Are you thinking of quitting your full-time job to become a freelancer?
Before you make the switch (or not), make sure to go through this article at least once. I’ve been in your position so I know how it feels.
It’s not easy…
When I made the switch, I was already a married man. A lot of things hang in the balance, including my family’s financial future.
So let me paint you the complete, honest picture about freelancing vs full-time job and see for yourself whether making the switch is the right thing to do or not.
Let’s get started!
Table of contents:
- The Security of a Full-Time Job
- Why You Should Stay at Your Full-Time Job
- Why You Should Quit Your Full-Time Job
- The Shift to Freelancing
- What You Might Like About Freelancing
- What You Might Not Like About Freelancing
- What to do if you want to shift from full-time employment to freelancing?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Freelancing vs Full-Time Job
- Should you make the switch?
The Security of a Full-Time Job
To clarify, my definition of a full-time job is working for forty hours a week for a single company only. This is the traditional employment setting where you’re “hired” to do something and get compensated.
Before I freelanced, I worked at a local bank. My shift started at 8:30 in the morning and ends at around seven in the evening during normal days. When things were hectic, I had to stay in the office until midnight.
I worked there for nine months and built solid friendships with some of my colleagues. I will always be thankful to the bank for giving me a chance to work there.
You see, while you have a full-time job, there’s really no need to think about anything else. Your work will be given to you and you basically have to do the same thing every day.
You will also receive an expected amount of money as compensation based on your contract (including overtime pay).
Day after day, you work and do the same thing and get compensated for it every after fifteen days.
The security is there. You don’t have to find any other company while you’re working for them.
This is what’s so alluring with full-time employment.
Why You Should Stay at Your Full-Time Job
I may have switched, but I fully recognize the benefits that come with having a full-time job. This is the reason why I don’t force anyone to switch to freelancing — there certainly are valid points for not doing so.
Here are three primary reasons why you should hold on to your full-time job:
- Fixed income every month
- Healthy social life
- Additional perks and benefits
Many “freelance gurus” don’t recognize having a fixed income as an advantage. After all, why settle for less when you can have more?
But truth be told, having a fixed income is a big benefit of full-time employment. In fact, this is the number one reason why many people don’t make the switch to freelancing. I get it. I liked that benefit too.
Another benefit of working as a full-time employee is having an active social life.
Working full-time will give you a lot of colleagues or team members who you got to see every working day. Though it still depends on your job, chances are, you will never feel alone.
You’re not isolated in some personal space out there trying to solve a client’s problem. Your team or department might even schedule retreats and team-building activities where you get to bond with your officemates.
Lastly, working for a company full-time has perks like free health and dental care, insurance, and paid leaves. Some companies even provide free gym membership and funding for office equipment like laptops and cellphones.
In addition, you also don’t have to think about taxes and other payables. The company will do that for you so there’s really no hassle on your side.
This is one of the best perks that I like when I still worked at the bank. They will process the tax and other payables themselves and I don’t have to worry about a single thing or get an accountant to do the computation.
Why You Should Quit Your Full-Time Job
Our experiences differ. You might have seen more disadvantages than I did. However, what’s listed here are the most significant ones. Many here were actually part of the reason why I made the switch.
But here’s why you should consider quitting your full-time job:
- Monotonous tasks
- Less (or no) time for other things
- Long commute
- Less income
I admit, it actually depends on what your job is. If you’re having fun at what you’re doing, then you should definitely stick to your full-time job.
But in my case, collecting and counting money could get boring really fast. In fact, I remember one time when I was so bored that I started bringing in books to read when we were traveling.
When you pair up monotonous tasks with having less time to learn new things, you will feel dull. That’s exactly what I felt. Since I got home in the evening and had to leave early in the morning, I didn’t have much time for anything else.
I had to travel two hours a day from our home to the office and back. In a week, that’s 10 to 20 hours!
That’s also why my wife encouraged me to resign. I had less time for her, too. I also couldn’t pursue any passions that I had since all the time I was left to was the weekends (which I usually spend unwinding from the stress I felt during weekdays).
