In “Back to the Future,” the classic 1985 film, there’s one simple question that really gets under the main character’s skin: “Are you chicken?” Asking Marty McFly if he’s scared, annoys the living daylight out of him. It’s an emotion most people can relate to. If someone asks you if you’re scared, you react with a crisp: ‘Heck, no!’ Even though, you might just be scared right out of your mind.

Most of us aren’t faced with the challenges of time traveling, though. Say, for instance, you’re trying to decide if you want to become a web designer as a freelancer or an employee.

For many, it seems this choice also boils down to one thing: ‘Are you chicken?’

If you’re not, of course you’ll become a freelancer. Better pay, deciding your own hours, working only on the projects that you love — it’s an easy decision. Right?

Well, I actually don’t think the biggest question has anything to do with being scared.

Both paths have their own pros and cons, which aren’t just about courage. It’s about who you are as a person, what your likes and dislikes are and whats right for your life at this moment.

So, let’s leave this notion of the courageous freelancer behind us and dive a little deeper to explore how you can make this decision.

The benefits of freelancing

Let’s start with the cowboys of web design; the lone wolves who single-handedly fight for their existence as a digital designer. Why would you, as a young web designer, ever follow their lonely path out into the unknown?


For many, this is the most important part of being a freelancer. Honestly, it’s what attracts me to this lifestyle. Deciding when and where you work … it just works for me. It’s no wonder many digital nomads choose a career in webdesign so they can work from anywhere in the world. For me, being flexible means I can just hit that snooze button one more time whenever I want to. I’m a night owl, so being able to start my day as late as I want is perfect — it enhances my creativity and the quality of my work.

Choose your own adventure

As an employee, others decide what you work on. You have little control over your next project, or even the type of projects that suit you. As a freelance web designer, you have the freedom to make your own choices. Only want to create websites for bookstores? Go for it. Want to tackle a different type of project every week? You be you. The only limit is your creativity and the projects that come your way.

Income potential

As a freelancer, your income potential is directly tied to the hours you’re available. For me, the beauty is that I’m not forced to work around the clock as a freelancer — I have time for my other passions. Others love to go full throttle all week and end up being lean, mean invoicing machines. To each their own — how much you earn as a freelancer is entirely up to you. You set your hourly rate, you decide how many hours you want to work.

Benefits of being an employed web designer

Okay, if the choice between freelancing and employment isn’t about courage, this must mean there are benefits to being an employed web designer, right? Correct. Sure, being an employee sounds a little less glamorous than the free-spirited life of a freelancer, but employees have many benefits.


Not everyone is cut out to move through life like a leaf in the wind. Some people thrive on structure and stability. Knowing what’s expected of you can provide incredible peace of mind. It allows you to structure your days, which in turn sets you free to do whatever you want outside of work. Work 24/7, like a freelancer does? Don’t think so — when you’re off work, you are off work.

Opportunities for growth

It’s easy to reach the top of a one-floor building. As a freelancer, you can never advance your professional position. However, what if you aspire to lead a team one day? In that case working for a larger organisation might be the right fit for you. Only within a company can you grown from a junior designer to, let’s say, an executive creative director. Giving up the freedom of freelancing doesn’t make you boring; it means you’re looking for a different kind of challenge.

Steady income

Ah, a steady income — yes, please. Even for freelancers, it’s no fun that some months you’re scrounging for bits and pieces of income. It’s a necessary evil. Having cash coming in consistently each month really helps you relax, as a sense of security does wonders for many people.

How to make the choice

Now that we've heard some benefits of both sides, you might wonder what the downsides are.

There aren't any.

Well, there are, but you won’t find them in this article. That’s because I believe one person’s benefits are another person’s drawbacks. If you’re reading about the beautiful stability in a life of employment, and start to feel panicky — freelancing is for you.

But what if you're still not sure which path is better for you? Let’s see what can influence your decision.

Your Personality

The most important thing to look at is your personality. Look in the mirror and be as honest as you can be. Working as a freelancer is often valued higher in our society, and you might think it’s what you want. But, what if the mere thought of having no income security makes you nauseous? It's okay to walk your own path.

Your Work Style

There are people, strange people, who want to do everything themselves.

Even at a young age, they were snatching every little school assignment from their parents' hands and angrily declare: "I can do it myself!" These people might be freelancers today. As a freelance designer, it's up to you to come up with all the solutions, workshop every problem.

If the idea of the whole world resting on your shoulders makes you anxious, and you were the kind of kid who allowed your parents to help you out a little, then maybe you'd prefer working as an employee, where you can learn a lot from your colleagues and ask for help when needed.

Choices Aren’t Chains

Deciding to become a freelancer today doesn't mean you still have to be one in five years. In fact, give yourself the opportunity to play and the freedom to make mistakes. If you start out as a freelancer with the demand that you must still be one in twenty years, it becomes a massive mountain you’ll have to climb. Starting as a freelancer and feeling successful after only a single job? That makes everything much easier.

Make the choice, forgive yourself if it's the wrong one.

Long-Term Goals

Do you have big dreams – really big, scary, impossible dreams? Great! Today is the day to start making them come true. It doesn't have to be in one big leap. In fact, that's impossible. Every goal is achieved in many, very small steps. If your big goal can only be achieved by being employed, because you want to become a senior web designer at one of the world's best design agencies, then go work for a company that can help you learn as much as possible to eventually excel in that role.

Start today on your dreams of tomorrow.

Whatever you choose, freelance or employed, make the choice because you want to. Not because someone else asks you, "Are you chicken?" That's something out of a movie.

Display — Framer Template

With this Framer template, you can showcase your design, photography, writing, or any other creative project that you've been working on in a sleek and professional way.

Framer Template - Display

Display — Framer Template

With this Framer template, you can showcase your design, photography, writing, or any other creative project that you've been working on in a sleek and professional way.

Framer Template - Display

Display — Framer Template

With this Framer template, you can showcase your design, photography, writing, or any other creative project that you've been working on in a sleek and professional way.

Framer Template - Display