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Pros and cons of freelancing
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Pros and cons of freelancing

Things to consider before you start freelancing as a creative. In this article, Dr Steven Sparling discusses some pros and cons of freelancing.
Kingston's metal workshop room. A large room with ceiling strip lights filled with large machinery.
© Kingston University

Every freelancer has their own reasons for pursuing freelancing.

Some freelance because they love being their own boss, deciding what projects they want to take on, being able to manage their own time, and like the idea of growing a freelance business.

Others get laid off from a job and decide to do it themselves or relocate to a new area where there are no employment opportunities in the area they want to work in, so they decide to freelance.

Freelancing as a side hustle

If you are currently working in a role in your field, you might want to consider starting to freelance on the side so you can build up your freelance business while you are still getting your regular salary. You won’t have as much time to put into your freelance business, but you will also avoid the panic of suddenly having to earn a lot of money as a freelance to keep on top of your bills. If you can start your business while still in employment, it is an advisable way to start your freelance business.

Before you quit

While you are still in employment, consider if there are any trainings or skill development opportunities through your existing employment that you can take advantage of before you go off on your own – bearing in mind that as a freelancer you will be responsible for paying for your own training, so might as well get in all that you can while in employment.

Finally, educate yourself about any limitations in your existing employment contract about non-compete or ‘poaching clients’ – meaning trying to take current clients with you when you leave. Some contracts have restrictive clauses that specify you are not able to do this. You may be able to freelance for existing clients or your contract may restrict this, so best to educate yourself about this.

Starting out as a freelancer

If you are not in employment, you need to consider if you have enough savings to cushion yourself while you start-up your business.

If you do have some savings you can use, best to make yourself a lean budget to stretch your money out as long as you can. Otherwise, you may need to take some kind of employment to keep your rent and bills covered while you launch a freelance business. Often it takes longer than freelancers think to gain regular clients so consider what other kinds of jobs you might be able to do on the side while you develop your freelance business.

So, having laid out these possibilities lets return to considering some of the PROS and CONS of freelancing.

PROS

  • You get to be your own boss, meaning you get to make the decision about which clients you will work for, what kind of work you will do, how much you will charge, etc.
  • You have the potential to earn more money, or at least to keep more of the money you earn from your work. When in employment, you receive your salary, but if you hustle hard or get bigger/better clients, your income doesn’t necessarily go up; however, as a freelancer, you must cover your own business overhead, but are able to keep more of the profit for yourself.
  • Creative freedom. You can tailor your freelance offering to be specifically the kind of creative work you want to do with clients who are looking for that special kind of creative work. Online working and our global economy mean that even highly specialised practices can find clients (with the right marketing) for what they offer, which allows you to be more niche in what you offer.
  • Flexibility with your time. You might decide you only want to work 4 days a week. Or take summers off. Or go surfing every morning and work afternoons and evenings. You can work around childcare or parental care or adapt your work schedule to help you accommodate a disability. You get to decide how your time is allocated.

CONS

  • Uncertainty. In giving up a regular salary, you must accept that you will never be entirely sure where your next money is coming from. This can be unnerving for some. We’ll talk later about some strategies to help balance this, but you need to consider that money will not necessarily come in regular instalments, and you will have to manage that.
  • Competition. In some freelance areas there is a lot of competition from other freelancers. If you aren’t careful and strategic this can drive the prices down to unsustainably low levels for your work. To combat this, you will want to be sure you stay abreast of industry developments, are able to offer more highly skilled work, develop a loyal customer base, and commit to regular marketing of your work to targeted audiences. This can help to overcome this downward spiral.
  • Unpredictability. When you work for clients, you need to be able to respond to their timelines. Sometimes this might clash with your own needs or timelines. How you will handle this is crucial. If you absolutely can’t work past 4pm because you must do school pick-up, you will need to be sure this is communicated clearly to any clients you engage with. Or have back-up. Or both.

This list is not exhaustive. Please use the discussion box to share your own pros and cons about freelancing.

© Kingston University
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Survive & Thrive as a Creative Freelancer: A Beginner's Guide

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