Internet, Networking, & Security Web Development The Advantages of Being a Freelance Web Designer Should you become a freelancer? By Jennifer Kyrnin Freelance Contributor Jennifer Kyrnin is a professional web developer who assists others in learning web design, HTML, CSS, and XML. our editorial process LinkedIn Jennifer Kyrnin Updated February 11, 2020 Web Development Web Design CSS & HTML SQL Tweet Share Email If you decide to enter the web design industry, there will be lots of career decisions you will need to make. One of those is whether you want to work for someone, either in an agency setting or as an in-house resource, or if you would rather work for yourself. Oftentimes, this latter career path is known as "freelancing." This is the path that we have chosen for our career. Being a freelancer is great, there are lots of things we love about it, but we always recommend that anyone considering becoming a freelance web designer think about the facts of the job. Like with any position, there are good things and bad things. Make sure that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages before you jump in. Advantages to Being a Freelance Web Designer Work when you want to This is probably one of the most popular reasons for becoming a freelancer. If you're a night owl, working 9-5 can be challenging. As a freelancer, however, you can largely work whenever you feel like it. This is perfect for work-at-home-moms and dads who need to arrange their work around the schedule of a child. It also means that you can work for people in other time zones or work at home after you've returned from your day job. The thing to remember is that most companies still run their business between 9 and 5. If they hire you, they will want you to be available for calls or meetings during business hours. They aren't going to be sympathetic if you went to sleep at 7am after working all night if they need you to be in a design meeting at 9am. So yes, you do get to set your hours to a degree, but client needs must always be taken into account. Work from home or where ever you want Many freelancers work at home. In fact, we would venture to say that most freelance web professionals have a home office set up of some kind. It's also possible to work from a local coffee shop or the public library. In fact, anywhere you can get Internet access could become your office. If you do have to meet with someone face-to-face, you can meet them at their office or the local coffee shop if your house isn't professional enough. Be your own boss As a freelancer, you will most likely work in a company of one person, yourself. This means you won't have to worry about micromanagers or unreasonable expectations from your boss. In some ways, your clients are your boss, and they can be unreasonable and demanding, but that leads to the next advantage. Choose the projects you want to do Not just projects, but people and companies as well. If you have trouble working with someone or a company asks you to do something you feel is unethical, you don't have to take the job. Heck, you can refuse to do a job just because it seems boring if you want to. As a freelancer, you can take the work you want to take and pass up the stuff you do not want to work on. You do, however, have to remember that bills need to be paid, so sometimes you may still be forced to take on work that does not excite you all that much. Learn as you go, and learn what you want As a freelancer, you can continue to learn new things with ease. If you decide you want to get fluent in PHP, you don't have to get permission from a boss to put PHP scripts on the server or take a class. You can just do it. In fact, the best freelancers are learning all the time. No dress code If you want to wear your pajamas all day, no one will care. We never wear shoes and fancy dress means putting on a flannel shirt over my t-shirt. You should still have one or two business outfits for presentations and client meetings, but you won't need nearly as many as you would if you worked in an office. Work on a wide variety of projects, not just one site When we worked as corporate web designers, one of our biggest problems was getting bored with the site that we were tasked with working on. As a freelancer, you can work on new projects all the time and add lots of variety to your portfolio. You can incorporate your hobby into your work One way you can differentiate yourself as a web designer is to focus on a niche area. If that area also happens to be a hobby of yours, this gives you some extra credibility. It also will make the work that much more enjoyable for you. Write off your expenses As a freelancer, depending upon how you file your taxes, you can write off your expenses, like your computer, your office furniture, and any software you buy to do your job. Check with your tax specialist for specifics. Disadvantages of Being a Freelance Web Designer You may not always know where your next paycheck will come from Financial stability is not something most freelancers enjoy. You might make 3 times your rent one month and barely cover groceries the next. This is one reason we say that freelancers should build up an emergency fund. We don't recommend starting out as a full-time freelancer until you have a sufficient emergency fund and at least 3 clients. In other words, "don't quit your day job." You must be constantly looking for clients Even if you have 3 clients or more when you start out, they probably won't need you every month, and some will disappear as they get other needs or their site changes. As a freelancer, you should always be looking for new opportunities. This can be stressful, especially if you're shy or would rather just code. You have to be good at more than just Web Design Marketing, interpersonal relationships, communication, and bookkeeping are just some of the hats you'll have to wear. And while you don't have to be an expert at all of them, you need to be good enough that you keep the jobs coming in and the government from claiming your soul in unpaid taxes. No insurance In fact, there are none of the perks that you get from working at a corporation. Insurance, paid vacation days, sick days, office space, even free pens. None of it is included as a freelancer. Many freelancers we know have a working spouse who covers the insurance needs for their family. Believe us, this can be a huge and shocking expense. Insurance for self-employeed people is not cheap. Working alone can get very lonely You'll spend a lot of time on your own. If you're lucky enough to live with another freelancer, you can talk with them, but most freelancers can get a little stir-crazy because they're trapped in their house all day long every day. If you like to be around people, this could make the job unbearable. You have to be disciplined and self-motivated While you are your own boss, you have to remember that you are your own boss. If you decide not to work today or for the next month, no one is going to get after you. It's all up to you. If your office is in your home it can be very easy to end up working all the time Work-life balance is often hard for freelancers. You get an idea and sit down to flesh it out a little and the next thing you know it's 2 am and you've missed dinner again. One way to combat this is to set up formal hours for yourself to work. When you leave your computer or office, you are done working for the day. And, conversely, your friends might feel free to call and chat anytime, because they think you aren't working This is especially a problem for new freelancers. When you quit your day job, your friends who are still in the rat-race can't believe that you are actually working. They may call or ask you to babysit or otherwise take up your time when you should be working. You have to be firm with them and explain (several times if necessary) that you are working and you'll call them back when you're done for the day.