The 9-to-5 life can feel monotonous. If you don’t love your job, waking up to spend your entire day in an office can seem dull, drab and never-ending. But is there really anything you can do to escape that?
Many of us dream of the day we can quit our jobs. Unfortunately, outside of winning the lottery or inheriting a trust you never knew about, not many of us can quit, never to return to work again. However, if you’re not loving life in an office, you do have another option: freelancing.
Freelancing is a great way to do what you love, set your own hours and control how much you make. But is the world of freelancing really that great of an option? According to 79% of freelancers surveyed by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, the answer is yes.
The State of Freelancing Today
For many years, “freelancing” seemed to be synonymous with “unemployed.” If someone wasn’t working a traditional 9-to-5 job, it probably meant that they were struggling to get hired. Today, that definitely isn’t the case.
More and more people are taking advantage of the benefits of freelancing. Because the internet makes it easier than ever to connect with clients, get paid and track projects and processes, freelancing is easier than ever — making it a viable option when deciding whether to take on a traditional full-time job.
About six in 10 freelancers said they went into freelancing because they wanted to. Being able to choose which projects to take on, what price to charge and what hours to work are just some of the benefits of freelancing as a career. In fact, over 80% of freelancers said they felt respected, empowered and excited about their work day.
Why Are People Choosing to Freelance?
There are many different reasons why people choose to join the freelance community. From wanting to take control of their time and being able to set their own hours, to supplementing income from a full-time job, those in the freelance world are incredibly diverse.
In July 2016, there were about 55 million people freelancing in the United States. That is up two million in the past two years, making up a total of over 35% of the entire U.S. workforce. However, this number includes both individuals who freelance full-time and part-time.
In general, we see that those who choose to freelance full-time make the decision to have control of their hours and take advantage of their freedom. Many part-time freelancers take on freelance jobs to make some extra money for their household.
Others choose to freelance to have more time with their family, to do work they’re passionate about or to have the option of working wherever they want. Freelance work can be a great way for stay-at-home mothers to advance their career and bring in some income, while also being there as their children grow up.
Can You Make Money Freelancing?
One of the biggest questions people have when it comes to freelancing is whether or not you can make money. When you’re considering quitting your job, you need to worry about paying your bills and maintaining your lifestyle.
The truth is it all depends on the effort you put into it. When you’re freelancing, you’re totally in charge of the projects you get, the rates you set and how much you get paid — but you still need to do the work to find clients and keep them coming back. With that said, over half of freelancers interviewed said they made more freelancing than they did at their last full-time job.
However, it is important to note that freelancers are also burdened with expenses that traditional employees don’t have. As a freelancer, you’re subject to self-employment tax, and you’re not provided with the benefits a traditional employer may give you — such as retirement contributions and health insurance.
So while a freelancer may have a higher per-hour rate than a traditional employee, it’s not all going straight into their pocket. These additional expenses have been factored into their project rates.
Will Freelancing Really Make You Happier?
Freelancing isn’t right for everyone. Without the stability of a consistent paycheck or the benefits provided by an employer, there are a few reasons why embarking on a freelancing career could actually be more stressful for you and your family than working a traditional career.
Knowing whether or not freelancing will be the right move for you will depend on your personal values and career goals. If you long for stability and routine, freelancing probably won’t improve your job satisfaction. But if you want to do work you’re passionate about on a schedule you can control, freelancing could be just the career change you’ve been looking for.
While the majority of those questioned in the Upwork and the Freelancers Union survey wouldn’t return to a traditional 9-to-5 job for any amount of money, be sure to test the waters before you take the full plunge. When you’re ready to become a full-time freelancer, be sure to have a plan.
Freelancing isn’t easy work, but it does provide many benefits that a traditional 9-to-5 can’t.