When faced with the decision of choosing a career that will  allow you freelancing opportunities or choosing a career that will cement you into a 8-5 environment can be a tad overwhelming, especially being at the start of your adult career. Freelancing V.S an 8-5 work environment, the pros & cons of both will be discussed with this 2 part series.  What’s important is that you are aware of your career environment options, that you understand them, allowing you opportunity to start planning your successful life career right now.

This may seem a tad rushed, you may feel you haven’t even tested the waters yet.  You after all still need to actually finish your educational course.  But the truth is that you can start thinking about what kind of career experience you want or desire.  You can start thinking about what makes you happy, because you will spend more time with your work than with your spouse, this is sadly fact.

“ What makes me happy?”

Be bluntly honest with yourself, no one needs to know the answer, but you sure should.  

O and the excitement of your studies may ware off, be aware of this as most people hate their jobs.  Don’t fall part of this sad trap, be honest and know who you are and what you want from your career, day to day job and life in general.

 

1.How do you want to spend your time

Freelancing does allow for flexible hours.  There is no questions about that.  If you want to take the day then you can take the day, if you need to pick up the kids then go pick up the kids.  If you want to be done with work by 3pm and go to the park every day, then you can do that. These are the freedoms that freelancing allows you, but this absolute luxury doesn’t come without its cost.

The first negative of flexi hours is that there are always time to procrastinate, always. This procrastination can be the death of your freelancing career even before it started.  You need to remember that it now becomes your responsibility when and how the work gets done, your name and business is attached to your quality.  Procrastination is one of the biggest problems all freelancers face, no matter the industry.  If you struggle with procrastination, especially when you simply don’t feel like it, well then you should consider managing this problem first, before basing your income on it.

The second negative of flexi time is that the normality of your working, sleeping and entertainment hours can become all mixed, often creating a somewhat unhealthy lifestyle environment.  Sitting in your pajamas sounds super cool, but this also mean that you most probably never brushed your teeth, or taken a shower, or….  Let’s just say that working from home allows you the opportunity to become the biggest slob you can become.

The third negative of flexi time is that everyone thinks your flexi time is their flexi time.  You will find that freelancers often have to perform at strange hours of the day. That deadlines become unreasonable and that your once upon a free time became the loose around your neck.  I hope it’s not that bad, but you get the idea.

There are those that actually prefer the normality and stability an 8-5 hour day brings to the table.  In many ways it makes everything so much simpler, your have your work time and then you have your home time.  The two staying perfectly separate from each other, no confusion.  As an established freelancer I can see the benefits of this structural lifestyle choice. Ironically your freelancing career might push you into this direction anyway, it has with our freelancing business and many others. Consider the fact that your clients (also your many new bosses) work during normal 8-5 hours.  You need to be awake and in front of your computer at some reasonable hour.  

Thus freelancing doesn’t necessarily mean you can become a vampire and only function at night. It however does allow you to go pick up the kids from school earlier or make that doctor’s appointment without permission from your boss.  

 

2.The boss situation

We all have a boss, whether you stick to the grind or decide to freelance.  The difference between the two is that a 8-5 environment allows for 1 boss (mostly), but freelancing allows for many bosses… your clients.

Yes, you do have the opportunity to choose with who you want to work in a freelancing environment, but if you don’t have enough clients to pay the bills then you will dip pretty low for that pay day.  It is this sad act of desperation that often make freelancing especially hard and draining in the early years.  Having the option to choose only comes in play when you have enough clients to choose from;)

 

3.Choosing your work local

Many of us will admit that where you work, in what actual environment, has a massive influence on whether it was a good day or a bad day.  

With a freelancing career you will be able to change environments easier, working in coffee shops or communal office parks becomes easier.  But with a 8-5 job you are forced to accept what you are given for a work environment.  Luckily times are changing and these office environments are becoming friendlier and happier to be part of, just look at Google.  

Going to work and going to a social are becoming one

 

4.Billable hours and it’s struggles

Many freelancers struggle to find the balance between billable hours and admin hours.  

Consider the fact that many young freelancers don’t charge client for meetings.  They can’t charge for the hours it takes to communicate, the hours of phone calls  and emails.  Personally I feel this should change.  You pay per hours used, however this is often not the case.

Personal Story:

We once had a client that would have full day meetings with us, no jokes.  An entire Saturday will be taken up discussing his projects that we never got paid for or even came into existence.  This went on for some years.  

Scamsters are the gangsters of freelancers , be super careful and aware of them.  You get them in all kinds of suites with all kinds of “trustworthy” faces.

In an 8-5 environment you don’t have to be faced with these time wasters.  You can dedicate yourself to your work, allowing you to not be bothered with the BS of running a business.  Freelancing is nothing other than running a business, you are either selling a product or you are selling your time.  Either way you are still in the business of selling not just creating as an 8-5 can allow.

5.Invoices V.S. Salaries

As with the billable hours, freelancers often struggle to get clients to pay their invoices.  It’s not uncommon in the freelancing biz to go with out a payday for several months, especially in the early years.  This is one of the biggest reasons why many try and fail at freelancing.  If you are serious about making your freelancing career work you will have to adapt a survival attitude to your finances.  

If you don’t have it you can’t spend it.  

Freelancing makes credit cards and loans really difficult if not near impossible in South Africa.  It is for this reason that many freelancers become cash people.  Simply because if they don’t have it they can’t spend it. This change in financial responsibility can be uplifting, knowing you have enough savings for a year, even if no further work comes in.  This is a happy and safe feeling, but it also forces you to understand the value of that years savings and to count your pennies.  Knowing that you can’t spend it on new consumables because then there is simple no more money left for the year.  As safe as this feeling can be, it can also be equally threatening and scary. You just need a few too many over spends and you can find yourself in real financial difficulty with no official financial support to help out.

A 8-5 job gives you the safety of a salary, something to not be underestimated.  In many ways this  safety net will make life way easier, getting something as simple as a cellphone contract becomes an option.  

My father is still pays for my cellphone contract, simply because I can’t proof a steady income being a freelancer.

Choosing a career path you haven’t even walk yet can be most confusing and challenging.  Some of use will hate the one and love the other, but we can be assured that neither comes with their pros without the cons.  We will continue with part two next time, completting our understanding between the pros adn cons of Freelancing V.S an 8-5 work environment.

Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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