American freelancers contributed approximately $1.35 trillion in annual earnings to the US economy; an increase of $50 billion compared to 2021.
But how many of those work full-time, and how many only freelance as a side hustle?
In this article, we will take a look at the pros and cons of freelancing full-time vs part-time, providing valuable insights for those contemplating these career paths. By examining various factors, such as financial stability, work-life balance, career growth, and personal fulfillment, we aim to equip aspiring freelancers with the information they need to make an informed choice.
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Advantages & Disadvantages of Freelancing Full-Time
Full-time freelancers are individuals who freelance as their primary or only source of income. They generally work upwards of 40 hours a week; around the same amount of time as a traditional employee. Many people choose full-time freelancing due to its flexibility and uncapped income potential.
Some of the advantages of being a full-time freelancer include:
Increased Earning Potential: As a full-time freelancer, you have the opportunity to set your own prices and dedicate more time and energy to your clients’ work, allowing you to take on a higher volume of projects and potentially increase your income.
Flexibility & Autonomy: One of the biggest advantages of freelancing full-time is the freedom to set your own schedule and work on projects that align with your interests and skills while balancing personal commitments, such as family responsibilities.
Professional Growth & Skills Development: Freelancing full-time provides an environment for continuous learning and skills development. As you take on diverse projects and collaborate with different clients, you have the opportunity to expand your expertise, refine your abilities, and broaden your knowledge in various areas.
Greater Control Over Your Career: Freelancing full-time allows you to take complete control over your career trajectory. You can choose to specialize in a specific niche or explore multiple areas of interest, as well as set your own rates, negotiate contracts, and determine the direction of your business.
Improved Work-Life Integration: Being a full-time freelancer offers the potential for better work-life integration. With the ability to customize your work schedule and location, you can create a healthy balance between your personal life and professional commitments, thus avoiding a burnout.
Some of the disadvantages of being a full-time freelancer include:
Financial Uncertainty: Unlike a traditional job with a fixed salary, freelancers often face irregular income streams. This unpredictability can make it challenging to maintain a stable financial situation and plan for the future.
Self-Employment Responsibilities: As a full-time freelancer, you are responsible for managing all aspects of your business. This includes marketing your services, finding clients, negotiating contracts, handling administrative tasks, and ensuring timely payments.
Lack of Benefits & Job Security: Full-time freelancers typically do not receive employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation or sick leave, and other perks provided by traditional employers. Additionally, without a traditional employment contract, you may face a higher stress level from uncertainty regarding job security.
Isolation: Working as a full-time freelancer often means working independently, without the social interactions and networking opportunities that come with a traditional office environment. The absence of colleagues and a professional network can lead to feelings of isolation and limit your exposure to potential clients or collaborative opportunities.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Freelancing Part-Time
There are two types of part-time freelancers: individuals who maintain stable jobs while supplementing their income by freelancing in their spare time and those who do not work full-time and earn a small income doing part-time work. They will generally work around 10-15 hours per week, depending on their personal preferences and workload.
Part-time freelancing is often referred to as a ‘side hustle’, and is popular with stay-at-home parents and students looking to supplement their income.
Some advantages of being a part-time freelancer include:
Supplemental Income: Part-time freelancing allows you to earn extra income alongside your regular job or other commitments. It can be a valuable source of additional funds to pay off debts, save for a specific goal, or enhance your financial stability.
Flexible Part-Time Work: Part-time freelancing is an excellent way to earn an income while studying or being a stay-at-home parent. It can help you to contribute to your household expenses while taking care of your primary responsibilities.
Reduced Financial Risk: By freelancing part-time, you can test the waters of self-employment without completely abandoning the security of a steady paycheck. It allows you to explore freelancing as a side venture while maintaining a safety net to cover your basic needs.
Skill Development & Exploration: Part-time freelancing offers an opportunity to expand your skills, diversify your portfolio, and explore different industries or niches. You can take on projects that align with your interests or challenge you to learn new things, without the pressure of solely relying on freelancing for your livelihood.
