For years, I’ve enjoyed the freelance lifestyle.
But in September 2016, I shocked everyone I knew: I scaled back my freelancing clients and accepted a full-time position with Student Loan Hero.
In a lot of ways, I still enjoy the freelance lifestyle. My job is remote, so I still work from home (yes, sometimes in my pajamas). There is a great deal of flexibility, so I am still available for my son and involved in my community.
I’m not the only freelancer to look for a little more pay stability. I know a few freelancers who have taken full-time jobs with companies in the last few months, as well.
If you’re on the fence about continuing to freelance, think about what’s important for you in a job and consider the following.
Office job vs. remote work
I chose to stick with remote work for my W-2 job. It leaves space for freedom and flexibility while offering a steady paycheck and benefits.
Flexibility in my day is the most important consideration for me, and remote work offers that flexibility.
Not everyone has the same priorities, though. Kelly Whalen recently returned to the office after freelancing for nine years. Rather than worrying about flexibility, Whalen is more interested in new challenges since her family moved.
“Moving to a new area and taking a break for a few months to do so left me feeling like I wanted to try something new,” Whalen says. “Since my kids are now all older, I thought it would be a good time to try and make the transition.”
Whalen also points out that after a while, freelancers can get burned out or lose motivation. Working in an office can help you get over that feeling. You kickstart something different, begin a new routine, and it forces you to get the work done. No laying around in bed trying to find the motivation to start your remote assignments.
Plus, as a newcomer to the area, she thought working in an office could help her meet new people and settle in a little better.
“I felt it would be good for me to see and be around people in the office because we’re so new to the area,” Whalen says. Face time matters when you want to put down roots in a new community or simply get more involved in your current neighborhood.
Giving up flexibility for stability
Whenever you give up some of your freelancing work for a “real” job, expect to give up some degree of flexibility. While there’s still a lot of flexibility in my workday as a remote employee, I don’t have total autonomy.
I agreed to attend online video meetings when I took this job, so there are times each week when I’ve got to show up for meetings. It took some getting used to; I have to block out those times and shift some of my other activities to accommodate the meeting schedule.
Whalen also agrees that one of the toughest things about leaving freelancing behind is her inability to set her own schedule. “I do miss the flexibility of being able to work around appointments, errands, and homework sessions,” she says.
But the stability can be worth what you give up in flexibility. Knowing that I’ll receive a paycheck twice a month makes a big difference. I know exactly how much I’ll earn and I don’t have to chase down clients who don’t pay. That makes planning my spending a little easier — and that’s worth attending a handful of meetings each week.
In many cases, working full time doesn’t mean that you have to give up freelancing completely. I still have a couple of clients that provide me with extra income on top of my full-time job.
Leaving your work behind
Burnout is a major challenge of freelancing.
One of the reasons I turned to a steady, full-time job was the mounting burnout. When you freelance, you never leave your work behind. It follows you everywhere — even when you’re on vacation.
“I love being able to leave my work at work,” says Whalen. “That never happened when I worked from home.”
When Whalen clocks out at the end of the day, she’s done until she clocks back in the next day. She doesn’t feel like there’s one more project to tinker with and there isn’t a computer in the next room calling to her.
If you feel like you can’t ever get a break from the work you have to do, taking a full-time job can make sense. Even working remotely can provide this benefit. When I get through my task list, I feel comfortable taking a break.
One of the hazards of freelancing is becoming a social hermit. I’m an introvert, so it’s not a huge deal for me to spend a lot of time by myself. But I still like to see people sometimes. Working at a coffee shop or co-working space isn’t the same as having colleagues who share your work experience.
Whalen also likes the in-person contact that comes with working in an office. “I really like being around people,” she says. “Collaborating and talking things out in person is really helpful.”
If you feel isolated as a freelancer, becoming a full-time employee can help. Corporate events like happy hours, holiday parties, or even weekend retreats all help workers feel included and part of a team.
Back to the 9-to-5
There’s nothing wrong with heading back into the workforce after you’ve done a stint of freelancing. What matters is that you look at your goals and priorities — and do what makes you happy.
Figure out what matters most to you and decide if working full time can help you achieve those goals more efficiently than freelancing. Whether it’s stability, benefits, or the desire to connect with new people, you can get perks with a real job that you can’t get with freelancing.
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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