Latest News - 101 Reasons Freelancers Do It Better (10/09/2009)
Thursday Sep 10
Freelancers cited as more Productive
101 Reasons Freelancers Do it Better
A happy worker is a productive worker, and it's hard to find a happier lot than freelancers. Whether they're entrepreneurs, Web workers or something in between, freelancers enjoy a better lifestyle than their cube-dwelling brethren. Read on for 101 reasons why.
Contrary to popular belief, freelancers and other people who work at home don't sit around watching talk shows all day. There are, however, a few perks that come along with having a flexible work schedule.
- Time is on your side: If you charge an hourly rate, clients aren't likely to drag their feet on the details you need to get the job done. Compare that with office workers, who often have to wait for information to funnel through various bureaucratic channels.
- There's a two-hour wait? That's OK, I'll bring my laptop: Errands that might require office workers to take an extensive lunch break or half day out of the office can be turned into productive work time for freelancers.
- You can work through lunch and get done early: Eating lunch at your desk is slightly less depressing when you're at home, and it saves time.
- Squirreling away "me time":You can load up on work now so that you can do some serious relaxing later.
- Meetings about nothing: Corporate workers are often required to attend time-wasting meetings — like quarterly sales reviews or monthly team meetings — that are scheduled to happen whether the employee is needed or not. Freelancers may need to attend meetings with clients, but they're easier to control.
- You can shop when the store is empty: By adjusting your schedule, you can go shopping without dealing with crowds.
- Opting out of a daily commute saves time: The average commute is about 23 minutes each way, adding up to almost an hour each day that you could be doing something better.
- "Sure, anytime between Wednesday and Friday is fine": Waiting around for the cable guy doesn't take time out of your life if your office is at home.
- You can work when you're most productive: When you work at your peak hours, you can save time in efficiency.
Sticking It to the Man
Big corporations have a tendency to serve high-ranking employees and shareholders above rank-and-file grunts. This is how freelancing helps you — and even others — escape their tyranny.
- You have the ability to help other small businesses save money: As a freelancer, your overhead costs are lower than a large firm, which means that you can offer a more competitive rate that is friendly to small businesses.
- Layoffs aren't a concern: A freelancer's pink slip often comes in as a trickle rather than a sudden force. You'll be able to see it coming and take action to stop it instead of living at the mercy of fate and budget cuts.
- Following your heart is easier: You can choose to eliminate working with organizations that conflict with your ethics.
- No awkward performance reviews: Performance reviews seem slightly biased toward management, don't you think? Every organization is different, but they generally consist of "this is what you're doing wrong/right" and "this is how we're going to control you in the future to make you do more of the right." Freelancers just don't have to deal with that, as performance can be rated on whether or not your clients decide to come back for more.
- Unscrupulous accountants can't cheat you out of your retirement fund: Remember Enron? Their employees lost pensions and savings when the company collapsed due to accounting malpractices. Freelancers generally don't participate in sponsored retirement plans of this sort, leaving them to invest in a variety of funds of their choosing.
Although working as a freelancer can make for a rocky financial road, following this path can lead many workers to higher earnings than their office-dwelling peers.
- You'll learn more about personal finance: Freelancing rarely provides a steady paycheck, so it offers a good lesson in responsible saving and spending. It also promotes investment, as you'll have to consider your own retirement future.
- Save on child care: Instead of paying for full-time care, you may be able to cut care back to part-time hours or even work out a schedule with your spouse that allows you to eliminate child care altogether.
- Casual clothing is cheaper: If you're working at home, it's not likely that you're wearing a designer suit on a daily basis. The opportunity to wear more casual clothes will save you money, as they're often cheaper to buy.
- You'll learn more about taxes: Freelancing involves filing taxes that are often more complicated than an office worker's. Most are subject to self-employment taxes and quarterly payments. It sounds like a drag, but it can spark a motivation to take advantage of more public programs.
- Save money on car maintenance: By not commuting, you're reducing wear and tear on your car, extending its life.
- Save money on fuel: On the same note, not commuting helps you avoid spending lots of money on gas.
