New study highlights the joy — and stress — of freelancing

If you write comics, there’s a good chance you’re also a freelancer of some sort. In fact, there’s a solid chance that you take on some freelance work no matter what you do for a living. A report released today by Upwork and the Freelancers Union says that 57.3 million Americans are freelancing today. That comes out to 36 percent of the U.S. workforce.

According to the report, by 2027, the majority of U.S. workers will freelance.

The world of freelancing offers both rewards and risks, of course. I find it rewarding to work on multiple projects at once. When one job gets boring, you jump to the next. It’s rewarding, too, to build your own career on your own terms.

On the negative side? Freelancing today, at least for me, means juggling lots of projects all at once. There are more writing opportunities out there thanks to the Internet. But the jobs that are out there pay less. These days, I have to churn out tons of copy to meet my financial goals. In August? I exceeded the money number I needed to hit. But I wrote 30 stories, some short, some long. It was a tough month, and October is turning out to be more of the same.

So it’s easy to burn out as a freelancer. There’s stress, too. You have to turn in the work to get paid. There’s no base salary coming in from freelance work. You have to constantly hunt for new assignments and new publications, too, as a freelance writer. And days off are rare. I write every weekend. It might not be a full day on Saturdays and Sundays, but I’m always up early these days, writing away before my family wakes up.

Then there are taxes and insurance. I’m fortunate in that my wife has good insurance and I don’t have to worry about this. Taxes? Those I do worry about. I pay quarterly taxes, and sometimes it’s hard to scrounge up the funds needed to pay that bill each quarter — more than $3,000 a quarter this year. And when April 15 hits? Even with quarterly taxes I might still owe money to the federal government. Refunds are a real rarity for me.

Still, I think the benefits of freelancing still outweigh the negatives. Apparently, so do many freelancers. The Upwork study found that more people are choosing to work as freelancers. In fact, 63 percent of freelancers said that they jumped into the freelance lifestyle voluntarily. That’s up 10 basis points from 2014.

Income stability remains a big concern amoung freelancers — and me! According to the Upwork study, 63 percent of full-time freelancers dip into their savings at least once a month. Only 20 percent of other workers do the same.

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