Freelancing versus corporate employee: what is better?
Freelance work can seem like a fantasy, with no hard-to-please bosses, freedom to take vacation whenever you please and no set start and end time to your workday. There are plenty of positives, but freelance work comes with a set of struggles of its own. These are a few of the biggest pros and cons of freelance versus full-time work.
Clients versus bosses
Just because you are your own boss does not mean you get to make all of the decisions. Every full-time employee has boss horror stories, and every freelancer has client nightmares to match. While you can be slightly selective about what clients you take on, even the most established freelancers need to deal with difficult clients. Be it deadlines that are unclear or overly optimistic, vague or unrealistic expectations, arbitrary feedback, or a client that fails to pay on time; there will likely be unexpected challenges around each corner of your freelancing journey. A bad client can be just as frustrating as a tough boss.
Unlimited vacation versus paid vacation
At the top of the list of reasons people decide to enter the world of freelancing is for more days off, or at least more freedom to schedule work on your own time. Whether your goal is to spend more time with family or travel the world, time is the one thing we cannot gain more of in our lifetime. However, in most cases time off for a freelancer means less income or no income at all during a certain period of time. While many freelancers are able to take their work on the road or have established sources of passive income, a two-week vacation as a freelancer can be a daunting thought. Freelancers also don’t want a miss potential job, so checking email and sending work proposals on days off becomes the norm. In a full-time role, days off may be limited but your annual salary won’t be affected, and in an ideal situation, you can truly sign off from work and unplug.
Work from anywhere versus a dedicated desk
On weekdays, New York’s coffeeshops are flooded with freelancers on laptops in need of a place to work for the day. Finding a workplace as a freelancer can be stressful though, especially if you depend on fast WiFi to get your work done. Lots of freelancers choose to join coworking spaces, which offer “hot desks” that are first come first serve, or dedicated offices that can be rented monthly. Some coworking spaces resemble traditional offices, while others like KettleSpace take advantage of restaurants during their off-hours and provide freelancers with ample power outlets, WiFi, free coffee and an affordable space to meet and work. Having a coworking space can relieve some of the daily stress of finding a place to work from, but you still do need to remember to bring your charger and headphones each morning if you don’t have a dedicated desk to leave them at.
Invoicing versus guaranteed paychecks
Invoicing and tax season are two of the least desirable parts of freelancing, but also two of the most important. Unlike a full-time job that essentially guarantees a paycheck on a consistent schedule, freelancers need to spend a considerable amount of time sending invoices, following up on them and then navigating through complicated taxes if they do not hire an accountant. It is one of the most exhausting and often frustrating aspects of working for yourself, and something that is often overlooked when the the pros and cons of going freelance are considered.
So, whatever you decide, do not tread lightly on the trade-offs. Weigh the pros and cons of freelancing versus working as a corporate citizen carefully and root out the features most important to you.