- You can get rid of your car altogether: If it works for your situation, you may be able to opt out of having a car at all. That means no car, insurance, inspection or registration payments. That's on top of the savings you're probably already enjoying from not really driving your car.
- Your level of career-loathing spending is reduced or eliminated: Expensive vacations, trips to the spa and gallons of fruity alcoholic drinks are often indulged in because of a need to release work- related stress. Freelancers are generally happier and more satisfied by their work, so this type of spending is not as prevalent.
- Save on dry cleaning: Work clothes are often dry clean only, but work-at-home clothes are generally wash and wear.
- Home-office tax deduction: If you use a specific part of your home solely for working, you qualify for a tax deduction.
- Better pay: Freelancers generally earn more because employers don't have to deal with the overhead of keeping a full-time employee.
- When buying a house, you don't have to consider a daily commute: A commute time of zero allows you to buy a home in a more affordable but possibly far-flung area.
- Control over your hourly rate: Freelancers decide how much to charge for their services, determining just how much their time is worth.
- Your hobbies are cheaper: Just because you do something as a profession doesn't mean you have to stop doing it for fun. For example, photographers can take high-quality photos of their own family using professional equipment they've purchased for paid work.
- If you need a raise, you can increase your rates or work more: Freelancers aren't subject to scheduled .0368-percent raises per year.
Freelancing benefits workers by allowing them to devote more time and attention to relationships they want to pursue, while eliminating those that aren't worth the trouble.
- You're not stuck with Crazy for the next 30 years: Every office has a Crazy; that one person in the group that just isn't right and will never, ever leave the company. Office workers are stuck with this person until retirement, while freelancers are done with Crazy once the project is complete.
- You'll learn the fine art of networking: Freelancers often get a majority of their work through contacts and word of mouth, so the incentive is there to get out and sell yourself.
- Freelancing is more personal: As you develop networking relationships and come to see loyal clients as friends, you realize that freelancing is infinitely more personal than dealing with others as a corporate employee.
- Your dog loves you more: If you're at home, your dog doesn't need to be kenneled or taken to doggie day care. In fact, Poochie just might be treated to a mind-clearing stroll around the block.
- You choose your boss: Everyone answers to someone, and freelancers are no exception. However, freelancers answer to clients, a boss that can be chosen and changed with relative ease.
- Stinky food? Who cares!: If you're all by your lonesome, no one will mind if you eat a gouda, sauerkraut and pepper sandwich with anchovies.
Whatever your work arrangement, there's no denying that employment is a see-saw of both stress and satisfaction. These are the ways in which freelancing tips the scale in your favor.
- Control freaks welcome: Freelancers have to take on many roles, from marketing to accounting. A desire to have your hands on every little detail is not only acceptable, it's preferred.
- You can donate your talent to a worthy cause: Doing a little pro-bono work isn't just fulfilling for your soul, it's also an excellent word-of-mouth marketing tool. You're free to volunteer your services this way when you're the boss.
- Diversity: Instead of doing the same thing day in and day out, you can pick up a variety of projects to keep you occupied.
- You decide what to work on: Freelancers can drop clients that just aren't worth the hassle.
- You can balance risk: Corporate employees have all of their eggs in one basket. Freelancers generally work for more than one client at a time, so if you're dropped by one client, you don't get completely wiped out.
- You can do what you love: Freelancing allows for the freedom to take on projects that pique your interest.
- Avoid traffic stress: For most people, traffic is not fun. In fact, it's downright infuriating. Freelancers who work at home avoid commute-related stress.
- You'll satisfy your hunting-and-gathering instinct: Most freelancers spend about half of their time drumming up business and half of their time actually working.
- It's hard to get bored: Freelancing is a lot like chronic job-hopping. Once you have a chance to really get tired of the way things work, you're already moving on to the next big thing.
- No office politics: Office cliques, management brownnosing and superiority complexes just don't hold up when there's no structure to support them.
Even the most low-impact office work can have a negative effect on your health. This is how freelancing eliminates or improves on the health problems that plague office workers.
