Should I Stop Freelancing and Return to a Full-Time Job?

7 questions freelancers should ask themselves

Often, freelancers reach a point where they reflect on their current career path and question if they need to make a change. Digital marketers, designers, programmers, and other freelancers find themselves asking, "Is it time to stop freelancing and return to a full-time job?"
If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, because everyone’s circumstances are different, the answer isn’t as simple as a yes or a no. Freelancing comes with rewards and challenges that differ from person to person. Some people thrive while others struggle to balance the pros and cons that come with self-employed work.
So, it’s completely normal to consider switching to a "regular" job from time to time. But, before making any impulsive decisions, ask yourself these important questions.

Are you making enough money as a freelancer?

Freelancing is a completely viable way to earn a living. Countless self-employed professionals enter Service Agreements with clients, securing sufficient income for themselves. However, this is not the case for every freelancer.
If you’re struggling from month to month, maybe you need to conduct an income and expenses assessment. To do so, you can use an online budget calculator. Go through your records from the past year and determine your average monthly income (after taxes). Then, add up your average monthly expenses, including housing, food, healthcare, and debt payments. By comparing your monthly income and expenses, you can get a clearer idea of whether freelancing provides you with the necessary income to live and save for the future.
Also, compare your yearly freelancing income to the salary of a full-time job that’s in your field and a role that you qualify for. If your freelancing income is substantially less than a permanent position, then you might want to think about making the switch. However, if you can feasibly increase your freelancing workload to make more money, perhaps independent work is worth your while.
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Do you have health benefits and insurance when self-employed?

Depending on your country, health benefits and insurance may be a determining factor for whether you want to freelance or secure a full-time job. If you live in a country with universal health care, acquiring health insurance won’t apply to you. But if you live in a country that deals mainly with private insurance, you may want to consider the health care that some employers provide to their staff.
Some companies and organizations offer employer-sponsored coverage (called group insurance) to workers and sometimes their families. These companies often split the cost of premiums with their employees. Typically, employers choose the insurance plan options for their staff, deciding what type of plan is best. If an employer offers coverage to their staff, it can be a great perk of a full-time position.
Alternatively, some individuals (including many freelancers) have to acquire personal insurance through a private provider. Private insurance can be costly and offer you poor coverage, depending on your plan and provider. So when weighing the pros and cons of freelancing, consider the advantages of an employer’s health insurance and benefits program.
However, if you have access to other insurance and benefits, such as a spouse’s employer coverage, you may not have to worry about acquiring coverage through your own full-time job. Or, you may be very content with your current personal insurance plan. Everyone’s circumstances will differ, so it’s important to assess your own insurance needs when deciding between freelancing and full-time work.

Do you value job security or the freedom of freelancing?

Despite its reputation for being unstable, freelancing can offer you plenty of job security. Today, many freelancers find stable work as digital marketers, designers, and content writers. Because of technology, you can have clients worldwide and rely on work outside of your city. Also, if one job falls through, you can pick up a new project quickly. And if you have ten different jobs on the go, losing one may not cause you any financial turmoil.
Conversely, full-time work means that you’re putting all of your income "eggs" in one basket. If your company has to make cuts, you can lose your job without having anything to fall back on. That being said, sometimes employers provide the staff that they lay off with a severance.
Some may still argue that freelance work comes with more risks than having a full-time job. Freelancing can be inconsistent and is highly reliant on your self-motivation. If you aren’t finding work, then you aren’t getting paid. Also, if you find yourself unable to work, you may not be able to rely on having sick or personal days.

Do you get enough social interaction working at home?

Full-time jobs often come with great social perks. Depending on the size and type of company or organization that you work for, you can find a great sense of belonging at work. Some people find comfort in being a part of a team, relying on their coworkers, and contributing to something greater than themselves.
Full-time positions are also a great way to expand your social circle, as you develop deeper relationships by interacting with the same people on a regular basis. It can also be fun and rewarding to be a part of a company’s office culture. Some human resources departments go above and beyond for their staff to recognize achievements and make work fun.
But, even though there are social perks of belonging to a company, keep in mind that not every company fosters a warm, welcoming environment. Also, you might be involved in non-work activities or clubs that provide you with plenty of interaction. Or, you might prefer to spend the majority of your time alone. Either way, everyone has different needs and limits when it comes to spending time alone. Examine whether or not you feel socially fulfilled to help decide between freelancing and permanent positions.

Are you growing and expanding your skillset?

If you’re considering a full-time job as an alternative to freelancing, maybe you’re in a rut. Depending on the type of work you do, freelancing can force you to take on the same kind of work over and over, offering minimal room for development in other areas. If you freelance for 40 hours (or more) per week and continually pick up the same type of work, it can be difficult to find the time to expand your skillset.
But maybe you’re a freelancer who is always pushing yourself to learn new things, despite having a busy work schedule. Maybe you are a self-starter who pursues jobs that are increasingly challenging and skill-expanding. Undeniably, freelancing teaches you how to deal with difficult clients on your own and work on tight timelines, but if you’re the right type of person, freelancing can also push you to grow in your career.
On the other hand, an employer may offer on-going training so you can continue to learn new skills. Most often, companies pay for on-site training. Beyond the skills that you develop, employers may also offer opportunities for advancement.
A question to ask yourself is, "As a freelancer, am I getting positive and negative feedback from my clients?" Usually, clients are more interested in your quality of service than your professional growth. But at a company, your employer might be invested in your growth and personal goals in addition to the work that you produce.

Do you have enough separation between work life and home life?

Many freelancers struggle to balance their personal lives with their work. Freelancing means that some weeks are going to be busy and others are slow. During the busy weeks, it’s easy (and sometimes necessary) to work longer hours and take time away from your interests and loved ones. But some freelancers really thrive with flexible schedules and strategically put in the extra hours to leave room for their personal lives.
What it really comes down to is assessing how well you manage your workload. If you struggle to complete all your freelance work within a reasonable amount of hours each day, you likely have times where you must work longer and sacrifice your personal life.
Many freelancers work from home or public places, such as coffee shops and coworking spaces. For some, working from home is the big draw to freelance work. But, today more than ever, companies are offering remote work for their employees. So, if you’re questioning your role as a freelancer but enjoy working from home, consider applying with companies that have a remote working structure. You can enjoy all the perks of working for a company (health benefits, consistent income, guidance, and training) but continue working from home.

Do you enjoy freelancing?

This question might seem too simple for such a complex issue. But answering the previous questions should give you a clear idea about the things you enjoy and dislike about freelancing. There are likely some aspects to your work that you value and others that cause you frustration. Before applying and accepting a full-time position with a company, remember that all jobs have pros and cons to them.
Whether it’s continued freelancing work or a permanent position with a company, there will always be aspects to your job that you don’t enjoy. It’s important to take the time to reflect on what you value most so you can make a decision that leaves you the most satisfied.
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