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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

The Top Freelancer Motivation? Being the Boss

The Top Freelancer Motivation? Being the Boss
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

The chance to be their boss and set their own schedules are what's driving professionals to give up full-time jobs in favor of freelance work, new research finds.

A study from ReportLinker discovered that 28 percent of freelancers said not having to report to anyone else is what appeals to them most about freelance work.

Additionally, 18 percent of full-time workers said the chance to be their own boss is the main reason they would consider becoming a freelancer.

Flexible work hours is the second most popular reason freelancers like working in the gig economy and why full-time employees would consider making the switch to freelancing.

Making more money, having a better work-life balance, having skills that are more suited to that type of work, wanting more freedom and looking for more interesting challenges are the other top motivating factors driving workers to freelancing. [See Related Story: Best Billing and Invoice Software for Freelancers: Our Top Picks]

Overall, freelancers are happy working the way they do. The research revealed that 70 percent of freelancers think they are happier than their peers who have full-time jobs. Additionally, 84 percent of freelancers say they feel a sense of purpose working in the gig economy.

While nearly three quarters of the U.S. working population work full-time jobs, 12 percent of professionals have already joined the gig economy as freelancers. That number, however, is projected to grow in the coming years.

More than 30 percent of those surveyed said they would consider becoming a freelancer in the future, with half of those saying they could make the move within the next three years.

The study's authors said this suggests that there could be a quiet revolution underway.

"It may still be too early to predict the full impact of the gig economy on the future of work," the study's authors wrote. "But if professionals continue to make the leap to freelance work over the next three to five years, it’s all but certain we’ll be looking at a new labor force dynamic."

The research shows that most professionals don't start their careers freelancing. Two-thirds of the freelancers surveyed said they started out in a full-time job before switching to the gig economy.

"This might be because freelancing requires foundational skills generally picked up in the traditional workplace," the study's authors wrote. "To be successful in the gig economy, independent contractors need to be able to set their own goals, manage their own time and workload, juggle multiple priorities, promote themselves, and solve a wide range of problems on their own."

Despite the benefits of working in the gig economy, freelancers say there are some drawbacks. Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed said not having retirement benefits is what they dislike most about being a freelancer, with 20 percent saying having no access to unemployment insurance is the biggest downside.

Lack of job security, low financial security, not being highly paid and difficulty  finding funding are other drawbacks to freelance work, according to those working in the gig economy.

The study was based on surveys of 1,008 online respondents representative of the U.S. population.

For more information on how to become a professional freelancer, visit BND's guide.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.