13+ Reasons Why Right Now Is a Great Time to Be a Freelancer

Why wait?

Many would-be freelancers spend all of their time learning about freelancing and none of their time actually being a freelancer. If you ask, many will tell you that they are waiting for the right time to start.

But just when is the time right to start freelancing? My question to all of those who put off starting is this: why wait?

Of course, you have your excuses. You need an even bigger portfolio before you can start. You’re not sure whether anyone would actually hire you. You’re waiting for the economy to improve. The list goes on…

If you’ve done your homework and prepared yourself, there’s no real reason to wait to start freelancing. That perfect time that you are waiting for so that you can start a freelancing business may never come.

In this post, I provide 13 reasons why I think that right now is a great time to be a freelancer.

Why Right Now Is a Great Time to Be Freelancing

In my opinion, this is one of the best ever times to be a freelancer. Here’s why:

  1. Internet access. A decade ago, many Internet users relied on a slow dial-up connection to connect. Working with a dial-up connection was a slow, tedious process. I should know. A decade ago, I was one of the dial-up users…and I was freelancing. Today, however, many more Internet users have access to a high-speed connection. The difference between working using high-speed access and dial-up is like the difference between night and day.
  2. Free WiFi. It used to be hard to find free wireless Internet access when you traveled. You had to really search to find a connection. Now free WiFi is nearly everywhere–in restaurants, hotels, airports and even in hospital waiting areas. On a recent road trip, I discovered that in the U.S. many Interstate rest stops even include free WiFi.
  3. Mobile technology. Improvements in mobile technology mean it’s no longer necessary to be chained to your desk to get your work done. You can grab any one of a whole array of mobile devices (depending on what type of work you need to do) and work offsite. It doesn’t matter whether you’re traveling or just need a change of scenery. Mobile freelancing is easier than ever.
  4. Job security. People usually think in terms of a traditional job when they think of job security. But, I beg to differ. I think that being a freelancer is one of the most secure jobs that you can have. Look at it this way–while you may put up with the feast or famine cycle you don’t have to worry about being chosen for a reduction-in-forces by some high-level executive whom you’ve never met. If you lose your job as a freelancer, it’s because you’ve decided to quit.
  5. Freelancing is more accepted socially. Freelancing used to be widely misunderstood. Most long-time freelancers have stories about how friends, family, and even neighbors didn’t understand why they were at home during the day. However, the number of freelancers has increased. Now that a significant portion of the population (depending on which study you read) are self-employed or employed by small business, more people than ever understand what freelancing is about.
  6. Cool new apps. If it seems to you like new apps are coming out every day, you’re right. Not only are there applications for your desktop–now there are apps for your phone, your tablet, and even for your favorite social media account. If you need to solve a problem, there’s probably an app to help you do it (or there will be very soon).
  7. More Opportunities. The growing popularity of the Internet has created opportunities for work that barely existed a decade ago. Witness the nearly insatiable demand for online content–not only for websites but also for social media. This new demand has created new opportunities for freelance writers, freelance artists, and other freelancers who can create good quality content.
  8. Companies are more apt to use freelancers. What most fail to realize is that a slow economy often leads to more opportunities for freelancers. That’s because the work still has to get done and somebody has to do it. If that somebody is not an employee, then who do you think it will be? That’s right! It’s likely to be a freelancer.
  9. Freelancing is kind to the environment. It’s not mentioned as much as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about it. The environment is still important. As a freelancer (who likely works from home), you can give yourself a huge pat on the back for not having a daily commute to work. Not driving to work each day means that you use less fossil fuel and that your car emits fewer fumes.
  10. You can give yourself a raise. As a traditional employee, it was tough to get a raise or promotion. Not only did you have to impress your immediate boss, but that raise or promotion had to be approved by someone higher up in the food chain (likely the same exec who never met you in #3). As a freelancer, you can give yourself a raise whenever you like by either raising your rates or accepting more work.
  11. Clients are looking for you right now. How do I know this? Easy. I’ve had clients contact me (yes, recently) without me having to lift a finger. How did they find me? They were searching for freelancers, that’s how. If they found me, they could find you too if you built up your web presence.
  12. You can start part-time. I think people forget this when they think about becoming a freelancer. They tend to think in terms of being a freelancer or being a traditional employee. But there’s no reason that you can’t do both. You don’t have to quit your day job before you start freelancing. There are plenty of successful part-time freelancers out there.
  13. Freelancing gives you much-needed experience. If you’re waiting to get more experience before you start freelancing, you may want to think again. Freelancing can expose you to a wider variety of projects than you’d get to work on as a traditional employee. Because they work with a wide variety of clients, freelancers often get more experience more quickly than others in the same field.
  14. There’s no time like the present. I can’t promise you that tomorrow won’t have even better opportunities. I can’t even promise you that you’ll be successful if you start freelancing right now. What I do know is that you won’t succeed if you don’t ever start.

