Freelancing is a common, established and often successful way to work, particularly in the technology sector.
A report by the Freelancers Union states there are 53 million freelancers in the US, resulting in a $715 billion contribution to the economy. The UK has over 6.6 million self-employed workers, according to the ONS.
This global trend is actually growing (14% in one year). According to a 2016 report, of the thousands surveyed approximately 10% of Salesforce jobs were filled by freelancers. So why are so many people working for themselves, and what are some of the benefits and limitations of going at it alone?
The most obvious attraction to freelancing has to be freedom. Working for yourself means you have control over workplace and working pace. For some individuals this could be one of the greatest benefits and result in maximum efficiency, however, it’s important to consider personal working methods.
Some people need direction and a focused environment surrounded by supportive peers and fewer distractions. Be honest with where you fall in that. If you have the motivation, freelancing can give you the control to manage your own work-life balance.
Working alone, quite often remotely, can result in an isolated environment. Going freelance will mean you’re sacrificing office culture and colleagues who you can easily consult with. Additionally, consider how you may cope with potential effects on your social life. An office can create a community and you need to ensure you’re able to deal with that change in dynamic.
Luckily, with so many people working independently, there are now new communities worldwide to bring people together in their industries, in particular within the Technology sector. Browse sites such as meetup.com and social media outlets to find people in your area.
If you’re unsure about taking that final step, attend industry get-togethers and speak to others who are following a similar path. First-hand experience will be a truly valuable insight.
Job security is an important factor to consider when freelancing. Being self-employed naturally puts you at risk through being outside of contractual agreements and a sustained monthly salary.
That being said, according to a freelancer survey by Elance, ‘32% experienced an increase [in job opportunities] versus 15% who have seen a decrease’. This indicates that you’re more than likely to be able to sustain work, but consider factors such as market density and experience in the field, and how they could hinder opportunities.
By finding your niche, you can make sure you fall into the first part of that statistic. There are also lots of freelancing portals which can help you plug financial gaps, such as Fiverr and Freelancer. Whatever your industry, there is a job board for everything. Becoming established within these could help add stability to your income.
Freelance in Tech Income
Freelancers can expect to earn more when comparing incomes across internal and external staff, however, other factors must be considered. Sick, holiday, and compassionate pay are your own burden. The financial security offered by an employer is undeniably better, however, that’s not to say there isn’t money to be made when going at it alone, it’s just important you’re very vigilant and have realistic expectations.
Having said that, going freelance may also reduce your general spending. Working from home eliminates the need to commute, saving you money on travel and all the associated costs (vehicle insurance, parking permits, refreshments etc). You may find that your money actually goes a lot further than when you were in full-time work, though the lack of sick, holiday, or compassionate pay should make you more vigilant with your spending and saving.
It’s also important to consider being self-employed leaves you responsible for your own tax calculations. Wherever you are in the world, there are different rules and regulations. Before embarking upon the self-employed journey, make sure you’re aware of your legal financial obligations, and make use of the help that is available to you when getting started.
Key points to consider
- Prepare for a change in income – for better or worse
- Consider how you will be able to motivate yourself without the traditional working structure
- Ask yourself if you can stay happy without the community of an office environment
- Speak to people in technology who are already working freelance. Research of your niche will help you determine your potential