Freelance Vs Employed

Recently I have been meeting with and teaching new developers and designers. And I find myself being asked the same question over and over again. “should I work for a company OR work for myself”. Since I have worked freelance and for a marketing company, I can say I have worked on both sides of the fence, and I hope this blog can help clear up some questions that some new developers might have if they are wondering about the other side.

Employment

You might not believe me when I tell you but there are some major perks to not being your own boss. I know hard to believe but yes there are some major perks to it all so lets break it down.

+There is food in the fridge

Yes having a steady job with a company means there is a constant stream of cash flowing in. You don’t need to worry about whether or not there is food and not watching your bank account constantly is definitely a plus. You don’t have to worry about chasing down checks from clients, or if your bases are covered with taxes, all that is usually almost covered by a company. Not to mention most companies have their own health insurance plan so thats a plus…unless the health insurance plans really really sucks…

+There are people

This might seem like a odd thing to say but there are people to talk to. However, working freelance and being stuck at home all day or in a coffee shop can get pretty lonely. You can actually develop friendships with your co workers. You are isolated and your only shred of human interaction is email or slack. It can quickly make you go crazy. Also some companies throw parties, have social events, lunch outs, and general social gatherings that can be fun and exciting. Also I never realized how without the social aspect of people that I would lose track of time, like I didn’t leave my house for a week because I didn’t need groceries till I needed them. Trust me, it can mess with your internal clock if you stay inside without contact.

+You Focus On Your Tasks

Being a freelancer, you are an all in one—you might be good at some things but you might not excel at anything. Thats where a company has people who are great at their skills and excel in their one area. Such as if you are a web developer, you build build and build, or the designer designs and the copywriter writes the copy. So the designer designs the website, the copywriter writes the copy that will go on it, and the developer builds it all together. You don’t need to worry about the wordage, or the colors. Your task is right in front of you.

-The Client Might Be The Client From Hell

Now being with a company means you don’t get to pick the clients, you are given the projects and told to do this. Now this might seem good…until you discover the client is equal to Satan. Hits you up on the weekends, blowing you up asking why something isn’t done, telling other people on the project one thing, while jumping from idea to idea to idea over and over again because they saw something and wants to reshape constantly and nags and rags on you for not being able to read their mind. Now if you are a freelancer you can simply say “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya.” and essentially fire them…if you work for a company that is very hard to do because…you don’t get a say in the matter.

-You Can Get Burned Out

With working for a company, I have heard from many people time and time again, that there is a breaking point, it can be a year, it can be four years. But eventually you will reach something called the “burn out”. What the burn out is, is basically a point where you are wondering why you are doing this. You aren’t enjoying your job, and you don’t take pride in what you do. Or maybe it just seems to all be falling apart. Especially when the constant stream of work is the same thing, maybe you are always writing copy for the same kind of brands, always designing the same type of websites, or it just starts to feel like all the same and you aren’t making a difference anymore. That happens and we all eventually get there sooner or later. Some companies have been working around this by shifting people around different departments, I hear from my fellow friends that the tech companies they work for shift them around or they move from marketing to inner development and then back to marketing and outreach to help stave off the burn out and turn over.

-You Can Get Fired

Now this has happened to a few people I know, hasn’t happened to me yet…well…sort of. You are pulled into the office, you sit down into a seat and without notice, you are told. “we have to let you go cause the budget isn’t there anymore”. Or you are forceable removed without notice which has and can happen. Your Employment is in other peoples hands. Companies are allowed to do this, especially when they need to cut costs. This means you can go at any moment.

Self Employed

Being self employed is definitely a drastic undertaking because you are essentially your own company. You pitch, build, design, meet, reach out, calculate, and do everything yourself. Ever use quickbooks? Ever filed your own taxes?

-You Don’t Get The Whole Pie

Taxes are not fun at all. It is definitely not a fun thing, whatever I make I cut a certain percentage out and don’t touch that cause that goes to the taxes. People think “oh I just scored a 10 grand client”. Ok…are you gonna declare that…and if they pay you in smaller amounts do you know how to add that into quickbooks? Do you file as a LLC? Or sole owner? Or should you get a tax lawyer? What if they charge too much? How do you know they are charging to much? These are the things that people won’t tell you, but you will become well versed in taxes. Which means not having a letter come from the IRS saying “hey you made 100 grand last year…wheres our slice of the pie?”

+You Make Your Own Hours

Believe it or not…sometimes people work better from 10 – 6. Thats one of the perks that freelancers can enjoy, you make your own hours, but with it comes a great responsibility cause if you decide to sleep all day or literally do nothing, then you don’t get paid. Focusing is probably the biggest factor when you decide on making your own hours, losing distractions and everything else and just focusing on what is in front of you and not around you.

+Turning Down Projects

Now you might be thinking “but why would you do that if its money”. There have been a few times where I turn away projects because I am involved with other stuff and I don’t want it to pile on. Or the fact that the client might not have everything together for the project. Listening to your gut will sometimes save you mounds of headaches later on down the line. I try to avoid the clients that come off as kind of inconsiderate or rude. Sometimes passing up on a client can make way for a client that can help push your creativity further.

-Distraction Power

Here is something that I need to break to people, even if you work from home and have an “office” area people will try to find ways to distract you. Maybe your family or friends constantly call and say “hey I know your at home…” and you are not inclined to answer or help. Let me just say that first, if you are working on a massive project and someone asks you “hey can you help me for five minutes…” well that five minutes might turn into 5 hours and thats time and money you lose. I can’t stress this enough but you have to learn to basically say “no”. Let people know that even IF you work from home, you are still in your office focus. You are still working and your time is money.

+Contracted Between Companies

One of the most interesting things I have also been using lately is contracting companies that help send contracts my way. Now this has been a interesting experience because they are like headhunters for clients. I have interviewed and made friends with a few of these. Sometimes I will get a call from some of the reps, and we will discuss the contact. I can easily say yes or no. They aren’t trying to just toss something on me. They send me clients who they think will be a good fit. Because I have had placements set on me by other companies where its like “hey I found a client that needs a drupal website”. Uhhhh I don’t have drupal anyway in my resume. Now I do like these kind of contract based tech services that these companies do. It makes me kind of feel like a special agent. Having done these different types of contracts has diversified my portfolio. If you work for a single company, you can’t really do this. It can be seen as a conflict of interest. However, when you are not tied to one company, you can branch out. This will help build your name further.

In Closing

Freelance VS actually being employed with a company will all come down to how you are as a person. Everyone is different, and everyone changes over time. You might be a freelancer wanting to work for a company. Or vice versa. Everyone goes on their own path and I hope I cleared up some things for some people. This is a question I get all the time, and I tried my best to answer the questions I get over and over again from different people. If more questions or concerns happen, then I will raise them in another blog.

See you space cowboy…

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