Your Turn

Do you think it’s a good time to be a freelancer?

Why, or why not?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by ronnie44052

Comments

  1. says

    All great reasons, especially #4. I know what it’s like to be laid off during hard times. It’s very demoralizing. Feast-or-Famine aside, any freelancer who works hard only has to worry about him/herself. It’s very liberating knowing that someone at the top, who is probably well off enough to never have to worry about money, isn’t there to just let you go when their profits feel the tiniest pinch.

    I’d say the only one on this list that’s very tricky is #10. Ask any employee at a company if s/he thinks his/her pay is sufficient. Most of the time you’ll probably hear, “No! I’m underpaid and overworked!” Make that person a freelancer. What do you get? Someone who thinks $200/hr for pasting some HTML and whipping up a few templates is fair, all while salaried people doing the same job are lucky to get $16/hr. Hopefully the market balances these individuals out, but it can be easy to go nuts when the only person who is determining your pay, and when raises and rate hiking are genuinely warranted, is you. Just my personal opinion.

  2. says

    TheAL–Thanks! You’ve got some good points. I really like your take on #4. :)

    I agree that #10 is tricky, but I think it’s essential. I’ve heard of freelancers working for the same rate for years without an increase. If you let this happen to you, you actually fall behind.

    As far as a person charging $200/hr–it really depends on the market. If someone is able to earn that, keep their clients happy, AND stay busy–I say more power to them.

    I don’t see how having a high rate hurts the industry. I’m far more concerned about the many freelancers out there charging $2 or $3 an hour for a job that an employee would do for $20 or $30 an hour. Also, often, their work ends up needing to be fixed.

    Of course, that’s my take. :)

  3. says

    @Laura

    The people on both ends of the extreme, IMO, are equally but differently detrimental. But if someone can charge a lot, as at odds with the market as it may be, and find someone to pay it — why not? If someone offered me 100 grand to draw a picture, I would be lying if I tried to say I wouldn’t do it.

    I guess the part of me that loves sharing just sees that as money that could be distributed among multiple freelancers. 100k/year is nice, but it’s more than a single person truly needs to get by in most developed countries. Dividing it between two people, 50k each, is still a very fair and comfortable income. But now it’s helping two people, as opposed to an individual who may be statistically more likely to hoard the money and/or only spend in ways that benefit others with equally high incomes. However, the two+ can spend in ways that would contribute more so to the economy at large.

    In the end, it depends on how much money clients have to throw around. If every freelancer can make 100k, and the ceiling never stops, then let’s push it. That would be awesome. But money in a system is mostly finite. The more of an extreme one person makes, the less a few others make. Freelancers should always charge more than they would make in a salaried job. They need to cover expenses normally covered by the employer. But how divergent should the amounts be? Unfortunately, there is no one answer. It’s one heck of a gray area.

  4. says

    TheAl

    Great comments here!

    I totally understand your point about how nice it would be if the money would be divided up among freelancers, but sadly that’s not the typical way that a client thinks.

    In my experience, a client who is willing to hire a freelancer for $200/hr (to use your figure), but finds one instead for $100/hr doesn’t typically think to themselves, “now I can I hire two freelancers instead of one” and then proceed to do it. Instead, what usually happens is the client hires the one freelancer and then thinks, “I saved 50% on that project.”

    Of course, there may be instances when the client does hire an extra freelancer, but I think that they are probably the exception.

    What does everyone else think?

  5. says

    Another great reason is there is so much support nowadays. At one time, you couldn’t find many people so willing or able to offer advice and support. Today, however, there are forums, blogs, organizations, a union, you name it, to assist you with every aspect of freelancing and almost any type of problem you will encounter.

  6. Don F says

    As an employee who was hired out as a consultant, my company billed me out at $175 to $250 per hour. I didn’t make anything like that amount even with benefits and bonuses. The key point is to tie your bill rate to the value you provide to the customer. Don’t get hung up on a “reasonable” hourly rate. If 1 hour of your time provides the customer with a million dollar lift to their business, you better be charging more than $20 per hour!

