When people find out that I am a freelance writer, I am predictably asked two follow-up questions. The first is, “What do you write?” The second is prompted by the recent recession and the still-tough financial situation many remain in: “Has this economy affected your work?” I’m actually kind of embarrassed about the answer. This is because the answer is:
Yes. This crappy economy has affected my freelancing business in a good way. I have more work than ever.
The reason is because I cost less than a full time employee for many businesses. I can draft press releases for companies, prepare presentations and do any number of needed jobs that might have been done by a full-time employee. Technology allows me to do it from the comfort of my home, without having to go into the office. Other freelancers I know have been seeing an increase in work as well, from graphic designers to web developers. Virtual assistants and other professionals that can handle work remotely have also been seeing increased opportunities from this economy.
Freelancers cost employers much less than full-time employees do. I recently read a story on CNN Money that pointed out that workers can cost businesses 25% to 30% on top of a base salary. So you may only be getting $14 an hour, but you could be costing your employer $20 an hour. This is because there are a number of “hidden” costs associated with hiring workers:
- Health insurance and other benefits.
- Job training.
- Taxes (federal and state).
- Worker’s compensation insurance.
- Paid time off.
- Facilities costs (the power, phone, etc. used at your workspace).
- Other costs, including uniforms, cell phones, etc.
During the recession, some businesses have laid off some workers — especially professionals — and replaced them with freelancers and virtual assistants. It costs less, since folks like me are independent contractors. We don’t get benefits, and we pay all of our own taxes.
While this life isn’t for everyone, and while it does require some careful budgeting because there are down months, there is something to be said about being your own boss. Especially when it has the potential to open a few more doors.