The ultimate disadvantage combination of a full-time job is less time for other things and lesser income. Of course, you can actually get a raise from a promotion. But who knows when that will be?
Again, this may depend on your work experience and whether or not you had any other experience before that you can compare. But these four are the primary drivers for more people who decide to make the switch to freelancing.
The Shift to Freelancing
When you’re a freelancer, you’re more of a self-employed business rather than an employee. You’re not particularly bound to a single client only. In terms of work, you can diversify and do whatever you deem profitable.
Before I resigned, I was already doing a bit of freelancing work. I was still a virtual assistant then doing basic admin and writing tasks for different clients. My hourly rate was low but it was already big compared to local standards.
Further reading: Becoming a virtual assistant is a good way to start your freelance career. Take it from me — it’s certainly possible to become a virtual assistant even without experience. Check out the article to learn more.
That was why I wasn’t afraid of pay cuts due to absences (I always asked permission when I needed to take the day off). Regularization came in a bit late so I didn’t have any of the paid leaves.
But a day’s worth of salary can easily be covered by my freelance work in one to two hours. This gap is one of the things that gave me the confidence to resign and start freelancing full-time.
What You Might Like About Freelancing
I might be a bit of bias here. But whenever I think about freelancing, most of what I see are benefits and rarely disadvantages. So pardon me if I seem to lean more on freelancing. I personally prefer it a thousand times over to full-time employment.
With that, here are some benefits of freelancing:
- Full control of the time
- No need to commute
- High earning potential
When you’re a freelancer, you don’t have to report to your office at a specific time and log out after eight hours. More or less, you’ve got total control of your time and how you want to spend it.
But it doesn’t mean though that you can simply ignore deadlines. Although I can spend my time in any way I want to, I still have to do the work and make sure to submit the deliverables before the deadline.
The difference is, I can choose the time (and place) I want to work. This leads to the second reason why I like freelancing — I don’t need to waste my time traveling.
When I had to travel to the office, I had to wake up at six in the morning. I hated waking up too early in the morning and then wasting the next few hours on travel. As a freelancer, I don’t have to do any of those things.
Perhaps, the most important of all is the high earning potential…
I don’t want to boast, but I can tell you that the difference was way too much! As a freelancer, what you earn is only limited to what you can do and the rate that you set for your services.
All in all, you will have more time, more money, and more freedom as a freelancer.
What You Might Not Like About Freelancing
On the other hand, it’s all about rainbows and butterflies. There are a few rough edges in freelancing that you need to deal with. These difficulties and challenges may not be that big out of the box.
But if you ignore them, you will end up in a worse state than when you were working as a full-time employee.
With that, here’s what you might not like about freelancing:
- Client acquisition
- Irregular income
- Loneliness and isolation
- Needs more self-discipline
Like I always say, freelancing is a business…
It’s different from employment. The employee mindset doesn’t have to think about gaining new clients. But in the case of freelancing, you must always think about finding leads consistently.
The same with any other business, you make money from your customers, which are the clients. Without a client, cash will stop flowing. Unfortunately, gaining clients is easier said than done.
You need to learn marketing and copywriting. You got to hone your research skills to find out more about your prospects. In addition to your main services as a freelancer, you got to learn these additional skills.
If you don’t have regular clients, then you will have irregular income. This is where the feast-and-famine cycle enters the scene. Without a client, you don’t get paid.
Not having any cash flow will make you depressed…
If you’re not living with anybody right now (or you don’t have your own family yet), it’s easy to get lonely and feel isolated. As a freelancer, you might end up feeling a lot of negative emotions.
That’s why you will need more self-discipline than ever. Even if you got more control over your time, you need to use it wisely.
I don’t mean to scare you. But this is the reality of freelancing if you don’t practice self-discipline.
What to do if you want to shift from full-time employment to freelancing?
You need to think outside the box if you want to quit your job and become a freelancer. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not that easy either. You need to prepare yourself.
That’s right. If you want to start freelancing, start while you’re working as a full-time employee. Either you start finding out who your target clients are or you start developing a skill you can use to help your clients.
Then, you got to start finding clients and start working on projects. Doing so will allow you to develop the self-discipline needed to become a successful freelancer. You will learn how to use your time even better.
