Art Business

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Employed

June 17, 2021


I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!


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Are you thinking about becoming self-employed? In recent years, and maybe even since the pandemic, it seems like being self-employed is becoming more and more enticing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 9.651 million self-employed people in the U.S. (April 2021). This is about 30% of the total U.S. population.

Is self-employment right for you? Here are some pros and cons based on my personal experience. If you’d like to read more about how I got started, head to this post here.

PRO: You make your own schedule when you’re working for yourself.

One of my favorite parts about working for myself is the flexibility it allows in my schedule. In my business, sometimes that schedule is guided by a client’s timeline. But most of the time, my projects and product releases are set according to a schedule that works for me and is defined well in advance.

So if I want to take that vacation in October, or take a day off here and there spontaneously, I can! I also found that I spend much more time with my partner, pets, and family by working from home. I like to schedule around my personal events first, and have my business tasks work around those, instead of the other way around.

But with that freedom, comes responsibility! On any given day, there is work that could be done. And if you find yourself procrastinating too much, you have to reel yourself back in.

CON: There is no one holding you accountable (like a boss would).

I truly believe that to a certain extent, self-discipline can be learned. So if you’re reading this thinking, “I can never run a business because I’m not self-disciplined enough!” – I beg to differ!

Over time, I believe you will learn what it takes to get your tasks done. If you want to work for yourself, there is simply no other choice.

There are ways that you can hold yourself accountable, and for me, the best way to do that is through community or another person that you hire.

For example, joining a mastermind, course, or membership community OR setting up a free small group of like-minded business friends is a great way to support each other’s goals and share progress.

I also have found that the more I have been able to outsource parts of my business by hiring other people (like a web designer for example), the more I am able to be pushed to get things done. I can get them done by myself for the most part, but having that other person helps it happen much more quickly and efficiently.

PRO: You can earn more than you would with a “regular job” salary.

This is such an exciting part about running your own business. Of course being self-employed is absolutely fulfilling in ways that aren’t just financial, but I love the possibilities that open up when you are on your own.

Your income isn’t limited by that raise you hope to get one day, or by whatever the person you are working for chooses to pay you. You get to be in charge of your own destiny.

I’m not saying it’s easy as pie to match or exceed any previous salaries – and you have to consider your expenses – but the pro here is that possibility.

CON: Say goodbye to benefits.

Paid vacation, health insurance, a 401k match are all benefits you generally lose when you leave that salaried-job.

However, there are resources out there that can help you secure health insurance and other benefits. And with the Affordable Care Act in the U.S., being self-employed becomes much more accessible if you are in certain lower-income brackets. When I first left my day job, getting that ACA tax credit on my health insurance premiums actually was pretty key and made leaving my job possible.

And say your income increases and your business grows, you won’t need that extra help and can start affording these benefits through your own business revenue. Who knows, maybe you’ll be hiring your own employees and providing these benefits to them one day?!

PRO: Being self-employed is exciting and fulfilling.

This sounds pretty general, but for me, it’s true. Since starting my business, I feel like I am building a life that is truly mine. A world where I can fully flex my creativity, and my skills are valued.

I enjoy a challenge, and being self-employed keeps my days interesting, fun, and expansive. I love the freedom that my business creates in my life.

CON: It can get lonely.

If you’re used to being social in an office space and working with a team, it can feel pretty lonely when you’re suddenly by yourself at the computer.

That’s why it’s really important to build that sense of community like I mentioned before. You can also change up your routine by working in a coffee shop, at a co-working space, or gathering a group of local business owners together. You can even join local organizations for the self-employed to network and interact with them.

So, are you considering self-employment?

If you’re considering self-employment, drop a comment below with what you are most excited or nervous about. And if you’re already self-employed, what is your favorite part about it?

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  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks for writing this. I am starting my art business and I really miss working with others and having that connection. I have joined a couple of online communities, but if feels so impersonal. Having a local group may be what I need to have some actual face time with others.

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