Last year, Contently surveyed hundreds of freelancers for their annual State of Freelancing report and found that while the average full-time freelancer makes less than they would in-house, the majority of them plan on staying freelance for the next 10 years or more. Not only that: 65% believed their lives had improved over the past year despite their meager paychecks.
There are some powerful intangible-benefits to working for yourself. Right now, 34% of the workforce is made up of freelancers, but that number is expected to grow to 40% by 2020. If you are one of the 6% thinking of making the leap, consider these 4 intangible benefits of going freelance.
One of the benefits of choosing your own projects is the ability to become a specialist. Not only is specialization often better for your career (Stanford thinks so anyway) it can also be better for your happiness. As your skill at a particular task increases, you are more likely to enter into a state of “flow,” where time flies and you become completely absorbed in your work. As best as science can tell, people who enter “flow” most often are the happiest people on the planet. Don’t you want to be one of the happiest people on the planet?
If you work in a creative agency, you know how toxic it can become. The creative team hates accounts, accounts hates sales, the VPs do nothing but take clients out for drinks, etc. When you go freelance and you’re forced to do all of the above, you are given an invaluable gift: perspective. It suddenly becomes clear how valuable everyone’s role is. If you ever go back to in-house work (and, according to the survey, you probably won’t) you will be one of the few who can see and understand the whole picture.
Active vs. Passive
Active is better than passive. That’s not just a formula for a good sentence, it’s a formula for a good life. Freelancing forces you to lean forward, take control. You want work? You go get work. And you’ll enjoy doing the work more because you are the one who got it. A common ailment of in-house employment is passivity. Clients come to you, projects come to you, paychecks come to you. You don’t have to go get anything for yourself, and so it’s easy to take it all for granted.
It’s tempting to think that working in-house comes with job security. Unfortunately, job security is always an illusion. We are all constantly in danger of getting fired, laid-off, demoted ¾ take your pick. The only real form of job security is knowing what you are good at, how valuable it is, and how to sell it. Freelancing might not be the most stable career, but once you get the hang of it, it is always secure.
We know you’ve already been thinking about going freelance. Here’s some honest encouragement: you might make less money, but you’ll definitely be happier.
And now, for the visual learner, our anthropological comparison of an in-houser vs. a freelancer. You decide who you want to be: