Freelancing has become increasingly popular, with 39% of the U.S. workforce pursuing it in the past year. Rather than being a fallback option, many professionals are consciously choosing the freelance lifestyle. This preference stems from the enticing benefits and ability to be their own boss.
If you’re wondering what makes freelancing as a career path so attractive—whether as a side hustle, a part- or full-time job, or even starting a freelance business—you’ve come to the right place. While it can take time and hard work, being a successful freelancer has many perks.
Curious? Read on to discover many of the advantages of being a freelancer.
Top freelancing benefits:
- More freedom
- Flexible hours
- Location flexibility
- Compensation and earnings control
- Increased skills
- Ability to test a startup or small business concept
- No office politics
- Opportunity to specialize
- Job security
1. More freedom
One of the advantages of being a freelancer is that you have much more freedom compared to traditional employment. You’re essentially running your own business.
You have the autonomy to decide which new clients to work with. And if a prospective client presents a project that doesn’t align with your expertise or doesn’t offer the right compensation, you can choose to decline.
And, as a self-employed professional, you can set your own rates. These can be on a per-project basis, an hourly rate, or even a retainer fee for long-term projects. Your income potential is typically more flexible than a set salary.
But while these are definite advantages, this freedom comes with responsibility. As a freelancer, you’ll be responsible for managing all aspects of your business, from marketing and getting clients to managing projects and ensuring timely delivery. You’ll also need to take care of financial aspects such as invoicing, taxes, and retirement savings, which an employer would typically handle in a traditional job.
2. Flexible hours
The freelancer’s ability to set their own hours can be particularly attractive. If you have kids, you might choose to do your work while they’re in school or after they’ve gone to bed. If you want to take off Wednesday because the weather is nice and work on a Saturday instead, it’s entirely up to you.
For many freelancers, as long as their work for their clients is completed by the agreed-on deadlines, they have complete control over when and how they do it. That means a night owl and an early bird can both select the schedule that fits them best.
While this flexibility is a significant advantage, it also requires a high degree of self-discipline and time management skills. You’ll still need to meet deadlines and produce high-quality work.
As a freelancer, you’re your own boss. You choose the number of projects to pick up, your schedule, your professional attire, and every other aspect of how you run things.
That said, freelancing isn’t a vacation. It’s up to you to make sure you keep your clients happy, keep track of business expenses, seek new clients, and negotiate rates.
Furthermore, the workload in freelancing can often be uneven. Some weeks might require a substantial amount of work—possibly even more than a typical full-time job—while other weeks might be relatively light. However, it’s all under your authority.
4. Location flexibility
For many freelancers, since they aren’t beholden to a single company or boss, they can choose to live anywhere and even travel while working. While some freelance jobs may require you to be near your clients, it’s often possible to find clients wherever you go.
Since a lot of freelance work is done digitally, many freelancers are fully remote. The freelancer lives as a digital nomad, working virtually and traveling. Some professionals use their virtual workplace to take frequent vacations, while others live perpetually on the road, traveling from place to place. For many freelancers, the only requirement for their workday is an internet connection.
While this lifestyle has significant advantages, also consider potential challenges. These could include managing different time zones when dealing with international clients, ensuring a reliable internet connection while on the move, and maintaining a work-life balance amid travel.
5. Compensation and earnings control
As a freelancer, the reins of financial independence are in your hands. There’s no need to navigate tricky conversations with a supervisor to get a raise. Instead, you set your own rates and determine your workload.
Of course, these decisions aren’t entirely without constraints—they’re influenced by market dynamics. For example, charging exorbitant rates might shrink your potential client pool, as many might find your services out of their budget.
Nevertheless, as you build your portfolio, improve your skills, and garner a solid reputation, you likely can increase your rates over time. This reflects the value you bring to clients through an enhanced experience and proven track record. In fact, seasoned freelancers can earn more than they might in traditional employment within their industry.
However, strike a balance between the rates you command and the number of clients you aim to maintain. Charging top-tier rates may mean working with fewer, higher-paying clients.
On the other hand, more moderate rates might allow for a larger, more diverse client base, but could also mean a heavier workload. This balance is a unique equation for each freelancer—dependent on their career goals, lifestyle choices, and financial needs. The key is to continuously evaluate and adjust your pricing strategy in line with your professional growth and market trends.
6. Increased skills
Freelancing means you take on various projects from multiple clients. Each project brings something new to the table and provides an opportunity to expand your skill set. You’ll likely find yourself learning new things as you go.
You may feel more stagnant in a traditional full-time job that may not always involve continual learning and development. Freelancing can provide more opportunities for growth as you tackle a wider variety of project types.
You may also want to enhance your skill set on your own. As a freelancer, you can choose how and when you do this instead of waiting for annual corporate training. Many online courses and opportunities are out there, and you have the freedom to make time for these as you see fit.
7. Ability to test a startup or small business concept
Freelancing allows workers to build their client base and successfully grow their own businesses. As a freelancer, you can experiment and try different services and offerings to see which ones make you more money and bring in more clients than others.
As you progress in your freelancing journey, you’ll get valuable insights about market trends, client expectations, and effective business strategies. This experience can be instrumental if you decide to scale your freelance work into a more structured business, like an agency to expand your client base further.
