Freedom. That’s the top reason freelancers say they left their 9-to-5 and the key benefit they enjoy today. But why else should we all incorporate and set up shop as individuals? 30% of workers in the US and across Europe are already freelancing today. We’re supposed to outnumber traditional workers in less than a ten years. Here are the top four reasons you’ll likely start freelancing in the coming years.
About a third of all freelancers have taken an online class within the last week. That’s three times the number of traditional workers who have done the same. And within the last six months, it’s 60% of freelancers! The world and technology we all work with is changing rapidly. We all know we need to stay ahead of the evolving knowledge and tools of our trades. It can be daunting, but when you’re a freelancer you pursue this, because you know staying up-to-speed is critical.
Not only does all this learning provide for a healthier income, but there is such a strong connection across freelancers teaching each other how to be better and manage their businesses as well. This benefit will only get magnified as more people become freelancers. Those who know unique skills will be able to share their insights about the industry. Those who understand how to market will be able to teach others about how to bring on more clients and income. And finally, those freelancers who know how to manage their finances, when to buy supplies, and how to supplement their incomes across freelance types (i.e., a photographer can also market online website templates via their blog and might drive for Lyft occasionally) will be able to coach their peers in money management.
Let’s face it. Medical insurance premiums are getting more expensive for both employers and employees. You can now buy them directly – and write off a majority of them in your tax deductions. So, why be tied to what your employer deems beneficial? Retirement and 401(k) programs are also largely going unmatched these days. And with programs from Vanguard, Betterment, Wealthfront and Ellevest, we all have more control over our saving for and tracking the benefits of our own investing.
The benefits aren’t getting any better in full-time gigs, and they’ll start to get worse over the next few decades. Why? As more of us become freelancers, companies and governments will increasingly hire distributed workforces (and learn along the way the benefits of releasing their HR operations onto individuals). We’ll have to wear more hats individually but have more flexibility in platforms competing for our sign-ups and usage.
Ever gotten frustrated with work politics? Or struggled with a beyond challenging client for the good of a company’s balance sheet? Those clients and colleagues are not only a drag, but we know they’re also typically more work than they’re worth – costing extra hours and sometime even team members.
As an individual freelancer, you get to decide who you want to work with amongst clients and peers. There have been several instances over the years where I’ve decided not to work with someone because they didn’t seem like they were ready for a marketing consultant. I’ve also gotten to bring friends who are designers and branding specialists along to collaborate on projects. Creating these networks of referring clients and peers has been so rewarding for my business, and a fun way to stay connected personally as well!
Work better at 10pm than 10am? Or are you most productive when you’re on a 6-week project than a 6-month campaign? That’s no problem when you’re freelancing. And it’s also why we’re seeing a wealth of books and courses coming out, like Gretchen Rubin’s “The Four Tendencies” and Charles Duhigg’s “Smarter Faster Better“. We’re all working to understand how to manage ourselves better, because part of marketing yourself is sharing how you’ll work best together with your clients. And there are endless clients and all sorts of needs you can solve for across industries. You can work on a marketing campaign early in the morning or drive for Lyft midnight. You can do your photography over the weekends and run errands and your blog during the week. As a freelancer, you get to determine your on and off hours. Of course, you have to account for when your clients might need you. But there is so much more flexibility when you can work from home or a space you determine.
Financial stability is definitely a fear that keeps a lot of people from freelancing. But here’s the big secret: there is so much you get to write-off when you’re working for yourself. You get to write-off your workplace (which can be a part of your home and utilities), part of your health insurance, your supplies, your marketing costs (in the form of meals and client gifts), driving costs, and more. Everyone underestimates the impact of these deductions until they get to see them in action. If you’re worried about this, go to an accountant or bookkeeper to walk you through your possible deductions. If you don’t have one handy, I’m happy to connect you. In the meantime, if you’re considering the switch or are already freelancing and worried you’re not getting the most out of your deductions, download the Lance app to start tracking your business expenses.
Have I convinced you yet? Next week, I’ll write about how to incorporate yourself for the maximum benefits as you explore freelancing – or if you’ve been at it for a bit and need to button things up!
Oona from Lance