- No fluorescent lighting: Fluorescent lighting has the power to suck the life out of you. If you're freelancing at home, you have the option to use more health-friendly ambient lighting or even ultraviolet bulbs.
- You're safer: Not having to commute means that fender benders, floods, snow and ice aren't a daily concern.
- Ergonomics are simplified: When offices buy furniture, it's generally of the one-size- fits-all variety. If you're in charge of buying your own equipment, you're able to create a workstation that fits your body better.
- No workplace violence: If you're not working in an office, you don't have to be worried about the day when Joe Officeworker finally hits his limit and goes ballistic.
- You don't have to eat on a schedule: Many weight-loss programs recommend that you eat smaller, more frequent meals during the day. Working at home makes it easier to follow this type of regimen.
- Lunch is a home-cooked meal: If you work at home, you have an opportunity every day to eat a healthy, home-cooked meal for lunch instead of something greasy from the drive-through.
- You don't have to burn as much sick time: No one wants to work when they're sick, but it's more manageable at home. Plus, you're less exposed to illnesses at home, so chances are that you'll be less likely to pick something up in the first place.
- You can use an exercise-ball chair and no one will think you're insane: Exercise balls are touted as a healthier alternative to traditional office chairs, but it's hard to imagine using one in a traditional office. Working at home, you're free to exercise while sitting without judgment.
- Power napping is easier: If you're freelancing at home, taking a health- and productivity-boosting power nap is as easy as walking a few steps to your bedroom or favorite couch.
- You can eat healthier foods: It's not likely that you keep a vending machine stocked with sugary snacks at home, but you probably have a refrigerator that's great for keeping fresh, healthy foods available.
- You'll be less tempted to eat junk food: Office food is a very strange phenomenon. Three-day old donuts that would otherwise not pass muster are quickly gobbled up due to a toxic mix of boredom, compulsion and a simple a desire to get something for free. Ultimately, it often results in poor nutrition choices while on the job. Freelancers don't have to deal with this. That is, of course, not counting last night's leftovers.
Motivation is what drives you. Whether it's a fear of your boss or a genuine love for your field, motivation can greatly affect your job satisfaction.
- Higher productivity benefits you, not your manager: When office workers can complete a task more efficiently, the company benefits. When freelancers find higher productivity, they benefit themselves.
- You'll get credit for everything: When working for a corporation, workers generally give up the right to own their work. So if you're working for a large advertising agency and you come up with the next big thing, the idea belongs to the company, whether you stay there or not. Unless you agree to contracts stipulating otherwise, working as a freelancer allows you to put your name all over everything you produce.
- You can learn more: By working with a number of different clients, you may pick up different insights and perspectives on an industry.
- You define your own future: Freelancers don't have to worry about whether or not they have "management potential"; they're already the CEO.
- You'll develop an impressive portfolio: When working as a freelancer, excellence tends to snowball.
- You can flex your creative muscles: As a freelancer, you have the ability to seek out clients who need the kind of services that you want to provide.
- You'll be challenged: Whether it's figuring out your legal status or dealing with a demanding customer, freelancing presents new hurdles to climb, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
- Rewards are immediate: Freelancers don't toil away for 20 years just to be presented with a gold watch and a pat on the back. Instead, they get work, bonuses and positive networking that's worth infinitely more.
- Pushing yourself pays off: Your growth is only limited by your imagination and effort.
- Your motivation is based on production, not a time clock: If you finish work faster than you were supposed to, you won't have to kill time until 5 p.m.; when you're done for the day, you can actually be done.
Your working environment can have a huge impact on your productivity and happiness. These are the ways in which freelancers have the upper hand.
- You control the volume: If you like ambient noise, you can work with the radio on or go to a coffee shop. If you prefer absolute quiet, you can keep it that way. Office workers have little to no control over the noise in their environment.
- Your house will be cleaner: If you're at home all day, you're bound to be irked if it's dirty, and you may feel compelled to clean up your act.
- You don't have to feel cramped: Sharing spaces with your co-workers is a thing of the past.
- You can use Firefox if you want to: Instead of having to conform to a corporate IT policy, you're free to choose your own preferred software.
