Being a freelance web designer is an interesting and engaging experience. However, there are strong advantages and disadvantages to being one and knowing them beforehand can ensure that you’re making the right career decisions.
A huge advantage to being a freelance web designer is the freedom to create a customized schedule that is suitable to your lifestyle. Work hours can be very flexible, accommodating regular 9 to 5 workers and night owls alike. This is in obvious contrast to working for a company, where employers are unlikely to be sympathetic to the fact that you may have had a mere 2 hours of sleep prior to the meeting they expect you to attend.
I enjoy working at local coffee shops and drawing inspiration from the fast-paced world outside.
Another advantage is the wide scope of things you can learn on the job. No two projects are ever identical, and there is something new to be learned from every project. For example, while I myself started off strictly as web designer, I have since expanded into the exciting fields of branding and SEO.
Not only do you learn on the job, you can learn at your own pace. If you want to learn JQuery because you think it will be of use down the line, you can just go ahead and do it without the worry of colleagues or supervisors standing over your shoulder. In fact, the best freelancers I know are the ones who constantly add to their technique and knowledge wealth through subscription to online magazines and discussions with other web professionals.
Of course, there are downsides to freelancing, the biggest one being the potential lack of financial stability. With the market fluctuating as it does, it is at times difficult to predict when your next paycheck will be coming.
To me, that’s the scariest thing about freelancing.
The recommended strategy is to build up an emergency fund for those months where work might be slow. Also, do not become a full-fledged freelancer until you have secured a client base. If you have another job, keep it until you have a good head start.