Stability Or Freedom? The Freelancer V.S. Staff Employee Conundrum
Ah, it’s the million dollar question that isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
One of the perks of living in a modern world is the ever-changing technology that makes things like telecommuting a reality. Because of this, the traditional 9-5 gig has received a much needed revamp that helps make things more flexible. With so many opportunities now at our fingertips, you have to wonder if it’s even worth it to work for just one company.
Many choose to indulge in the world of freelancing, and for good reason. For starters, it helps pad your wallet. In certain cases, you might earn more as a contractor or freelancer because you technically aren’t an employee of the company. Freelancing jobs are also on the rise, with an estimated 1 in 3 Americans calling it their full-time gig.
Unlike a traditional job, you have certain perks or freedoms with freelancing. Sure you need to check in with an employee or boss of the company that’s in contract with you, but you don’t have to worry about things like taking time off as much as someone on regular payroll. The hours that you work can also be more flexible as you can burn the midnight oil or get a few things done over the weekend should you want to take a day to yourself during regular business hours.
As you can see, there are tons of benefits with non-traditional work, but that doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone.
Many professionals work as staff employees for stability and company benefits — like medical insurance and a 401K. You have access to paid time off that removes the need to work like a dog so you can earn coins while away. There’s also no need to try and keep up with so many gigs in order to create the income you want. And let’s not forget that pesky self-employment tax no one ever wants to pay.
What about company layoffs you ask? Yes you can get laid off, anyone can, but at least as a regular employee you can potentially collect unemployment benefits — something that’s not afforded to a freelancer.
I’ve been freelancing steadily for a few years now and use the money I earn to help fund my own endeavors. It also happens to be a pleasant outlet to express myself on different platforms which I otherwise would not be able to do working for one company. But no matter how much I enjoy freelancing, there’s always that little voice in my head that makes me question whether or not I should take a staff position. My answer in the past has always been no out of fear I would be the last one in and first one out the door should a company need to downsize. Then I remind myself of all the folks I know — including myself when I first started — that hopped between gigs to make ends meet. There’s no guarantee you’ll have work or stay employed as a freelancer. As with any job, it’s a risk you have to take.
Now that I have kids (two children under two), I’ve been thinking more about my end game. Sure freelancing is great now, but will it be lucrative in say five years, or a decade? Will I still enjoy the same fruits of my labor down the road, or will I need to start over? There are some professionals I know who’ve seen decades of success in a freelancing capacity, while others use it as a stepping stone to land a nice position at a company that would’ve taken more time to obtain if they didn’t have working experience.
I guess the choice is up to you.
Are you for freelancing or being a staff employee?