Thinking About Quitting? 6 Major Benefits of Being a Freelancer

Thanks to the advent of technology, the way we work has significantly shifted — and a new era of freelance work has emerged to support new business models, value systems, and migratory patterns. According to Upwork and Freelancers Union’s Freelancing in America: 2016 report, More than ⅓ of Americans (55 million people) currently participate in freelance work, and that number is expected to multiply in the coming years.

There’s a reason for this shift to decentralized labor; freelancing empowers individuals to set their own schedules, be selective about what companies and projects they elect to take on, and work from literally anywhere. Workers now have the ability to better dictate the parameters of their work, and truly consider what they want out of their career — down to the specifics of where they’ll be working from on the day to day and what exactly they’ll be working on.

Though it can be daunting trying to strike out on your own, these are many reasons why more and more workers are motivated to become independent workers. Here are six of the top benefits of working as a freelancer:

Better pay.

Contracting and freelancing can be more lucrative than working a permanent role, and this is one of the top motivators for independent workers. With the opportunity to engage in multiple projects at once, freelancers can take home more than they normally would with a single base salary. While it’s unlikely that you’ll make more right out of the gate, as you establish yourself and build your portfolio, you’ll be able to increase your hourly rate and hone your pitch to prospective clients, allowing you to make and save more. Want to know your worth on the freelance market? Consult this hourly rate infographic to get an idea of what you could ask for given your current experience and skills.

Flexibility.

As a freelancer, you’re able to dictate your schedule. For night owls, it can be challenging to adjust your hours of productivity to the standard 9-5 day job desk sentence. As a freelancer, you can take into consideration your own preferences and structure your working hours in a way that works best for you. Many freelancers take the opportunity to complete work outside of regular work hours, and use some of those hours for working on side projects, investing in hobbies and classes, having a family, and many other things that can fall to the wayside if you’re constrained to a strict work schedule.

Autonomy.

Beyond an increase in daily flexibility, freelancers also have more control over their long term plans. Not having to rely on strict PTO offers the opportunity for some to spend significant chunks of the year working on their own businesses, taking long vacations or taking some time off. While it’s not for everyone, some choose to stack multiple projects for 6-9 months at a time, then spend the remaining time as they see fit, without having to worry about their source of income.

Choose only the work you want.

On the permanent side of the workforce, it’s often necessary to navigate politics and bureaucracy in order to progress in your career. Additionally, it can take a lot of time and investment before being able to pivot or really find what you’re passionate about working on. As a contractor you can be extremely intentional about the projects that you choose, thus exercising more control over what your portfolio covers. This presents the opportunity to be more specific about where you want to take your skills and your career. Without the additional barriers of navigating internal promotions and processes, contractors are able to put more time into advancing their skills and navigating towards working exclusively on projects that they find most interesting.

More opportunity to learn (and faster).

Though it’s cited as one of the top barriers for entry to freelancing, establishing yourself as an independent contractor offers the opportunity for you to learn a lot about employment classification, managing finances, accounting, taxes, project management, building a book of business, and more. While it can be a lot to take on and can definitely feel overwhelming in the beginning, it truly expands your realm of knowledge and plants you firmly in the driver’s seat. Building this knowledge and familiarity is an ongoing process, and exploring tools like Asana, Bonsai, etc can help you find your footing and establish consistency as a contractor.

Be part of a movement.

Networking is an additional perk that many independent workers take advantage of for a few reasons. First, expanding your network is crucial if you want to line projects up and not be grasping for work whenever a project is finished. Working independently can get a little lonely, but luckily there’s a vibrant community of like-minded independent workers who are eager and motivated to make it as freelancers. Building a strong community of freelancers can help you find additional projects, manage your finances, polish your portfolio, and keep on top of newest skills and trends in the industry.

Ready to start contracting? Sign up for Hired and get matched with freelance work today.

About the Author

Chery Sutjahjo

Chery is a Talent Strategist for Hired based in New York City.