a full time job.

There are plenty of things to consider when going freelance, but what are your thoughts? Are freelancers simply stressed out millennials trying to make the gig economy work for them or are there more positives than negatives? Leave your comments in the section below or get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook?