Freelancing sounds great for a lot of reasons -- no more crazy/demanding boss, the ability to work in your pajamas when you feel like it, the freedom to exercise, run errands or even nap whenever your schedule allows, etc. But if you're contemplating becoming a solopreneuer, one big worry may be holding you back. Will you make enough money if you go solo?

The latest edition of the Freelancers Union annual survey of freelancers should offer those considering making the switch to self employment some encouragement. It turns out most people make more as freelancers than they did as employees.

The survey is commission by the Freelancers Union and Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk) and analyzes data on more than 7,000 people who completed some freelance work in the current year (a mix of moonlighters, full-time freelancers, and solopreneurs).

While both parties behind the research have some incentive to paint freelancing in the rosiest light possible, the findings are fascinating and in-depth, covering the number of people freelancing (basically holding steady), the different routes into self-employment (most people are freelancers by choice), and how freelancers find work (online and through their network are the big ones). The Freelancer blog has a good write-up of the main points if you're looking for a readable overview.

Go solo, make more money

But one takeaway may be of particular interest for would-be freelancers tottering on the fence that divides employed life from self-employment. Freelancing, the survey shows, usually pays off financially -- and quickly.

The majority (60 percent) of freelancers earn more on their own than they did as employees. Of those doing better financially on their own, an impressive 78 percent managed to earn more within their first year of setting up shop as freelancers. Freelancers are also an optimistic lot. A whopping 83 percent believe their brightest days are ahead of them. Almost half expect their income to rise next year, and one third reported that demand for their services is up compared to last year.

Which isn't to say that their isn't a dissatisfied minority. As The Freelancer post points out, while half of freelancers claim they love their lifestyle so much no amount of money could persuade them to give it up (Insert skeptical eyebrow raise here. No amount of money at all?), a clearly disgruntled 25 percent would throw in the towel for a mere $5,000 in additional income.

"This seems to imply that there's a big separation between freelancing for a lifestyle choice and freelancing for non-optional financial reasons," suggests The Freelancer post. So don't get overexcited, freelancing fans -- while many, many people love freelancing, do it by choice, and reap the financial benefits, there is also a significant minority who would really love a full-time gig instead.

If you're pondering a switch to freelancing, what's holding you back from taking the plunge?

Published on: Oct 12, 2015
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