Weighing the pros and cons of freelancing in the Arab world

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A lot of professionals do freelancing on the side, making some extra money and building a reputation in their field. But a lot of people do freelancing full time as well. We've all heard a story of some designer quiting her job, starting to freelance, and now she’s making more money than when she was employed at a company.

But while being a freelancer can definitely beat the constraints of a regular 9 to 5 job for some, there are several things that can be lost should you decide to take the plunge.

Bayt.com recently conducted a poll entitled “The State of the Freelance Market in the MENA Region,” to gauge perceptions of the freelance job market in the Middle East. The survey revealed that 75.2% of respondents consider freelancing to be a good option for someone working in the Middle East and North Africa.

Below, we offer the pros and cons to becoming a full-time freelancer in the Arab world based on these survey results. Check them out and let us know if you've decided to become a full-time freelancer in the comments section below.

The Pros

1. Choose when you work.

With freelancing, you get to choose when you work; you’re working for yourself, after all. Are you a morning person who wants to stop working at lunchtime? Or are you a night owl who loves to sleep in? As long as you get the work done on time, do it when you want.

2. Make more money.

If you have a lot of drive, you can often stand to make more money by freelancing. Often you can take on more clients or projects than if you were working for a company. In fact, 64% of professionals in the region would take up freelancing to earn more, while 55% say that freelancers have the potential to earn more than full-time employees. But you have to really hustle.

3. Achieve a better work-life balance.

31% of professionals in MENA say freelancing is a good option for a better work-life balance. As a freelancer you can often be more flexible in your schedule and see your family or friends more, especially if you work from home. Not only could this let you be closer to those you love, it can also give a boost to both your creativity and productivity.

4. Do what you love.

We all seek to do things we love and get paid for it. Confucius was right when he said, “If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.” Today there are many people who wake up in the morning and don’t look forward to doing a good day’s work. With freelancing, you can take on projects you are more interested in and get paid at the same time. 24% of professionals in MENA believe that freelancing would allow more focus on what they love to do.

5. Control your career path.

When you’re a freelancer, you can mold your future to a large degree. You can choose what kinds of projects to work on, when to do them, how much extra work you need, and what direction to take. 12% of professionals feel that freelancing can give them better control over their career path.

The Cons

1. Face inconsistent workflow.

At a company or firm, you’re pretty much guaranteed work. You come in and there is always something for you to do. As a freelancer on the other hand, work is never guaranteed. Based on the overall state of the market and other freelancer competition, opportunities may not always be plentiful.

2. Manage inconsistent income.

With an inconsistent flow of work comes inconsistent income. When you freelance you’ll never know exactly what you’ll get paid from month to month. This can be hard to live with for many people, especially when you have a lot of fixed monthly expenses that have to be paid regularly.

3. You have to find work on your own.

With freelancing, you don’t just spend time producing, you also need to spend time finding new clients and work. When you work for a company, the incoming work is taken care of for you. Even though you may know some people here and there, actually having them sign a contract with you isn’t all that easy. In fact, 31% of professionals in MENA said that they don’t know how or where to start to find a new client. This is why networking is the key to freelancer success.

4. It takes a lot of discipline.

Being your own boss, getting up in the morning, and meeting deadlines and benchmarks in your work can take a lot of discipline. Freelancing is for those who can self-motivate and get the job done.

5. There are no extra benefits.

The biggest bummer of all for freelancers is that you’re not getting any medical coverage, paid sick days, paid leave, retirement savings, or any other type of common employee perk that you may receive at a salaried job elsewhere.

It’s certainly hard to be a freelancer, but it can be rewarding as well. According to the Bayt.com study, the best candidates for a freelance career are self-motivated, punctual, and organized individuals who do not mind working alone. You must enjoy working from home and setting your own schedule while successfully managing to achieve a good work-life balance.

Do you think freelancing is for you? Let us know if you’re considering the switch to freelancing work and why, in the comments section below.

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