loading...
Cover image for Here's How You Know Whether You Should Be A Freelancer Or A Full-Time Employee
Skill Pathway

Here's How You Know Whether You Should Be A Freelancer Or A Full-Time Employee

matthew_collison profile image Matthew Collison Updated on ・4 min read

It's an inevitable decision: do I brave it going freelance, or do I go for the safety and comfort of a full-time job? And most people end up never knowing for sure. This is whether you're a beginner looking for their first career move, or you're in one and thinking of switching.

There almost always is an answer though, and it's really contextual to your preferences. The purpose of this article is to really give you much more information so you can gain clarity on what you really want to do. So let's get straight into it.

You must ask yourself these questions first

  • Are you someone who is happy to deal with clients on a daily basis?
  • Are you happy cold calling and dealing with a lot of rejections on projects? (unless of course you go to a freelance marketplace)
  • Do you mind being solely responsible for all the work you put out?
  • Are you able to deal with an inconsistent income and cashflow for at least the first few months?
  • Are you happy chasing clients for invoices? (Although you can get an accountant do to this)
  • Am I driven enough to consistently look for work in a competitive marketplace?

If your answer is no to any of those questions, chances are, you simply aren't suited for freelance work. You can develop these skills, but you need to put a concious effort into working on all the things that revolve around it:

  • Dealing with rejection
  • Cashflow management & budgeting
  • Invoice terms & how to chase effectively
  • Selling your services to cold leads or Optimizing freelance bids within online marketplaces

So now you understand what it takes to be a freelancer, let's look at some pros and cons of each so you can weigh up what you really value.

Freelancing

  • Pros:
  • You can work on your own schedule
  • You can earn a lot more money when you get a steady flow of clients (full-time employed will generally have a lower hourly rate)
  • You can take breaks when you want (if you have earned the money)
  • You don’t report to anybody so aren’t dealing with managerial issues that might arise

  • Cons:

  • Clients can be difficult to deal with, sometimes

  • Invoices will get paid late

  • Income can be inconsistent if you haven’t found enough work

  • You’ll need to gain a reputation first and this will mean far, far more rejection when applying for jobs or finding leads in the beginning

  • You can actually end up working far more hours if you’re not smart about the types of clients you take on board and don’t manage expectations properly

  • Being fully responsible for your success can become a strain if you’ve not developed the emotional intelligence

Full-Time Employment

  • Pros:
  • Consistent income - you know when your money is coming in and how much
  • Health insurance (US specific, and not with all jobs)
  • You don’t have the full weight of a business on your shoulders - there is generally a team to share responsibility with
  • You will usually have direct mentors to work with that will help you progress in your career
  • Holiday/Sick Pay

  • Cons:

  • You’re stuck to a specific work schedule, although some jobs do offer flexitime

  • You’re sometimes at the mercy of difficult managers - although if you find yourself in that situation, we recommend you act and try and find a different job. most people begin to feel stuck in this situation

  • You can only have a certain amount of time off, unless you take time off unpaid

  • Your earning potential isn’t as much as with freelance contracts and the salary rise may be slow (varies from company to company)

  • You may have to deal with ego in the workplace if you’ve joined a difficult team
    There are a lot of “Ifs” in these pros and cons, so take it with a pinch of salt, but these are the general benefits / difficulties found in both paths.

So there you have it - hopefully you have far more information to base your decision off than before you read this post. There's one more important thing though

Self-awareness and context

Just because you decide "today" that you want to become a freelancer or full-time employee, doesn't mean that will always be your decision.

You need to make the best choice in the context of the present moment. Perhaps you have the tenacity it takes to make it freelance but you have a family to provide for right now so need consistent income. In this case, maybe you should work towards saving so you can give freelance a go.

Or maybe you want to gain some experience in the workplace before going freelance...

Maybe you need to work on your self-confidence before making a decision because you still feel completely unsure about yourself.

Just remember this; your choice isn't set in stone, and you can always switch if you need to.

We hope this article helped, but if you need an answer more specific to you, please leave a comment down below - we reply to absolutely everything.

We help people do what they love for a living

We are running online code bootcamps this year, and also provide free courses for beginners to show them ropes in web development.

To check us out and register for our free crash course in web development, visit the Skill Pathway website.

Posted on by:

matthew_collison profile

Matthew Collison

@matthew_collison

I run an educational media brand called Skill Pathway, and host The Learning Developers Podcast. Experienced Full-Stack Engineer that wants to change lives and help millions of people into tech.

Skill Pathway

We help budding developers land their dream job. We do this through our free courses, articles, podcasts and tutorials covering a range of topics from mindset, coding skills, career advice and much more.

Discussion

markdown guide
 

This is really helpful because I have been considering switching to freelance for some time but I have a lot of doubts. Does any one think trying it and failing could somehow make it harder to go back to a full-time job later?

 

Hi Jose, great question and this is a worry a lot of people have.

We're composed of professionals who have worked in hiring positions for multiple years.

Everyone here agrees that a perceived "failed" freelance stint would not affect their hiring decision negatively... If anything, it could make you more favourable.

This is because you would have most certainly learned some lessons when giving freelance a go. It also shows you have a lot of tenacity.

Inevitably, there will be the occasional hiring manager who looks at freelance experience or a career gap and thinks "this shows they're not committed", but this is far rarer than people worry about - and we'd ask you this - would you want to work with such an opinionated, uninformed manager anyway?

So you can always go full-time again. Now it's down to you to make sure it's practical!

Hope this helps!