How to Earn More as an Independent Contractor

Have you ever thought about working as an independent contractor, but aren’t sure where to start? Or maybe you’ve worked as one before, but are looking to switch things up. Either way — this article is for you!

What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of being an independent contractor? Is it flexibility, freedom or just easy money? Most likely it is all of those and then some. You may love having a set schedule where you can go at your own pace without anyone breathing over your shoulder, picking up side gigs on top of your already full-time job or taking those 3 months off to go backpacking through Europe. However, what most people don’t realize is that there’s more than meets the eye to being an independent contractor.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to working as a freelancer, ongoing contract worker or gig economy employee. There are downsides that can be tough to deal with if you’re not prepared for them. To make things more clear, in this article we’ve highlighted some of the pros and cons associated with working independently in order for you to make an informed decision about whether or not becoming self-employed is right for you.

Pro: Freedom & Flexibility

At first glance, this one seems like a no-brainer — who doesn’t want freedom and flexibility? We all do! But what many people forget is that while there is tremendous freedom and flexibility when working for yourself, there are also tremendous opportunities for stress.

With that flexibility can come a lack of structure or routine, which is one of the biggest sources of stress for people. Errands and household tasks have a way of creeping onto your to-do list while you’re trying to get work done, leaving you wondering where all the time went. Not to mention, there’s always this nagging fear at the back of your mind that if you don’t reply to an email within 5 minutes your client will find someone who will.

Con: Income Uncertainty & Unexpected Expenses

The number one complaint about independent contracting is income uncertainty — it just comes with the territory. You might think you’ll be able to save enough money by working independently, but when you rely on your income to pay rent or when you get hit with an unforeseen expense like a car accident that costs several thousand dollars, there’s no employer to help bail you out. And in some cases, there might not be any legal protection either.

Pro: Make Your Own Hours & Schedule

There’s nothing worse than having to punch the clock at 9am sharp when you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed before 10am (or ever). Independent contractors work for themselves, so they’re free to set their own schedule and do things like sleep in and come into the office whenever they please. There are upsides and downsides to working outside traditional hours — for example if your client is on the east coast and it’s 5pm on a Friday, you may have already missed your window for getting work submitted. But, if you’re one of those people who struggles to focus first thing in the morning, being able to come into the office at 2pm or work from home two days a week might be just what you need.

Con: Little-to-No Ongoing Professional Development Opportunities

If you’ve ever worked for an employer that offered ongoing training opportunities, chances are it wasn’t all that great. It was probably something like “Attend this 3 hour seminar and then take this test” or “Read these 10 articles and then write a summary for us.” Kinda sucky right? Well when you’re working independently there’s not much opportunity for you to further your skills or develop new ones, which can be pretty limiting for the long-term.

Pro: Potential for Higher Pay

Sure there’s a lot of overhead when it comes to working independently — you have to pay for benefits like health insurance and set aside money for taxes, all on top of needing to buy supplies and equipment before you start working. But if you’re good at what you do and work efficiently, this shouldn’t stop you from earning more than your salary as an employee. In fact, some independent contractors make upwards of $100/hr!

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