Being a freelancer is great, there are lots of things I love about it. But I always recommend that anyone considering becoming a freelance Web designer think about the facts of the job. Just like being a corporate Web designer, there are good things and bad things. Make sure that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages before you jump in.
Advantages to Being a Freelance Web Designer
Work when you want to.
This is probably one of the most popular reasons for becoming a freelancer. If you're a night-owl, working 9-5 can be challenging. But as a freelancer you can work whenever you feel like it. This is perfect for work-at-home-moms and dads who need to arrange their work around the schedule of a child. It also means that you can work for people in other time zones or work at home after you've returned from your day job.
The thing to remember is that most companies still run their business between 9 and 5. And if they hire you, they will want you to be available for calls or meetings during business hours. They aren't going to be sympathetic if you went to sleep at 7am after working all night if they need you to be in a design meeting at 9am.
Work from home or where ever you want.
Many freelancers work at home, in fact I would venture to say that most do. But it's possible to work from a local coffee shop or the public library. In fact, anywhere you can get Internet access could become your office. If you do have to meet with someone face-to-face, you can meet them at their office or the local coffeeshop if your house isn't professional enough.
Be your own boss.
As a freelancer you will most likely work in a company of one person, yourself. So you won't have to worry about micromanagers or unreasonable expectations from your boss. In some ways, your clients are your boss, and they can be unreasonable and demanding, but that leads to the next advantage.
Choose the projects you want to do.
Not just projects, but people and companies as well. If you have trouble working with someone or a company asks you to do something you feel is unethical, you don't have to take the job. Heck, you can refuse to do a job just because it seems boring, if you want to.
Learn as you go, and learn what you want.
As a freelancer, you can continue to learn new things with ease. If you decide you want to get fluent in PHP, you don't have to get permission from a boss to put PHP scripts on the server or take a class. You can just do it. In fact, the best freelancers are learning all the time.
No dress code.
If you want to wear your pajamas all day, no one will care. I never wear shoes and fancy dress means putting on a flannel shirt over my t-shirt. You should still have one or two business outfits for presentations and client meetings, but you won't need nearly as many as you would if you worked in an office.
Work on a wide variety of projects, not just one site.
When I worked as a corporate Web designer one of my biggest problems was getting bored with the site. As a freelancer, you can work on new projects all the time.
You can incorporate your hobby into your work.
One way you can differentiate yourself as a Web designer is to focus on a niche area. If that area also happens to be a hobby of yours, this gives you some extra credibility.
Write off your expenses.
As a freelancer, depending upon how you file your taxes, you can write off your expenses, like your computer, your office furniture, and any software you buy to do your job. Check with your tax specialist for specifics.