Freelancing Gives You Incredible Freedom—But Has a Big Tradeoff

Planning for the future can get complicated.

The standard 9-to-5 job can be a drag. You show up at the office every day, only get to work on projects that your boss okays, and often get just a sliver of the credit—or the profits—that come from a successful initiative or idea.

Working as a freelancer changes all that. You can charge what you think you are worth and get to pocket 100 percent of what you earn. If you're successful, you can raise your rates and make even more money, all while pursuing passion projects on the side—even if they don't bring in any money.

The downside to freelancing is economic uncertainty. You never know when your next gig will come through and may endure long periods with little to no income at all. That's why it's especially important for self-employed workers to set money aside during the flush months for emergencies, create a special account for longer-term goals like making a down payment on a home, and open an individual retirement account (IRA) to help pad their retirement income.

Emanuel Hahn, a photographer in Brooklyn, has experienced the highs and lows of freelance life firsthand. "It's an extremely volatile business," he says in the second episode of Real State, where he talks about why he left a safe corporate job and what his dreams are for the future.