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Freelance vs. Full-Time: How to Decide Which Is Best for You When you're deciding between full-time employment and freelancing, there are some key questions you should ask yourself in order to make the best decision for your career goals and lifestyle preferences.

By Lesley Pyle Edited by Kara McIntyre

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are plenty of reasons why you might choose to freelance instead of taking a full-time job in your industry, whether it's to work remotely, do something more creative or otherwise gain freedom or flexibility over your work life. It can also be helpful in terms of keeping your options open and trying out new industries without making the commitment of working at the same place full-time.

When you're deciding between full-time employment and freelancing, there are some key questions you should ask yourself in order to make the best decision for your career goals and lifestyle preferences.

Related: Entrepreneurship vs. Freelancing: What's the Difference?

Pros and cons of freelancing

There are a lot of pros to freelancing:

  1. You can be your own boss and set your own hours.
  2. You can work from anywhere in the world.
  3. Freelancing can be a great way to control your salary.
  4. You have the freedom to pick up new skills and try new things you may not otherwise have been able to do if you were working in an office.
  5. The option of finding a different job is always there should you get tired of one particular project or client that you're working with.

Cons include:

  1. It can be hard to get started as a freelancer without an already established network.
  2. You are in charge of your own schedule and growth — no one is going to push you to learn new skills, and sometimes clients will not offer feedback, which means that it is up to you to seek out ways to improve.
  3. Taxes can be complicated and expensive because they need to account for both income and expenses separately so that it's not taken away from the tax return when self-employed.

Related: The Business of Freelance: An Increasingly Popular and Very Viable Career Choice

Pros and cons of working full-time

The cons listed above become pros when working in an office: There is already a network ready for you to jump into, yearly reviews will provide feedback and some companies offer training to improve your skills and you do not have to worry about filing taxes as a business. Plus, companies offer benefits, they have set schedules and you work as part of a close-knit team. But, what are the cons?

Office life means strict schedules and hours you must adhere to, and you are assigned projects — whether you like them or not. You have set vacation time, and with some companies, you are locked into staying in the office rather than taking your work with you; you do not have as much freedom to choose what you want to work on or where, but for some that need structure and find it difficult to motivate themselves, this can be a great option.

Questions to help you decide

Freelancing and working as a full-time employee both have lots of great benefits (and, of course, have their drawbacks), so deciding between the two can be difficult. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to determine which is best for you:

  • Do you like having a set schedule?
  • Do you like working with a team of people?
  • Do you want to be your own boss?
  • Do you want more control over your work-life balance?
  • Do you prefer the stability of a full-time job?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice some benefits (health insurance, paid vacation, etc.) for the freedom of freelancing?
  • Can you handle the instability of freelance work (Not knowing when your next project will come in, etc.)?

One big thing to remember as you ask yourself these questions: freelancers do not receive any type of healthcare coverage through their employers, but they can purchase individual health insurance plans that provide similar coverage that most companies offer.

Related: What I've Learned in 20 Years of Being an Entrepreneur

Tips for successful work-life balance

No matter which path you choose, it's important to make sure it is the best for your lifestyle so that you can maintain a healthy work-life balance. Don't forget to establish boundaries such as not answering emails after "quitting time." Give yourself time to live.

Work isn't everything, and you should have time to do things you enjoy, so make sure you plan around those in your schedule. Talk over your options with your family, because at the end of the day you want to spend time with them while fully present.

Think about where you want to be in the future as well: Which path gets you to your dream life? For example, if you've always wanted to open up your own company, then freelancing may be right for you. If stability and benefits are what you're looking for then being full-time might be more desirable. Or maybe there's something in between; find out what will work best for you by considering what matters most to you now and into the future.

Business Strategies, Entrepreneurial Advice & Inspiring Stories are all in one place. Explore the Entrepreneur Bookstore.

Lesley Pyle

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder & CEO of HireMyMom.com

Lesley Pyle began her work-at-home career in 1996 with the launch of her first website "Home-Based Working Moms." She has continued her passion of helping moms and small businesses for over 25 years now. Pyle was named one of “50 Women Entrepreneurs Who Inspire Us” by Self-Made magazine.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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