On one estimate-from the Freelancers Union-approximately 1/3rd of the U.S. workforce [approximately 42 million workers] are freelancers, i.e., working without customary benefits, such as pensions, health care, holiday pay or employer contributions to unemployment insurance programs. The dramatic decline in traditional lifetime or long-term employment in the manufacturing and white-collar sectors has forced the modern worker to adapt and consider working as a freelancer.
The lack of such benefits and loss of long-term job security are offset by the flexibility, mobility, multitasking, variety and independence freelancing offers. Unlike many office-bound employees, freelancers can often telecommute, set their own work schedules and pace, combine work with travel, pursue multiple opportunities simultaneously and avoid entanglement in office politics and corporate cultural conformity. Accordingly, for those attracted by the idea of substantial autonomy, project variety, mobility and limited commitment, freelancing can offer a very good career fit.
Freelance work involves work that a person who is self-employed can choose to do. In such arrangements, there are usually short-term or no contracts and the worker is free to work or not work as he or she deems fit, often with multiple employers simultaneously. There are no ties to any employer and there is the freedom to choose from different types of jobs. Sometimes, this is enriched by the satisfaction of being able to do different types of work or work on different projects simultaneously. It can also afford the opportunity to work at one's own pace and on a flexible daily schedule.
However, these benefits come at a price-namely, the lack of common employee benefits, such as dental coverage, health insurance, holiday pay, employer retirement and unemployment insurance contributions, and the security of long-term contracts, with short-term "work-for-hire" contracts being the norm.
The individuals in these positions may decide to use an agent to represent them. This agent then acts as a connection to clients who require work done. With many online platforms emerging, work can be done remotely as well as onsite. Moreover, Internet access means minimal constraints regarding the ability to receive and submit work.
Offsetting the lack of full-time, long-term contracted employment benefits and job security, the perks of freelance work are quite attractive. One perk is that the individuals are their own bosses and are able to manage their time in whatever manner they choose. They are also able to plan their schedules based on their specified workload. If they have less work to do, they can find time to indulge other interests or pursue other employment opportunities. When workload spikes, they can adapt their lifestyles accordingly.
In many instances finding freelance work is a bigger challenge than doing it. Various freelance job-board websites, e.g., www.elance.com, mediate employer-freelancer matchups, making the task of job-hunting easier. freelancers with repeat or consistent clientele, skills and experience in demand, strong references and solid reputations will have the edge in maintaining a stable income flow and career path, to create a lifestyle for themselves that many conventionally employed workers will envy, especially with regard to flexibility and mobility that allows working-holiday travel.
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