For self-starters, life as a freelancer can be a challenging but rewarding lifestyle.
When I tell people I'm a full-time freelancer, I receive mixed a bag of responses. Sometimes folks say something along the lines of, "I could never do that" or "I don't have the discipline to be self-employed." Other times, people ask me how I do it and how they can, too.
Freelancing is certainly an acquired taste. It's not for everyone. It can be a full-time side hustle, where you can spend your entire day marketing on social media, following up with potential client prospects, answering emails, and updating your accounting records without completing any paid work. And when it comes to setting your rates, getting low-balled is all too common.
"I've experienced low wages from publications for my writing, and disregarded for employment opportunities as a full-time staff writer because I was not formally trained at a journalism school," said freelance writer Taylor Crumpton.
Marginalized freelancers still face the gender wage gap, since women can be hired for the same project for less pay. This gap increases for women of color, especially if they are LGBTQ, as well as non-binary people of color.
"When you're a marginalized person, whether it's being a PoC, a woman/non-binary/trans, etc., your opportunities are limited," added pop culture freelance writer Tatiana Tenreyro. "Freelancing also makes marginalized people lose the opportunity to have health insurance, or at least better health insurance and financial stability."
But there are advantages to freelancing, too. For self-starters and ambitious go-getters, life as a freelancer can be a great challenge and a rewarding lifestyle. It can also be an empowering profession for those who are unable to work in a traditional office setting, especially for disabled people and new parents.
Business.com talked with four freelancers about their favorite parts of the gig.
You can follow your passion.
Being a freelancer allows you to have freedoms that those on staff don't have. In newsrooms, for instance, journalists are often assigned stories and tend to receive more direction from their editors. On the other hand, freelance writers are able to use their creativity in generating ideas and the directions of their stories.
"I enjoy freelance writing because it gave me an opportunity to advocate using my voice," Crumpton said. "Despite its faults, I can vision a career in freelancing because I have an opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts with a broad audience."
Since freelancers have more control over who they work with and what they work on, they can always count on being interested in and engaged with their work passionately.
"I like being able to decide what I want to work on and have control over where I can publish my writing," Tenreyro explained. "Even though I have to depend on publications to accept my pitches, there's a great amount of freedom in not having to be assigned work I don't like and focusing on pieces I feel are important to me."
Also, freelancers aren't limited to a specific topic, genre or beat. No matter what your trade — graphic design, photography, web development — you are free to jump from industry to industry, rather than sticking with just one.
"I love freelancing because it allows me to pursue stories I'm interested in and I'm not confined to one specific beat," said Tatiana Walk-Morris, a freelance journalist and founder of The Freelance Beat. "Most of my reporting falls within business and entrepreneurship, but I also branch out into personal finance, culture and health."
You can make your own schedule.
Since freelancers aren't confined to the 9-to-5 work day, we have the ability to create our own work schedules, whether we're an early riser or night owl. That way, we can work at our own pace and spread our energy over several projects.
"I like freelancing because I can work on my own time and terms and have the ability to multitask, especially with travel pieces," explained freelance writer Sarra Sedghi, who often writes about food and travel. "Whenever there's a lull in my day job, I can work on a story that's due at the end of the week."
Plus, the ability to create our own schedules can allow us to live a different kind of lifestyle. For many, it may mean packing up and becoming a globe-trotting digital nomad. Additionally, scheduling becomes a lot easier when dealing with clients in different time zones.
"Freelancing has also allowed me to have more control over my lifestyle," Walk-Morris added. "I choose the clients I work with and have more control over my schedule."
You'll always have job security.
Since freelancers are self-employed, you'll never have to worry about your job being in jeopardy. Those in staff jobs are vulnerable to receiving a pink slip if layoffs need to happen, and as a result, may be forced to compete with their colleagues to keep their jobs.
"Given that many journalists are impacted by layoffs, I feel somewhat more secure working for myself than I do for an employer," Walk-Morris mentioned. "While I'd like a full-time job someday, my freelance skill set enables me to continue reporting without worrying if I'll be laid off."
While there are many disadvantages to freelancing, there are many benefits that may be worth the cons, whether it's following your passion, creating your own schedule or job security.