However, while freelancing can provide a platform for testing a business concept, growing it into a successful business involves additional considerations, such as operational management, financial planning, and potentially managing a team. So, be prepared to handle these challenges as you transition from freelancing to running a full-fledged business.
8. No office politics
One significant advantage of freelancing is the ability to sidestep the often draining and counterproductive realm of office politics. In a traditional office environment, navigating intricate power dynamics, interpersonal conflicts, and competition for promotions or recognition can be a significant source of stress. These elements can often detract from the primary focus of work, stifle creativity, and hamper productivity.
As a freelancer, you primarily interact with your clients or project managers on a professional, project-based level, and you’re typically spared the complex webs of office politics. Your focus can remain on delivering quality work and building your professional reputation—rather than expending energy on managing political landscapes within an organization.
9. Opportunity to specialize
One of the enticing advantages of freelancing is the ability to hone and leverage niche skills or industry knowledge, positioning yourself as an expert in your chosen field. This specialization is a powerful tool for creating a unique, in-demand brand for your freelance business.
In a traditional employment setting, your role and tasks might be dictated by your job description or organizational needs, which could limit your ability to specialize. However, as a freelancer, you have the freedom to focus on areas that genuinely interest you and where you can provide significant value based on your specialized expertise.
Specializing in a niche skill or industry allows you to target specific clients who are seeking that particular expertise. It also often allows you to charge higher rates because you provide specialized knowledge and skills that may not be readily available. Over time, this expertise positions you as a go-to resource in your field, providing a competitive edge and paving the way for increased recognition and profitability.
10. Job security
An often overlooked advantage of freelancing is the job security it can offer through income diversification. Unlike traditional employment, where you rely on a single employer for your income, freelancing allows you to work with multiple clients simultaneously, spreading your sources of income.
In traditional employment, losing your job means losing your sole income source, which can result in significant financial stress. However, as a freelancer, if a contract ends or a client relationship dissolves, you still have other clients to sustain your income. This reduces your financial risk and can provide more stability than relying on a single employer.
Working with clients in different industries can also protect you from downturns in any single industry. If one of your client’s industries is facing a slump, you still have other clients in different sectors to maintain your income flow.
Freelancing benefits FAQ
Now, let’s explore some of the most common questions about the benefits that come with having a freelancing career.
What are the disadvantages of working as a freelancer?
Being a freelancer can have its downsides, although many who find success do so because the benefits outweigh these drawbacks.
As a freelancer, you’re considered to be self-employed and are responsible for paying self-employment taxes. This includes the employer portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which would typically be covered by an employer in a traditional job setting.
You also won’t receive the typical employee benefits that a full-time job provides, such as health insurance, paid leave, retirement contributions, or other perks. You’ll need to independently get health insurance and plan for retirement savings, which can be a significant added expense.
Other potential downsides to freelancing can include the need for constant self-promotion to find clients and the potential for isolation when working independently.
How do I start freelancing?
There are many approaches to starting freelancing. Some people choose to do it on the side first while still working a full-time job, and then they slowly transition to full-time freelancing and leave their traditional job as they gain clients.
Getting started and established generally requires creating a website where you describe your services and skills and setting up social media accounts on sites like LinkedIn to connect with businesses and clients. Setting up an account on Upwork is also an excellent way to attract clients.
What kind of freelance work can I do?
The answer to this question depends on your background. Start by listing your skills and the types of work you’ve done.
Consider which items on the list you find most fulfilling and which ones are the most in demand. At first, you might try looking for freelance work across the full spectrum of your skills and, over time, narrow your focus as you see which skills demand better pay and attract more clients.
Common freelance work includes:
- Software development
- Design and creative
- Marketing and sales
- Administrative support
- Customer service
- Data science
- Engineering design
- And more
What is the average salary for freelancers?
Your salary can vary depending on the specific field and your experience. We offer a few average hourly rates to consider.
- Freelance transcriptionist. $12 to $22 per hour
- Freelance business analyst. $25 to $60 per hour
- Freelance legal researcher. $23 to $60 per hour
- Freelance app designer. $20 to $40 per hour
- Freelance copy editor. $20 to $40 per hour
Keep in mind that your rate may differ depending on factors such as your experience.
How do I find clients as a freelancer?
A dedicated work platform like Upwork is an excellent way to start. With Upwork, you can create a portfolio highlighting your skills and upload your resume to show your experience.
You can browse the Talent Marketplace™ for jobs related to your expertise. You can place bids, explaining to potential clients what makes you a good fit for the role and how much you’ll charge for the project. You can also create ready-made projects and post them to Project Catalog™.
The client then selects the proposal they like best. As you work on Upwork, you can collect reviews, making your profile appear even more appealing to others and helping you establish yourself in the industry.
Let Upwork help you find freelance work today
If you’re ready to try freelancing—whether full or part time—Upwork can help. We connect businesses with the independent professionals they need. Whether you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer, software developer, or consultant, over 5 million businesses trust Upwork.
By creating a profile on our platform, you can immediately connect with prospective clients. Set up an account and get started today.
Prices and fees are current at the time of writing and may change over time based on each service’s offerings.
Get This Article as a PDF
For easy printing, reading, and sharing.