  7. says

    HI Laura,

    Great post! Very inspiring!

    I’m a personal development blogger and I’ve just recently started my own freelance writing business.

    I could really relate to your post, because I have those exact fears and questions: will anyone want to hire me? do I have enough experience?

    But your post made me feel a lot more confident in the future, so thank you!

  8. says

    Stacey–>I agree about there being more support now. Plus, freelancing has become much more common. I read that it could be as high as 1 in 3 people. (I think that’s a little high myself.)

    Don F–>Totally agree. Selling your client on value not on price is the best strategy.

    Thuy Yau–>Best wishes to you in your freelancing.

  9. says

    What a wonderful list! The future is amazing for freelancers, and now is a great time to be one. Clients are looking for you and the opportunities are only limited by your imagination.

    Being an independent professional can be your ticket to the life and work you’ve dreamed of, if you work it right. Treat your work like a business, do the unglamorous tasks you’d rather not, and write, write, write.

    I love this life — not always easy, but always blessed.

  10. says

    Thanks Monica Carter Tagore,

    I do agree that the key is to think of freelancing as a business. I know a lot of people love the flexibility, and there is that. But you still have remember that you are running a business and act like it.

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  11. says

    Really like this line “If you lose your job as a freelancer, it’s because you’ve decided to quit.” seems quite motivating to me :)

  12. says

    I totally agree with you about this is freelancer things as long you have good reputability and you do not compete on freelancer crowd sourcing website.
    if you see project in elance or odesk the price is so competitive and its hard to get a project if you’re a new comer.

  13. says

    ameet–>Thanks! Glad you found it motivational. :)

    Han–>It is a good idea to cultivate relationships with potential clients. That has been the best way to get work, in my experience.

  14. says

    Love what you said about job security! You’ve given me a great response for my aunt, who still asks me if I have a “real” job yet.

    A client just asked me today to apply for the Marketing Director position that was just vacated at his company. My 17-year-old son has forbidden me to do so. He doesn’t want me to give up on everything I’ve built!

    @Thuy: you would be amazed to find the number of people looking for what you have to offer. You just have to start letting them know what you have to offer!

  15. says

    @Laura
    yes i agree money usually come from direct relationship with the client rather than compete on freelancer website. Thank you for sharing with us about it.

  16. says

    I agree to each and every point written over here.Freelancing is spreading its wings now then ever before.I am a part time freelancer,I do work as a full time employee as well and have to agree that freelancing has a lot of advantages over normal traditional job but the only problem I feel is what to do after working as a freelancer for some years.Should freelancing be followed by running a company.Clueless over here.

  17. says

    Yes this time is the best for freelancers. To be a good freelancer need some qualities. Good communication skills, short time communication, attention, hard working, reliability, time follower. If you can maintain this features you will be a good freelancer.

  18. Rhonda Handlon Bacon says

    Kudos on your inspiring, practical and concise article Laura. I would add a small footnote. The writer’s den location is crucial. Think lawnmowers, screaming kids or cracing rockets racing down the road in the midst of your brainstorming, vein opened and bleeding, in the zone time.
    Rhonda, ArLeaBelle, LLC

  19. says

    I think how great it is to be a freelancer really depends on your field and your specialties within that field. I became a freelance writer, editor and journalist by default when I was laid off from a newspaper job. With so many people in my skill set laid off, the freelance field is now saturated and that’s driven down wages. Sure we can find work — but the pay rate has plummeted in the past few years. A local publication I’ve written for that used to pay $2 a word now pays 20 cents a word — yet demands the same time-consuming thoroughly researched work. I get offers all the time to write 800-word blog posts for $25 — but that’s a hobby wage, not a living wage. The markets that do pay writer-journalist-editors well (well being up to $20 or $30 an hour) usually demand prior experience in a very specific specialty (like the one I saw this morning that required a PhD in geophysics or two years of experience working as an elementary school teacher). That being said, I do see how freelancing would be a great option for people working in skill sets that aren’t saturated.

  20. says

    Nothing better than to be in command of yourself.

    And that’s what I best like in my work. But your choice of being a freelancer can also depend on the niche or industry you want to work in.

    My experience says, you have to go with the flow. If you want to go upstream, it might take a lot of time before you actually bring in the dough.

    - Ron.

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