Should you leave freelance writing for a full-time job? This is a dilemma many freelance writers face, including some who have been freelancing for a long time and have had significant success.
There are many ways to approach the question, and the answer will be different depending on the individual and the specifics of the full-time job.
First the Money
You need to look at the total value of all the compensation — after taxes — you’ll receive and then compare that to what you make as a freelancer — after taxes.
Look at these aspects of the full-time job:
What’s the salary or wage? Remember that as a freelancer you must pay a 15.3% of your net income as the self-employment tax (in the United States). Your employer picks up half of this if you take the job. It’s an important consideration.
Does the company offer health benefits? How good are they, and how well do they compare to what you can get on your own through the Affordable Care Act or other options? You’ll need to look at deductibles, copays, family coverage, etc.
Is there a retirement plan, such as a 401K? How much does the company put in? Do you have to match it?
Are there other forms of compensation, such as stock options or profit sharing? These can be hard to estimate, but they can be very significant.
Does the company offer paid vacations? How many weeks per year? Does the vacation length increase over time? Approximate the value of this by taking the entire monetary compensation of all forms for a year and then dividing by 50 to get a weekly value. Multiply the weekly value times the number of vacation weeks.
Do you get sick leave? Maternity leave? Paternity leave? How significant is this likely to be?
Are there other cool things you can attach a monetary value to, like onsite child care or a free gym membership or an annual retreat in Hawaii?
Now the Other Considerations
How important is your freedom? Do you like to set your own hours, work at the coffee shop if you want, be able to take vacations at times of your choosing? Do you like to travel for extended periods, or visit other cities?
Travel is very important to me. My girlfriend and I house-sit in San Francisco about four weeks a year over the winter holidays. Neither of us could do this if we had full-time jobs. And as many of you know, I spent five weeks in Costa Rica at the beginning of 2015.
How much would you like doing the work? Want to do it full-time for months or years? Would you be happy, or would you get bored?
What’s the commute like? Would you have to drive through hellacious rush-hour traffic, or is it close by?
Will you like the work environment? Factor in everything, from having to take orders from one or more bosses to the pluses and minuses of working directly with other people.
How will it affect your loved ones? Many freelance writers have children, and they appreciate the flexibility to take care of their kids in and around work projects. And how would your husband/wife/partner/significant other feel about you taking the position?
In The End…
It’s a gut decision. You need to look rationally at all these factors and then mix that with what your emotional self tells you is the right choice.
And For Me?
My freedom is just too important. I would never say never because the right job with a cool business or a worthy nonprofit could tempt me, but I love to take off for days and weeks to travel. Also, I am a professional hiker of sorts.
Have you ever thought about leaving freelance writing for a full-time position? Or have you done it? Share your story with us in the comments.