Why Working for an Employer as a Designer can be a Good Thing

Often, designers working for design firms or other companies complain that they must work for an employer. Many of these creative professionals dreams of the day when they’ll say goodbye to the 9 to 5 gig and venture into a full-time freelance business.

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If you’re one of these designers dreaming of greener pastures, you may not realize just how beneficial working for an employer can be. Sure, the perks of freelancing full-time are undeniable, but being an employee also has its perks. Here are the top 3 reasons why working for an employer can actually be a good thing.

A Steady Paycheck

Being a full-time freelance designer can be stressful. From ensuring your client’s satisfaction to dealing with invoicing and other business-end duties, design business owners wear many hats. While you’ll also need to ensure client satisfaction when working for an employer, you can do so while receiving a steady paycheck. As long as you complete your specified duties for an employer, the paychecks will continue filling your bank account.

As a freelance designer, the pay schedule isn’t always so consistent. Rather, freelancers often deal with lulls in their schedule, which, if continued too long, can lead to an empty bank account and a reliance on savings until projects return. If you aren’t someone who deals well with inconsistency, a full-time freelance gig may not be the best option. Rather, by working for an employer, you can do the work you love while not stressing about a lack of cash.

Guaranteed Benefits Package

Another money related perk associated with working for an employer is a guaranteed benefits package. While benefits are going by the wayside with some companies, many still treat their employees well by offering such perks as 401k plans and health insurance. As a full-time freelancer, you’ll no longer have access to these employer benefits but will instead need to find them on your own. It goes without saying how astronomical individual health insurance costs can be. Additionally, while individual retirement plans such as Roth and traditional IRAs are available, setting them up and remembering to contribute to them can be time consuming.

Valuable Business Experience

If you’re a new creative professional fresh out of design school, you likely don’t have much working experience. While you may have completed an internship, that experience is much unlike what you’ll experience as a full-time professional. Your time working for an employer can provide the valuable business experience you’ll need if you decide to go full-time freelance in the future.

Most employers are much more understanding then a freelance client may be of the rookie mistakes you’ll make in your first few design years. Your time with an employer can be the perfect chance to take a few risks and make those common beginner mistakes so you can avoid them if you do ever decide to freelance.

While working for an employer can be a beneficial experience for most designers, you’ll likely reach a point when you feel you’re prepared to venture out on your own. However, a common mistake many creative professionals make is to leap into self-employment too soon only to go crawling back to an employer when the freelance gig doesn’t pan out.

To help you avoid this mistake, here are a few questions to ask yourself before making the leap:

  • Am I prepared to deal with an inconsistent paycheck?
  • Do I understand the contracting process?
  • Do I have access to a consistent client market?
  • Are my design skills developed enough to attract clients?
  • Do I understand the business duties of freelancing such as the invoicing process?
  • Can I afford individual health insurance?
  • Do I own the necessary equipment to freelance?

Full-time employees and professional freelancers each experience varying benefits. While, as an employee, you can enjoy a consistent paycheck and gain valuable business experience, as a freelancer, you’ll have increased control over your schedule and income. It’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each option to determine which is most appropriate for your personality and working style.

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