This is a guest post by Jamie Roberts, a UK-based journalist. His passion for travel and writing has enabled him to live and work in Newcastle Upon Tyne, France, Belfast and Australia. You can follow Jamie on Twitter.
Let’s face it, being your own boss is a dream for most people. Making money for yourself, choosing when you work, and just being in charge. What’s not to like, right? These are the thoughts that are leading a large number of workers away from their secure jobs and onto the freelancing path.
The days spent dreaming of a 9-to-5 role are becoming a thing of the past. No longer does the average Joe want to be in such a rigid routine. In the United States, freelancers currently make up more than one third of the workforce. The millennial mentality is in full swing.
Better work-life balance is becoming a major employment factor. On top of that, new technology means that shifts don’t need to be set in stone. The role of a freelancer is appealing to a growing number of people. Here’s why:
Millennials want flexibility and freedom in their careers, with a focus on their lifestyle as well as their work.
The average working week increased by as much as seven hours in recent years. Seven out of 10 people say that they’d be inclined to search for a new role based on flexibility instead of money.
Flexible hours also allow you to work at a time when you are most productive. Everyone is different. Set working hours force everyone to work the same schedule, even if they aren’t going to produce their best work. With a flexible working day, you can organise your workload to work when you’re most productive and focused.
One in five of us are chronic procrastinators, and the average American procrastinates for 34 minutes during their working day. Being able to organise your work schedule to suit you could help reduce procrastination. And it’s not just your working day you can be flexible with if you’re a freelance.
Freelance journalist Shane Donaghey believes that flexibility was key to his decision to change his career path. “I’ve always wanted to do the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain,” he says. “I took a month off from my day-to-day tasks and completed it before time ran away from me.
“Being freelance means I can tell any employers when I’m not available, meaning if anything crops up I won’t miss out due to work commitments. I tend to give any employers access to my Google Calendar so they can see my availability. Being able to have this option means my work-life balance has significantly improved.”
On average, the daily commute in America currently takes 26 minutes. This increased by a massive 20% since 1980. Not only is the work week longer, but commuting wastes time.
A recent employee satisfaction survey discovered that a third of tech professionals were looking for a new role because they’d prefer to work away from the office. Freelancing can provide this platform. Eighty percent of respondents who were contractors said that they worked entirely remotely compared to only 16% of permanent staff.
Nathan Murphy, the chief web designer and owner of GoInspire, said this was a main factor in his decision to go it alone. “I’m not a fan of the 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday schedule,” he says.
“I decided I wanted to work my own schedule and on my own terms. Last year I was able to work remotely in Malta so it’s great to be able to support yourself when traveling. A lot of my clients are US and UK-based so it’s nice to be able to have that international aspect to the business too. The power of the internet means that you never need to be in the same office in order to get a job done.”
It’s also believed that those who work remotely tend to be more likely to incorporate physical exercise into their routine as they are able to plan it into their day. With a healthier worker said to take on average two less sick days per year, this is an important factor in working away from the office.
Be Your Own Boss
You choose your working day. You negotiate your pay. You are in charge. It is predicted that 50% of the workforce will be freelancers by 2020. Millennials believe that permanent jobs are becoming obsolete and aspire to run their own business instead of working for someone else.
A survey of 18-34 year-olds by UBS found that over three-quarters of respondents are likely to set up their own company, with nine percent having already done so.
The pull of self-employment is beginning to outweigh the security blanket of full-time employment. Millennials believe that this will see them earning more than their parents. The opportunity allows you to work with more than one company at the same time. That means with good planning, it’s possible to earn several wages at once.
With reward comes risk. Not everyone will succeed as a freelancer. The role brings a lot of added pressure to everyday life. Unlike a full-time position, freelancing does not guarantee you a set wage, unless you have continuous work with a company. A recent survey found that 80% of UK freelancers are living in poverty.
Many who choose to go it alone do so as a side hustle to begin with. Over time, they build strong enough contacts to break away from the comfort zone of their full-time role. Without a strong group of contacts, freelancers can often struggle to keep the workflow at a level that is financially sustainable.
As more decide to try their hand at freelancing, competition for work will become fiercer. However, with many sites, such as Airtasker and Freelancer, allowing people to ‘bid’ on jobs posted by the public and businesses, there is a constant stream of work propositions available.
Yes, it’s a lot of hard work and there is a chance that you could fail, but the perks outweigh the risks with the correct planning and focus. While it may be tough at first, by continuing to build contacts and planning your workload, becoming a freelancer could have so many great gains. It could lead to a higher financial turnover, a higher sense of freedom, and a greater work-life balance.
So, what are you waiting for? Become a freelancer and discover your dreams.