A guest post from Desiree Villena – a talented writer working with Reedsy.com
10 Reasons to Consider Becoming a Freelancer
In today’s uncertain economy, one thing is certain: more people are freelancing than ever before. Fifty-seven million people are now freelancing in the U.S. — a whopping 35% of the American workforce. Meanwhile, the U.K.’s seen a 14% growth in freelancers over the past decade, and the number of freelancers increased by 43% in Europe in 2013 alone.
Why are all of these people turning to freelance work? And more importantly, should you consider freelancing yourself? Here are ten benefits of freelancing that you should consider when you decide whether to make the leap into this increasingly popular way of working.
1. You can work wherever you want
Workforces across the world are retreating from offices to the safety of their own homes, and this might be the foremost point in favor of freelancing on everyone’s mind right now. New remote work policies are getting quite a bit of attention these days in the media — partly, of course, due to COVID-19, but also because teleworking is beneficial to workers’ mental health and work-life balance. And freelancers get this perk automatically, as remote work comes part and parcel with freelancing.
The freedom that comes with location independence shouldn’t be underestimated. Want to work outside in the sunlight every once in a while? You can suddenly do that. Not a fan of wearing suits on a daily basis? That won’t be needed when you’re working from home. Hate that you have to spend $7 every day on either gas or metro tickets to get to your office in the first place? Location independence eliminates the commute. Which brings us to…
2. Zero commute
As Benek Lisefski wrote on The Startup, “What’s one of the main productivity killers across the globe? Commuting. Who likes commuting? Nobody.” Mega-commutes (90+ minutes) are becoming increasingly common in the United States, and the Washington Post once calculated that the average worker throws away 216 hours in a year just on the commute. That’s nine whole days — more than a week of your life spent taking the metro, riding the bus, or stuck in your car.
Freelancing enables you to save perhaps the most precious resource of all: time. Imagine waking up and being able to work a minute later. You would never have to factor your commute time into your morning routine ever again — and you could spend those nine days doing something that’s actually meaningful to you, whether that’s a hobby you’d like to perfect or spending extra time with your family.
3. Flexible hours and schedule
Speaking of time, this is one benefit of freelancing that can’t be ignored: the ability to take charge of your own schedule. Freelancers can determine every detail of their calendar, from the hours that they work per day all the way down to the days they work. In Upwork’s 2019 Freelancing in America report, researchers found that a huge 79% of full-time freelancers went freelance in order to have flexibility in their schedules.
That isn’t to say that a flexible timetable is an excuse to slack off: most freelancers work hard and know to hustle. However, it does mean that you have an unprecedented degree of control over your time and that you can create an agenda that works with personal habits and helps you achieve work-life balance.
4. Freedom to choose your own clients and projects
Being able to pick and choose your own projects may seem like a far-fetched dream when you’re holding down a corporate job, but it’s actually a reality for all freelancers.
Gone are the days of being handed unwanted assignments from above — instead, freelancing allows you to pursue projects that actually interest you. (Freelance editors on a marketplace, for instance, can decide which books they’d like to edit, depending on the genre and author of the book.) This perk is often underrated, but it’s no less important when it comes to how much you actually enjoy your work.
5. Hone your craft
And if you start freelancing today, prepare to be wowed by how much your own skills will improve a year down the line. Freelancers are masters of their craft by necessity: they have to be good at the skills that they offer in order to make a living. If Malcolm Gladwell claims that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a skillset, freelancers end up doubling that. It’s a double benefit: freelancing offers a way for you to hone this craft that you love — and then sell it.
6. Control your rates
Making money might be the most uncertain part of being a freelancer. On the one hand, your income stream is far from reliable when you’re a freelancer. On the other, you have the power to control your own rates — a benefit that shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when you become more established in the industry and can charge more for your services.
That said, it’s tricky to strike the right balance at the beginning. If you charge too much, you might scare off the client. But charging too little means that you risk signing up to work on a project that doesn’t pay you what you’re worth. At this stage, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the average rates in your niche and speak with fellow freelancers: this will help you get a better grasp of where to position your own rates.
7. Opportunity to earn more
While it is an uphill battle to make money when you first start freelancing, it is a proven fact that established freelancers earn more than the average American. Skilled freelancers earn a median rate of $28 an hour, which is a higher rate than 70% of workers in the overall U.S. economy. One of the keys to a higher payout? Freelancers can maintain multiple income streams. An experienced writer, for instance, can help clients out with anything from content creation and copywriting to ghostwriting jobs.
Ever hit a wall in productivity at work? Writers call it a writer’s block: that stretch of time when inspiration dries up and they can’t manage to get a single good word onto the page. But it applies to workers of all kinds — on some days, you’ll get a lot of work done, and on others, you’ll find that you just can’t produce anything at work.
Needless to say, the science behind productivity is complicated. One thing that studies have proven, however, is that different people are productive at different times of day. Some might be more productive in the morning, while others might find that they work best at night. It depends on the person, and every expert will tell you that it’s best to work during your peak productivity hours.
Because of the flexible schedule that freelancing grants you, taking advantage of this suddenly becomes possible. “All times of day are not created equal,” says Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing — but freelancing can balance it out for you much more.
9. Work that fulfills you
Beyond the much-touted catchphrase of “freedom” that freelancing allows, there’s the sense of fulfillment that comes with the work. Nearly all freelancers love the work that they do, and that in and of itself makes freelancing worth it. According to Upwork’s 2019 Freelancing in America Report, 71% of full-time freelancers reported that they started freelancing because they wanted to pursue work that they’re passionate about or find meaningful. And here’s the clincher: over half of the freelancers surveyed said that no amount of money would compel them to switch back to traditional employment.
10. You are your own boss
Finally, this is the overarching benefit for many an aspiring freelancer. When you freelance, you are your own boss, and that’s not an exaggeration. You get to call all of the shots, from your work schedule and vacation time to the projects that you take on. This newfound power over your future can be exhilarating — and, for many, it’s what makes freelancing truly worth it. If that prospect sounds exciting to you, chances are you may also take to life as a freelancer. Good luck!
Desiree Villena is a freelancer and writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories — and definitely takes advantage of her flexible work schedule to write when inspiration strikes.