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9-5 or going it alone - Which is best?

AS AN individual that has worked a 9-5 since graduating from university back in 2010, when I came across this question on social media recently it instantly struck a chord with me - ‘Should I become a freelancer or stay in a 9-5?’

I thought this would be an interesting question to delve into, as we live in a society where individuals are leaving their 9-5s to step into the unpredictable world of freelance.

First of all, I asked myself, 'Is there ever the right time to quit your job?'

So, what exactly is a freelancer then? The best definition I could find from good old Wikipedia is “a freelancer or freelance worker is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long term”.

Like anything else in this world there are advantages and disadvantages to freelancing. There are amazing perks to freelancing, such as the fact that you could start today if you were determined to. Networking has become ridiculously easy and with a strong portfolio and consistent LinkedIn profile you could be on your way to your first gig in no time.

A plethora of businesses are now on the lookout for great freelancers more than ever and there has been an increase with employers using contractors.

Advantages include affording people the opportunity to choose their own work schedule. I had a look on job portal Indeed.com recently and the demand for self-employed specialists was high. From freelance marketing consultants to freelance designers, that website alone indicates that the gig economy is growing.

The disadvantages of freelancing of course include the fact that work is not always consistent and there can be dry spells where you are still required to pay your bills. Company benefits are rarely provided, switching to a freelance lifestyle may not necessarily work for everyone else. As much as freelancing means personal freedom and the autonomy to be your own boss, it also does mean a level of instability and finances not always being consistent.

According to the IPSE (association of independent professionals and the self-employed), study Exploring the UK Freelance Workforce in 2016 by Kayte Jenkins says that are 2 million freelancers in the UK.

TIPS

- Work on your craft and record your work so you can present it on a website or in a physical portfolio at meetings

- Dig into your little black book and mine your contacts, professional and personal, for recommendations

- Keep online profiles updated with your latest work - LinkedIn, Klout and specialist sites such as People Per Hour are go-tos

- Collect testimonials, recommendations and references

- Assess your finances honestly so you can pick a time to jump ship and go solo without causing problems at home

- Stay aware of your personal brand and how you're presented both off and online, even when you think no one's watching!

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