ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Downsides To Being A Freelancer

Updated on February 10, 2014
Source

As someone who’s planning to transition to full freelance and independent contractor work, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s great. If you do it right you can work from anywhere in the world, set your own schedule, and take on as much or as little work as you want. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. There are a lot of downsides to being a freelancer or an independent contractor, and you should know about them before you decide to make freelancing a career.

  • It’s hard to find steady work. Not having enough work to hire full-time, year-round employees is a big reason why companies hire freelancers. Unfortunately for freelancers it means that even if you do pick up a fairly steady contract you could still have weeks or months without work. More likely, you’ll be working project by project. That means not only your workload, but also your income, is questionable.
  • The benefits are non-existent. This is another reason why companies like to hire freelancers. They’re not full-time employees, and they’re not salaried, so they don’t have to do anything in terms of health insurance or retirement plans. You’ll have to take care of all that on your own. And paid vacation? Forget it.
  • Taxes are terrible. When you’re a freelancer or an independent contractor you take care of all the tax issues yourself. These tax issues include an extra self-employment tax, and unless the freelance companies you’re working for are very accommodating, they won’t withhold any money for state or federal taxes. Because of this the government might make you pay taxes quarterly, and it also means that you’re not going to get a refund, you’re going to owe the government a check. Budget accordingly. If you’re interested in learning more about quarterly taxes, known as estimated taxes, see form 1040ES here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040es.pdf
  • You work in order to find work. Instead of going into the same office every day, as a freelancer you’re going to be scouring the internet for jobs. That means hours, days, and even weeks of work before you find a job that will actually pay you.

These are the main downsides that I’ve noticed so far, but keep in mind that I’ve only been a freelancer for about six months, and I’m still working at my day job. These are just the downsides to being a freelancer than anyone considering entering the field may want to keep in mind.

In my opinion, however, the two biggest downsides to being a freelancer are the unpredictable income and the taxes. Unpredictable income is easier to work with if you have savings, but taxes are a nightmare. You have to jump through some hoops to determine if you need to pay quarterly estimated taxes, and then you need to jump through some more to find out how much you owe. At the end of the year you need to tie it all together with a bunch of 1099 forms, 1040ES forms, and other IRS paperwork. It’s hard, and I’m the first to admit I haven’t quite figured it out yet. Let’s hope I don’t get hit with a penalty for not paying quarterly estimated taxes this year.

On that note, if anyone has extra freelance tax advice, aside from going to a tax professional, I’d love to hear it. Other than that, these are the main downsides to being a freelancer that I’d recommend everyone keep in mind before they make the career jump.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • OnBlackGlass profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      4 years ago from United States

      I agree, it is nice to be able to take days off with no explanation! There are some office coworkers that I could do without, too.

      I will definitely take a look at some of your articles, Lisa. I think it's hard to get started when it comes to freelancing, and actually getting paid to write. In my next blog I talk about the website that I used to find a few paid writing jobs. It is like many other job websites where you send out a bunch of resumes and only get a few replies, but it does offer legitimate freelance work. It's called Flexjobs.com, and it does require a paid subscription, but with an online couple it's usually only about $35 for a year. It's something you may want to look into if you'd like legitimate freelance writing work.

    • lisavanvorst profile image

      Lisa VanVorst 

      4 years ago from New Jersey

      Interesting and informative article. I am unemployed and would like to get paid for my writing but honestly I don't know where to start. Most ads that say make money at home are just plain bogus. Any ideas where to start. If you see my work on hubpages I do write informative articles. But who would be interested in such? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    • translationbase profile image

      Florin Velescu 

      4 years ago from Iasi

      Even if you are true, there are a lot of benefits in being a freelancer, like the working hours. You don't have to see the same faces at the office everyday, if you get upset you can take a day off without any explanations and so on.

      Really enjoyed your article,

      Cheers

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)