Some disadvantages of being a part-time freelancer include:
Limited Availability & Workload Constraints: Working as a part-time freelancer means you have limited hours available to dedicate to client work. Balancing freelancing with other commitments can also lead to time constraints and difficulty meeting deadlines, which may impact client satisfaction and future opportunities.
Increased Responsibilities: Part-time freelancing requires effective time management and the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities. Balancing your regular job, personal commitments, and freelancing projects can become overwhelming, leading to stress and potential burnout.
No Access to Benefits: Part-time freelancers without a full-time job do not have access to employee benefits, similar to full-time freelancers. This means you’ll need to cover your own health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits.
Challenges Establishing a Professional Network: Building and maintaining a professional network can be more challenging for part-time freelancers. With limited availability, it may be difficult to attend industry events and networking functions.
Income Stability & Financial Considerations
When comparing income stability factors between full-time and part-time freelancing, it becomes evident that full-time freelancing offers the potential for a more consistent and lucrative income in the long run. However, those who freelance part-time to supplement their income will undoubtedly enjoy the highest level of income stability.
As a full-time freelancer, you have the ability to take on a higher volume of projects due to your increased availability. This translates into a more consistent workload, reducing the risk of experiencing significant gaps between projects. However, building a solid client base takes time and effort, especially when starting as a full-time freelancer. Moreover, you might find time to explore additional sources of income, such as venturing into affiliate marketing or starting your own YouTube channel.
Initially, it may be challenging to secure a steady stream of clients, resulting in lower income during the early stages. However, once you establish relationships and a reputation in your industry, client referrals and repeat business can provide a more stable income source.
Part-time freelancers often have other sources of income, such as a regular job or alternative employment. This additional stability provides a consistent financial foundation while freelancing on the side. Even if freelancing income fluctuates, their income from other sources can help meet basic financial needs.
However, part-time freelancers have limited opportunities for income growth due to the restricted amount of time available for client work. Balancing freelancing with other commitments means fewer hours dedicated to freelancing projects, potentially restricting the ability to take on more lucrative or time-intensive projects.
Flexibility & Work-Life Balance
Flexibility and work-life balance are crucial considerations when comparing full-time and part-time freelancing. Full-time freelancers have the flexibility to set their own work hours and set a schedule that suits their preferences. They can choose to work during their most productive times or accommodate personal commitments and preferences.
Part-time freelancing offers the advantage of balancing your freelance work with other commitments, such as a regular job, family responsibilities, or personal pursuits. However, juggling two jobs can cause strain and an imbalance between work and personal life. Part-time freelancers must find the right balance between their freelancing work and other obligations. This requires effective time management, prioritization, and the ability to set realistic expectations with clients regarding availability and project timelines.
Career Growth & Professional Development
Full-time freelancers have the advantage of dedicating their full attention and efforts to their freelance careers. They can invest more time in refining their skills, expanding their knowledge, and consistently delivering high-quality work, which can lead to increased recognition and opportunities for career growth.
They also have more availability to actively engage in networking and building a strong professional network. Attending industry events, collaborating with other freelancers or professionals, and participating in online communities become easier when freelancing full-time. These connections can lead to valuable collaborations, referrals, and access to new opportunities.
On the other hand, part-time freelancers have the opportunity to develop their skills gradually while maintaining their other commitments. They can take on projects that align with their interests and use their freelancing work as a platform for learning and growth. Freelancers who work part-time can still actively build and maintain professional networks, albeit with limited availability. Online platforms, social media, and industry-specific communities provide avenues for connecting with peers, potential clients, and industry influencers.
The choice between freelancing full-time or part-time depends on individual circumstances, goals, and preferences. Full-time freelancing offers increased earning potential, flexibility, and control over one’s career. However, it comes with financial uncertainty, self-employment responsibilities, and potential isolation.
Part-time freelancing provides supplemental income, flexibility to balance other commitments, and gradual skill development. However, it may have limitations on income growth, juggling responsibilities, and challenges in building a strong client base. Ultimately, individuals must consider their financial needs, work-life balance preferences, and career aspirations when deciding between full-time and part-time freelancing