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Full-time Job vs. Freelancing which is better

Full-time Job vs. Freelancing. Which One is Better in the Long Run?

Moving from a full-time job to freelancing on platforms like UpWork or Fiverr? Read this before you take the plunge.

A couple of years back, I received a phone call from one of my ex-employees. During the conversation, he told me that he had been doing freelancing on and off for some time and now was considering doing it full time, quitting his existing full-time job.

He asked me what I thought of it and whether he should go ahead with this decision. Before I gave my 2 cents, I asked him the reason for this move. The following were his reasons for thinking about this:

Personal issues

The young man was having to deal with some personal health issues (in the family), thereby being distracted and not being able to focus completely on the job. He temporarily quit a job, freelanced a bit (got the taste of it), and then picked up another full-time job. He had to spend time between his hometown and his workplace (not all companies are liberal with their work-from-home policy like Airbnb and Twitter).

Freedom

During his brief gig, he understood that he could work independently and was paid by the hour, at a billing price he demanded (or I should say, could “command”).

Work on stuff you like

This guy being very choosy regarding the work he did, freelancing looked like a great opportunity to work on things you like.

Transparent dealing

The majority of the freelance platforms are very transparent and help you get paid and resolve disputes.

You can be paid well

You land the right gig, and you make good money (while it lasts).

 

These reasons sounded compelling and for some time even I felt that he was going in the right direction, but I think I had more than enough to counter (for myself and for him).

Gig worker

There is a reason why you are called a gig worker. Most freelancing jobs are short-term tasks, not long-term commitments. You cannot plan your life based on these short-term gigs. They can help you get by in rough times or give you some extra money, but thinking of pursuing this full-time is going to be extremely challenging.

You are not guaranteed a gig

You must fight for gigs and competition can be tough. With online learning, there are many people joining this economy. With a full-time job, you have a salary that you will get at the end of the month.

Bidding is tough and challenging

You are competing against talent from the rest of the world. You cannot command premium pricing forever. There will always be someone to outbid you via better terms and pricing.

You do not have a manager

We usually underestimate the impact of a good manager (and a bad one as well), in our career. There are times when your manager helps you cross certain obstacles and guides you in the right direction, motivates you, and helps to bring the best out of you. Here you are alone, where every contract is a client you have to directly deal with. You will not be able to cut any slack and some clients can be extremely challenging to deal with. Here you need a certain maturity which I do not expect to come that easily.

Ratings are extremely important

You cannot goof up. Your night gig to the time you get paid is all dependent on your rating. Your career is now equivalent to your rating. This can be extremely stressful and can cause a lot of pain if you get things wrong.

How to move up the ladder

There is a natural career progression where you grow professionally and personally, you completely miss that and kiss your career goodbye.

Lack of Benefits

Most full-time jobs have benefits like paid time off, health insurance, retirement accounts, life insurance, and more. As a freelancer, one has to pay for these things from their gig income.

 

Verdict

Short job gaps, a new skill you want to experiment with, or making some extra money during the weekend fits the good use cases for freelancing. Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros in the long term, in my opinion.

Outcome

He joined the next job he got and has been with it since the past 2 years and is progressing to become a Technical Architect.