When you’re confident enough in your freelance skills and you feel that your full-time job is only weighing you down, that’s the time you need to resign and focus on your freelance business.
If you have a husband or a wife, better talk to them first about your decision. This will be a team effort. I can’t tell you the times my wife had to encourage me to continue and do what I needed to do.
On the other hand, if you’re single, still living with your parents, and can afford to not have any work for a few days, then you can simply resign any time you want to. But I still recommend you to practice the freelance lifestyle while still working full-time.
Further reading: A while back, I created a very long guide on how to start freelancing. If you’re set on switching to a full-time freelance role, better check that guide I wrote. I’m certain you will be able to learn a lot of things from it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Freelancing vs Full-Time Job
As much as I want to explain everything, I know for a fact that I will not be able to address every question and concern that you may have. It’s my hope that my answers below will be able to help you in your transition.
If you have some more questions, feel free to leave a comment. Depending on the question, I might have to add it here so others may be able to learn from it as well.
Is freelancing a good career?
Yes! Quitting my full-time job to focus on my freelance business was one of the best decisions I made in my life. I will never be where I am today if I had stayed in the bank.
Furthermore, freelancing gave me the freedom I wanted. Now, I can freely spend my time on the things that I like doing (even ones that don’t bring any value like watching movies and playing video games).
Since I’m always home, I can spend more time with my family. All these benefits convince me that freelancing is indeed a good career.
Is it better to be a freelancer than to be an employee?
Well, it depends. If you like more freedom, more money, and more time, then becoming a freelancer is definitely better than being an employee.
On the other hand, if you lack the self-discipline needed to run a successful freelance business, I don’t recommend that you focus on freelancing. There are some people who can work better when managed.
If you’re one of those people, freelancing will do more harm to you than good. Becoming a good employee will still give you various benefits so it’s not really that bad.
Do freelancers get paid more?
As far as I know, yes, freelancers get paid more. One of the reasons why is that freelancers can work with more than one company. You’re not bound to a single client only.
In addition, you can negotiate your rate and turn it in your favor. There’s also nothing that’s stopping you from incrementing your rate every time you get a new client. This is actually how I do things.
To give you an idea, while I was still working full-time, my freelance work was able to cover my daily salary from the bank in one to two hours of work only. Immediately after I resigned, my monthly salary increased by 400%.
After two years, that percentage has increased exponentially, especially after I decided to focus on providing content services to my clients.
Can you make a living freelancing?
Absolutely! If you need proof, just look at me and my family. A few months after I started freelancing full-time, I asked my wife to resign and focus on homemaking.
So far? Everything’s going smoothly even now that our firstborn son is already here with us. All expenses are shouldered by the earnings I get from freelancing. So yes, you can make a living freelancing.
On the other hand, this may be totally unrelated to the discussion here, but you must definitely find a way to invest your earnings from freelancing. You can start another online business like blogging or ecommerce or invest in a physical business.
Do freelancers get paid holiday?
Unfortunately, no. As a freelancer, you’re only a contractual worker and aren’t subject to the normal perks, bonuses, and benefits that full-time employees enjoy.
However, there certainly are freelance clients who treat their freelancers like their very own employees. I certainly experience receiving bonuses from clients even if giving bonuses wasn’t part of the deal.
There may be some clients who will give bonuses out of kindness. But make no mistake — you can’t demand any bonuses or paid holidays from your clients.
Should you make the switch?
The choice is entirely up to you.
But personally, I saw more advantages in switching to freelancing. I got more time for anything else, more money to spend, and more freedom to do what I wanted to do.
However, I admit that this isn’t for everybody. The discipline you need to exert to become a successful freelancer is immense. You can’t treat it like employment and be managed. If you do, your freelance business will die.
That’s why I always advise people to practice freelancing before quitting. If you can divide your time between your full-time work and freelance work, then you might make it as a freelancer.
Now it’s your turn…
- Are you considering becoming a freelancer? What has motivated you to do so?
- Are there any challenges you’re facing right now that could stop you from becoming a freelancer?
Share your thoughts down below and let’s discuss!