Freelance vs. Office. What Technical Writing Career to Choose

4 min read

The world is rushing to freelance. According to Statista, in the nearest 10 years, the number of freelancers in the US will increase from 57 to 90 million people. That is almost half of the general labor force of the United States. The number of freelancers in the EU increases of almost a quarter in just seven years.
Freelance is popular among technical writers, journalists, marketing specialists, illustrators, tutors, translators, and many others. More companies are open to using freelance labor and more young professionals see a freelance career as their future. But is the freelance as good as it seems?

Freelance requires more skills than an office job, strict self-discipline, and a high activity level to provide yourself with clients. In this article are mentioned 6 points that help to decide if the freelance suits you or it is better to stay employed.

So, what do office workers expect from freelance?

Expectation 1. Join freelance to have more free time
Truth. Freelancers are free to schedule themselves, so it helps to keep work and life balance. You can schedule vacations, days off any time, plus freelancers do not waste time in commuting.
Bitter truth. The ability to choose working hours gives the false feeling of free time. Flexible schedule requires more self-discipline than an office job in two directions:
a) Start working. Be honest with yourself about being motivated enough to become your own boss. Also, if you have a family, there is a point to convince them that sometimes you are “at work” even if you are at home.
b) Stop working. Everyone needs some rest. Rest is an investment in your productivity. Freelancers can not leave work at the office, and it is even harder to quit the thoughts about the job. So, you must learn how to turn the work off and clean out your thoughts.

Expectation 2. Join freelance for higher payment
Truth. Freelancer’s hourly rate is higher in a compartment with office workers.
Bitter truth. Freelancers are paid more than the office staff for the same amount of hours; the downside is the lack of constant work and an unpredictable income because of that. Freelancers have the hassle of paying for equipment and applications. All the repairs and other costly activities are only your expenses. So, before diving into freelance consider that self-employed staff has no paid time off work, no job security and has to cover all the expenses.

Expectation 3. Join freelance for becoming your own boss.
Truth. Freelancers have no outer control, no office hierarchy, and can reject a client they do not want to handle.
Bitter truth. The client stays as a boss. Freelancers deal with several projects at the same time, so you will have to manage a number of bosses instead of one. Yes, working on your own means that there is no one to check if you are working well, but you are still the only one who is responsible for the result and the income.

Expectation 4. Join freelance for work and travel at the same time.
Truth. Freelancers are not fastened to a certain area and can work from any point in the world.
Bitter truth. The free working schedule does not mean vocations. The bottom line here is money, so freelancer’s income also depends on the number of working hours. On one hand, you should work more to provide the traveling. On the other hand, If you are working 8–10 hours per day you have no time to see a lot in a foreign country. So, it is about finding a balance between job and free time.

Expectation 5. Join freelance for the ability to choose the project yourself.
Truth. Freelancers can choose exciting challenges and turn unattractive projects down.
Bitter truth. Young freelancers may face the necessity to cope with uninteresting projects to cover living expenses. Also, there is a part of work that has to be done despite you like it or not. It is promoting yourself, client support, legal issues, billing. Plus additional education for keeping your skills up to date.

Expectation 6. Join freelance for escaping the office environment.
Truth. Freelancers are free from toxic atmosphere and colleagues, commuting, office policy, hierarchy, and dress code.
Bitter truth. Working on your own also means lack of communication, lack of feeling yourself part of a team. The office helps you concentrate better and switch all the thoughts about the job off after quitting the workplace.

Instead of conclusion

Freedom or stability, self-discipline or guidance, self-sufficiency or teamwork. The final choice between freelance and office is up to you. Weighing it out and decide what feels right for you.

See also - How to become a technical writer

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