- Solitude: Some find freelance work to be lonely, but many others enjoy the solitude that it offers.
- Increased productivity: Working outside of an office environment usually means that you're subject to fewer distractions and thus are able to be more productive.
- Catch a breeze: Unlike many office environments, your windows at home can actually be opened.
- Rocking out is OK: You can listen to music or watch TV in the background without worrying about bothering a cube neighbor.
- You can have the corner office if you feel like it: Working at home means you don't have to compete with co-workers for prime office real estate.
- You'll never get behind on laundry or dishes: Workers sometimes need to take a quick break to clear their mind. Office workers might grab a cup of coffee. Home workers can knock out some quick housework.
Freelancers are generally able to define how, when and where they work. This fosters a situation that allows them to take care of business, plus a few other things.
- You can go on your kid's field trip: When Junior's class needs a chaperone for the zoo, you can just rearrange your schedule instead of having to worry about requesting time off and qualifying for paid leave.
- Your work hours aren't set in stone: If you find yourself wide awake at 4 a.m. with lots of ideas, you can knock out some work on the spot and maybe even get done early for the day.
- You can hop in the pool while it's still light outside: If you feel like taking a swim in the middle of the day, it's only a matter of working later or harder.
- Your vision is important: Clients value your opinion.
- Working vacations are possible: If you're one of those crazy workaholic types who can't bear to be without work to do, you can take your show on the road.
- Take your grandmother to the doctor: Spend time with your elderly relatives who may not get much attention while other family members are at work. You can always adjust your schedule to accommodate the extra time.
- Relocation isn't a big deal: If you decide it's time to move to a different city, you don't have to worry about finding a new job.
- You can go back to school: If you want to pursue further education, you can make room in your day to attend classes.
- You can accommodate a disability: Whether it's limited mobility or agoraphobia, working at home as a freelancer can open up doors to those who might face challenges in an office setting.
- Work is wherever you want it to be: Whether it's the couch, the coffee shop or even the beach, your location is completely your choice.
- You can always go back: Even if you give up your freelance lifestyle temporarily, you're not surrendering everything. You'll still have your contacts, portfolio and a wealth of industry knowledge. In the corporate world, leaving a job often means starting at the bottom of the totem pole somewhere new.
- You can expand your reach: Instead of limiting yourself to one employer in a specific location, you can spread yourself out to firms all over the country and even the world.
- You can set your schedule to accommodate your family's needs: If you need to start work early to finish in time to get the kids to band practice, you have the flexibility to do so.
- You can pick up and stop work at any time: With a flexible schedule, you can sporadically pursue other interests instead of being chained to a desk for eight hours at a time.
Is This the Fun Part?
These reasons aren't life-changers, but they are fun little perks that come along with being a freelancer.
- It's easy to nurse a caffeine addiction: Whether you're at home or using public wifi, chances are you're not far from a nice cup of coffee that's better than the usual office swill.
- You'll always have a last-minute gift: Freelancers specializing in personal services can offer their assistance as a gift.
- "Freelance" just sounds cool: Cube dwellers are naturally jealous of freelance workers, and that's perfectly alright. So what if it's because they think you work in your underwear?
- You get to use really neat tools: The Internet is full of fun applications that are designed to make a freelancer's life easier.
- Every day is Casual Friday: We've already touched on this, but it's just so fun to rub it in. Jeans? OK. Shorts? Sure.
- You might end up in the paper: If you create a compelling press release for your freelancing business, media outlets may publish it and give you bragging rights.
- You can have a beer with lunch: Who is going to notice or even care?
- You can feel smug about saving the environment: By eliminating the need for a separate office space and commuting emissions, you're greener than most office workers.
- You may score free travel: Clients might want to fly you out to their site.
- You have an excuse to buy an iPhone: You need an effective device for phone, email and text communication, don't you?
- If your red stapler gets stolen, the list of suspects is significantly shorter: Your productivity suffers if you have to hunt down office supplies that walk away. If you can narrow it down to the cat, your 11-year old and your spouse, making interrogations simply take up less time.
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