Becoming a freelancer: a great opportunity or a cold shower?


The lure of freelancing? More freedom, flexibility and autonomy. However, freelancing also often means more unpredictability, more administration and hidden costs. Do the benefits actually outweigh the disadvantages? It’s up to you to answer that question. We list the benefits and advantages below so that you can make an informed choice.

The pitfalls of freelancing

As an employee, you don’t have to worry much about administration. You get a fixed monthly wage and paid leave, most taxes are already deducted from your wage and you are insured against industrial accidents and professional liability. If you fall ill, you are entitled to a guaranteed income for the first thirty days.

Things are quite different if you are a freelancer. Health problems? Want some time off? You don’t get paid. You can also forget about the nice extras you get as an employee, such as a Christmas bonus or luncheon vouchers. You get paid for the work you do, not by the hour or by the day (unless you agree this with your client). No work means no income. So you always have to be on the lookout for work, which can be quite challenging. In addition, you have a lot of administrative work. You have to monitor your financial situation and accounts yourself (unless you entrust someone else with this, which results in additional costs).

If I were a full-time freelancer, I’d miss the fantastic colleagues and students who I have had the great pleasure to work with during my half-time job at Ghent University. Financial security is also an important element. Defaulters seriously ruin my mood as a half-time freelancer, but fortunately my financial situation is only in part dependent on freelance work.’

Freedom and other benefits

Obviously, freelancing is not all doom and gloom. For starters, you have great working time flexibility. You work when this suits you – it’s okay to have a day off on Monday and to work hard on Sunday. That’s great, isn’t it? Please take into account that you will often perform more working hours in practice (you obviously want to help your clients as well as you can). Freelance work can bring fast money: you work as much as you can handle yourself.

When you work and where you work actually do not really matter anymore. So you can comfortably stay at home during rush hour – unless some clients expect you at set times.

Since you are your own boss, you can easily dismiss annoying clients and/or dull projects.

As a freelancer, you determine who you want to work for. This results in a great deal of diversity.’

Last but not least, you may have to do everything yourself – administration and sales as well as the marketing of your own brand – but this means you remain in full control. You set your rates and negotiate with your clients.

The main benefit is that you are your own boss. I can do what I want and can say ‘no’ to things I do not want to do.’

United Freelancers helps you on your way.

Being a freelancer does not mean being alone or doing everything by yourself. United Freelancers unites freelancers and provides individual support, legal assistance and professional advice (for instance to limit certain risks for self-employed people). You can also engage in collective negotiatons, as sometimes you achieve better results together than alone. Are you thinking about self-employment? Or do you want to be self-employed in a secondary profession? Do not hesitate to contact us. ACV members can rely on their support free of charge.

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Auteur: Jan Deceunynck | Photo: iCloud