Freelancing or Employment? Which To Choose

So you need to make a decision, either freelancing or employment, but you don’t know what to choose. Below I’ve compared the two and put them in a handy table to help you make an informed decision.

Table Of Contents:

  1. Employee and Red Tape
  2. Freelancer and Too Much Freedom
  3. Employee vs Freelance Comparison Table
  4. Comparison Table Breakdown

Let me start off by telling you what I do, I work at a company called Assembla as a front-end designer and developer. I prefer it over freelancing because It gives me the exact work enviroment that helps my work thrive. Hopefully this article can help you to decide which you prefer, freelance or employment.

I know a lot of designers and developers. Some of them are freelancers and some of them aren’t. For some of them this industry is just a hobby and ironically they’re usually the best I’ve seen. But how are they the best? Simple, they do this for fun. A great quote from one of my many inspirations goes like this:


Chris Coyier (

That’s the answer. They just build websites, and they love it so they’re not bogged down by all the red tape of working at a company or sometimes un-helpful freedom of being a freelancer. However it’s not so great if you’re doing it for fun, yet have no money.

Employee and Red Tape

I work at a company so trust me, red tape gets in the way quite a lot. Now what do I mean by this? I mean that when you’re designing something, you’re not just designing it, you and a million others are designing it.

Sometimes even people who don’t have any business commenting want to put in their 2 cents, just becuase they can. You also have problems that arise such as designing something with complete UX, yet having to make it a little harder to use because someone a little higher up doesn’t like the way it looks. Try explaining to someone with more power that just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean that thousands of users won’t.

Remember, your users are usually different from you, otherwise they’d be your competitors. Being stuck in a set amount of hours and set amount of work is great, but it can get a little stiffling to creative types, this is where freelancing is better.

Freelancer and Too Much Freedom

Freelancing is great because it gives you the freedom to be your own boss and work exactly how you like. However this can lead to serious problems if you struggle to motivate yourself to work sometimes.

So what exactly is too much freedom? Surely being a freelancer is great right? You get to work when you want and do what you want, how you want (let’s forget about troublesome clients in this example). Well that’s exactly the problem. Too much freedom.

When you’re allowed to get up at 2pm then do a little work, go to the gym, do some more work, watch T.V. and do some more work it’s fun, but it does affect your productivity a little…then that little turns into a lot.

For some people doing the freelance route is perfect because it’s just how they work best. However if you don’t keep an eye on it, you’ll never have the money for the rent or mortgage because you’re never putting in enough hours. This is where a company is better.

How To Decide – Employee or Freelancer?

So you know a little about what to expect from each one, below i’ve listed the basic features of each work type in a nice little table. Scroll down for an explanation on each.

Employee Freelancer
Fixed Time Schedule Y
Fixed Paycheck Y
Stable Amount of Work Y
Set Amount of Work Y
Relevant Opinions Y
Work When You Like Y
Work As Much As You Like Y
Handpick Projects Y
More Credit For Work Y
More Free Time Y

Table Breakdown

Below i’ve broken down the table to go into more detail than just a few words can.

Remember that you won’t find all of these things in every company and freelance situation, they’re just general things to consider.


1.) Fixed Time Schedule

Having a fixed schedule is one of the best things you can have when you’re younger because it gives you stabillity and teaches you how to stay accountable and work even when you don’t have to.

2.) Fixed Paycheck

Most of the time you’ll be getting a fixed paycheck week-to-week or month-to-month so you don’t have to worry so much about whether or not you’ll have somewhere to live in a months time.

3.) Stable Amount of Work

Working at a company is likely to give you a lot of stable work coming in. For example, no one’s going to hire a new guy/girl if there’s no need to, so there’s going to be work from the time you start to the time you clock-off.

4.) Set Amount of Work

This is a tie-in with the previous point. As well as having a stable amount to do, you’ll likely only be given tasks to do once previous tasks are completed, which is great for stopping that overwhelming ‘got too much to do’ feeling.

5.) Relevant Opinions

If you’re working as an employee you’ll always have relevant opinions on what you’re working on since your colleagues understand what you’re working on better than one of your friends, whether they’re designers/developers or not.


1.) Work When You Like

Sometimes it’s just easier to get up at noon than it is at 7am. There are times when you need to stay up late because there’s something that needs finishing or maybe you just stayed up late playing Batman: Arkham City (yes, i’m refering to personal experience).

2.) Work As Much As You Like

So it’s Friday and you really don’t feel like working? Then don’t! Go back to bed and/or watch a movie.

3.) Handpick Projects

Being able to handpick the projects you work on is something everyone in our industry craves. Going freelance gives you that opportunity since you choose who to work with and what to work on.

4.) More Credit For Work

If you hand-code every single pixel on the company’s sparkly new site you’re probably going to get little credit, if any at all (I created the new site over at Assembla and get lots of credit all the time, so this isn’t always true). When you’re freelancing you’re the only one who can take credit. Stick it in your portfolio and show the world what you did. Credit where credit is due.

5.) More Free Time

As a freelancer you’ll most likely have more free time. You may be wondering how, well when you have a nine to five job it becomes very difficult to just get up and do the dishes or go and mow the lawn. As a freelancer you can get up to stretch your legs and get general stuff done that normally you’d have to do after work, freeing up time when the work day is over. (Again this isn’t always the case).


I’m hoping that the above information has really helped you in you’re decision to choosing the correct career path that suits you. Personally I have a hybrid of the employee and freelancer work styles. I’m lucky to work for a company and be able to work in a freelancer style with some of the benefits of each. Some people prefer the stability and some prefer the freedom. It really depends on the type of person you are.

Leave a comment with your pro’s and con’s below and i’ll include it in the table above with a short explanation.


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