Freelancing Part 1: How To Work Out If It's Right For You

Freelancing Part 1: How To Work Out If It’s Right For You

I have done my years of freelancing. After a long stint of more than 12 years, I am back to working for an organisation here in Auckland. Last year, I researched freelancing in the UK for an ad agency who wanted me (along with a designer) to create an infographic for a recruitment agency. Here are some of the statistics I gathered for the infographic. Although this data is applicable to the UK, these findings would be similar for all other western countries, where there is a huge upswing in the number of contract or freelance positions in all industries.

So how can you work out whether or not the lifestyle is for you? Read on to find out about my own experience and where the market is headed for freelancers.

Why People Freelance

According to eConsultancy, the reasons are as follows:

  • Being one’s own boss.
  • Better work-life balance.
  • Earning as much, if not more as a traditional job.
  • Ability to juggle family and career responsibilities.
  • Increased flexibility in terms of lifestyle, recreation and location.
  • Increased health and well-being.
  • Extra time gained back from commuting.
  • Less incidental spending (lattes, business lunches, petrol).


Freelancing is a Career Lifestyle Choice

Personally, I chose to freelance because it enabled me to move around a lot, travel and live in many cities. In this way, freelancing is great for the footloose and fancy-free young people who don’t yet have anything to tie them down.

The Attraction of Freelancing

Highly Qualified: Only 4% of freelancers have no formal qualifications in their chosen field.

Highly Paid: Freelancers earn on average £50,820 a year, almost double the average worker’s salary of £26,000. Their hourly or daily rate is generally double or triple that of a full time and permanent worker to make up for the lack of financial security and annual leave.

Greater lifestyle flexibility: Freelancing means that you can theoretically work anywhere! The moon, Antarctica and the top of Mt. Everest are all theoretically within your scope. So rather than work in an office, you could work in Annapurna – where there are most likely going to be better views.

This means that you can also have flexibility if you decide to relocate, start a family, do further study, take up a hobby or start up another business. Basically if you want to explore a work-life balance then freelancing is the best way to do this.

The Trade-offs of Freelancing

No holiday pay: 25% of freelance workers take no annual holiday at all. When on holidays, 45% of freelancers work during their break.

No financial stability: This goes hand in hand with freelancing. You need to either become great at managing your money and being frugal with spending, just in case you need it later on down the track. Alternately you could adapt by adopting a champagne and caviar lifestyle one month and a Weetbix and rice cracker lifestyle the next month.

No social banter: You may be the kind of person whom hates social chit-chat. Although even if you are a recluse and love your own company, a bit of social interaction and sustainable relationships is a healthy thing. It can get boring and disheartening to always be in your own company all the time.

State of the Nation

  • In January 2014, the number of self-employed people in the UK hit 4.36 million. This is an 18% increase since 2008. (Source)
  • Freelancers contribute £202bn to the British economy each year. (Source)
  • The no. of freelance jobs online increased by 46% in 2012. (Source)
  • Payment rates of freelancers have increased by 37%, year on year. (Source)
  • In 2012, 81% of UK workers wanted to escape the shackles of 9 – 5 culture. (Source)

Freelancing Part 1: How To Work Out If It's Right For You

How many new hires in the UK were freelance in 2013?

IT/Programming: 41%

Design/Multimedia: 24%

Writing/Translation: 18%

*However there is high demand for freelancers in all sectors.


Average Freelance Annual Salary by Sector

Banking – £70,000

Engineering – £64,000

IT – £63,000

PR/Marketing – £57,000

Design – £50,000

Retail – £35,000

This is only part of the picture.

 I hope that this has helped to guide you somewhat in your decision. In Part 2 of this article next week, we will be looking at some statistical home truths about freelancing. So stay tuned!




8 thoughts on “Freelancing Part 1: How To Work Out If It’s Right For You

  1. Very interesting. Several of my friends are freelancers, contract workers or consultants who went through a slow period the last few years in the U.S. Now they say that things are picking up. More jobs and more opportunities opening up.

    Great post!! I can’t wait for part 2!!!

    Very Best Regards,

    1. Thanks Eric, your comments are always so lovely. Well I think the world is changing and I hope that it means more opportunity for freelancing for lots of people. I forgot about Part 2, so I better get on it!! Been flat out at work. Take care, speak soon

    2. No worries Eric, I am glad you found these inspiring. On another topic, loosely related to this one, I started a brilliant course on Coursera, this one is about deep time and geological eras/aeons and things like this. It is also about the conditions needed for life on other planets, it’s absolutely fascinating, I recommend it. It’s self paced and free as well – which is always nice.

      1. OH YEAH!!!

        This is right up my alley; especially since I’m working on a series of articles about world creation for speculative writers and artists. Doing the research now so this comes at the right time. THANKS!!!

        There will be some interesting changes on my blog in the next month or so. I’ll keep you posted!!!

        Very Best Regards,

      2. I am really looking forward to the new revamp Eric..well done! 🙂 Let me know how you go with the course. I’ve done weeks one and two all last night I was so into it. I am up to week three microbes. It’s challenging some of the more detailed physics and chemistry jibber-jabber but I find it fascinating anyway. I hope you enjoy it too

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