Freelance work is often viewed as a form of side hustle. It’s work done alongside a day job, or potentially even while one is in school, and there’s typically a thoroughly part-time or sporadic nature to it. At the same time though, there are plenty of people who ultimately look into pursuing their freelancing work on a more full-time basis.
This can be a daunting step, and of course requires a certain degree of expertise in whatever field it is you freelance in. Nevertheless, if it’s something you’re confident in, and you find your freelance efforts more rewarding than your job, it’s an idea worth pursuing. Beyond going full time though, there are also some specific reasons to consider turning a more serious freelance pursuit into an actual business.
- An Entity Commands More Respect Than an Individual
Among our ‘6 Tips on How to Become a Successful Freelancer Online’ we remarked that some of the most important parts of the process are establishing a strong reputation and generating client feedback. As a freelancer, you essentially need to find ways of gathering proof that clients like your work, which you can in turn use to convince future, prospective clients to give you a shot. If you start a business though, you will have an easier time managing this same effort. Freelance clients often move on once a job is done. Contact typically consists of just a few emails, and once work is done and payment is settled, the relationship ends. A business entity on the other hand generally commands a little more respect by nature. As a business, you’ll improve the chances that clients take the time to leave feedback and/or reviews of your work, making it easier for you to secure more jobs.
- Official Status Appeals
Building on the idea that becoming a proper business entity has its perks, there are also cases in which being able to label yourself as a registered company will make it more likely that you secure clients. Consider for instance limited liability companies, or LLCs — some of the most common entities formed by solo entrepreneurs or advancing freelancers. An article on ZenBusiness about forming this kind of company listed those actual initials — LLC — as some of the main benefits. LLCs are valued for other perks as well, but being able to describe your company this way provides you with an air of reliability and professionalism. This will often catch clients’ eyes and make working with you more desirable than it would be if you were wholly independent. Corporations and partnerships offer similar benefits, though again, limited liability companies are a bit more common for freelancers becoming business owners.
- Autonomy is Invaluable
A few years ago, Entrepreneur ran a very interesting article written by a freelancer-turned-entrepreneur. The writer noted that after initially making the transition to running a business, he found regular work but struggled to make the income adequate based on hourly rates. The broader point was ultimately that unlike freelancing, entrepreneurism requires more than “technical knowledge of your craft.” In making this point though, the author made clear that by changing his own payment structures (from $5 to $50 per written article to $500 to $2,000 monthly contracts in his case), he could better sustain the business. This is one straightforward example, but it highlights the invaluable nature of autonomy business owners enjoy. Freelancers have to negotiate rates, pick and choose clients, and settle for compromises; entrepreneurs, within reason, set their own rates and bring in business accordingly.
- You’ll Ultimately Have Better Pay
The example just mentioned points to the conclusion that business owners can sometimes set rates higher than they would as freelancers. Even beyond specific examples though, even the most talented freelancers often feel that they’re not paid fairly. The Balance put it bluntly in a pros-and-cons style look at freelancing: pay for new freelancers is often low. And we’d add, unfortunately, that it often stays low for freelancers who do not first establish strong reputations and second, fight for better rates. Starting a business makes for more work, but there’s a strong likelihood that it ultimately results in better pay.
None of this is meant to give freelancing a bad name. It can certainly work out well for some, and particularly if you’re looking to keep at it part time, it might be the best solution. If you’re exploring the idea of turning a freelance activity into more regular work though, doing so through an official business will often work out best.