Freelancing or Full Time: What is the Right Choice for You?

21/04/2017 47 comments

What path will your career take? Will you take freelancing or full time work? There are pros and cons to both, so the answer is never the same for two people and the decision is ultimately yours. However, before you make it, you should look carefully at both sides and see what working as a freelancer or a contractor offers, versus what working full time or on a salary offers.

I’m going to take a look at both and hopefully, after reading this article you’ll be better able to choose between freelancing or full time.

How Does Flexibility Help You Choose Between Freelancing or Full Time?

Freelancing or full time which offers better balance

Freelancing is a good choice for those who require more flexibility that a 9-5 job can offer them. In other words, if you want to spend more time around your family or friends, or just want to be able to take a break whenever you want without someone objecting to it, you would pick freelancing. Of course, this doesn’t mean that as a freelancer you can neglect your work, watch YouTube or hang with friends all day.

Work still must be done and deadlines have to be met. As a freelancer, you’ll sometimes have to do an all-nighter to finish a project, just because you were too lazy to do it on time. Otherwise, you’re going to have one angry client, who after this, may not want to hire you again for another project. Congratulations, you have just lost a client and will likely have to spend another week or even a month chasing another gig.

As a full time employee, you have significantly less flexibility. Typically, you have to be at work at 9:00 AM, you can’t take a break whenever you want and you have to stay at work until the end of work hours, which is normally eight hours. That said, there are some companies, usually startups, that challenge the 9 to 5 way of working and allow  a more their employees to work on a more flexible time, but these are still rare and the 9-5 remains a norm and what you can expect for any full time job.

Does Job Security Impact Your Choice Between Freelancing or Full Time Significantly?

Whereas flexibility looks like a good reason to choose freelancing, with job security, it’s a very different story. As a freelancer, you will often spend a lot of your time on hunting new clients and projects. This may not be so much of a problem if you’re an established freelancer and can leverage client referrals and testimonials to your advantage and use them to seize new opportunities. But as a relatively new freelancer, with not much work behind you, it can be a bit harder to do so.

This is why it’s so important to make sure you stay on good terms with your clients, even the ones you are leaving and try not to burn any bridges behind you. You never know when you might need a good word from them, a referral to a new client or a testimonial. If you parted on good terms and you’ve done a good job while working with them, they’ll be more than happy to help.

On the other side, working full time generally offers more security. It’s a lot harder to get fired as a full time employee from a company, then as a freelancer. In fact, most clients hire freelancers for very short and quick projects, something they can use to complement their big projects. These others, however, they keep in-house most of the time and that means, they get done by their own, in-house people.

Of course, job security today isn’t what it used to be 10 or 20 years ago. Businesses close or get sold, and with them employees lose their jobs. When that happens, it can be difficult for them to find work elsewhere, depending on how much their profession is sought after. And, some jobs just offer more security than others. According to MarketWatch, in 2016, chiropractic offered the best job security of all in the US.

How Can Work Environment Influence Your Decision?

Who you work with matters

You decision and the choice between freelancing or full time can also be influenced by your work environment. This includes the people you may or may not have the opportunity to work with, such as your boss or colleagues, first and foremost. Why? Because it is the human relationship that determines whether a company will work well or not. There’s always some office politics and as a full timer, it can be nearly impossible to avoid such a toxic environment.

As a freelancer, you will often work alone in your room, or choose another place to write your article like a coffee shop. That’s usually one of the first reasons people choose freelancing over full time work. But there’s another side to this. If you’re a people person and like to be surrounded with other individuals, freelancing suddenly stops being such a good option and a good watercooler chat suddenly becomes very inviting (even if it’s only to gossip).

Working long hours alone can sometimes get depressing and tedious, but fortunately, you have a lot more ways to vent out as a freelancer than as a full time employee. For instance, at any time, if you’re stuck on a particular part of a project, you can simply get up, take a long walk, go running, visit a gym or play some hoops until you drive away that stress. Or, if you’re unhappy with a client, you can get rid of them. You just don’t have this freedom when working full time.

Are You In it for the Benefits?

If you are, then the choice is pretty clear between freelancing or full time job. When working on a salary, you have access to all sorts of benefits, such as health insurance, parental leave, paid vacation and finally a pension. Also, the company may offer training to its employees, or some other benefits such as memberships or discounts. You’ll get none of these benefits if you’re a freelancer and you’ll for the most part be on your own.

As a freelancer, you’ll often wait to take the necessary time-off until the last moment. Why? Well, because freelancers can’t afford to take prolonged breaks. In fact, one of the toughest decisions you have to make as a freelancer is to leave work and go on a vacation. Yes, you can do it any time you want and all you really have to do is send an email to the client informing them of your decision before hand. You won’t get fired for it or anything like that, but you also won’t get paid.

In addition, as a freelancer, you also have to pay for your own life and health insurance. plan your retirement and also arrange your own training. These can all take a long time for an individual to do, especially when you also have to worry about working on current projects, looking for new jobs, negotiating your terms with new clients, sending invoices and many, many other things. Fortunately, it gets easier if you use the right freelance tools.

What’s the Verdict? Freelancing or Full Time Work?

So where does this leave us and which is better, freelancing or full time working? There’s no clear winner and, as I said at the beginning, there are pros and cons to both and even these are not as clear-cut as you may think them to be. For instance, we saw that, while freelance offers more flexibility, but you still have to meet deadlines, or that full time work provides more security, but losing a job is still a very real possibility.

In general here are the pros and cons for both:

Freelancing pros:

  • Choose who you’ll work with
  • Flexibility
  • Choose your work hours
  • Often more opportunities for projects
  • Work on projects that interest you

Freelancing cons:

  • Less financial security
  • No benefits whatsoever
  • Has to wear multiple hats at the same time
  • Projects can often be very short and time between them long

Full time pros: 

  • More financial security
  • Job security is also greater
  • Health insurance, life insurance, paid vacation, pension and other benefits are available to you
  • You can always find someone to talk to

Full time cons:

  • Much harder to leave an employer
  • Balancing your personal life and work can be hard
  • You often have to stick to a schedule and not a lot of opportunities to change that

That said, the final say is yours and you have to pick between freelancing or full time job. Let me know in the comments below which one do your prefer and why.