Defining the Permalancer

I’ve heard of companies looking for permalancers here and there, and I’ve always been a bit intrigued. A permanent freelancing gig? Guaranteed work I don’t have to go chasing down? What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, most permalancing opportunities, when you read a little closer, just aren’t so appealing. Generally, these employers — and trust me, they never qualify as clients — are looking for full-time, contract employees. They aren’t really looking for freelancers.

Employers like full-time, contract employees because they’re cheaper than true employees. If an employer uses a contractor, he doesn’t have to pay any of the following:

  • Social Security
  • Employment Taxes
  • Health Insurance
  • Retirement
  • Other Benefits

But they do demand the same level of work from a contract employee as they do from a normal employee. Sometimes they demand even more. Contractors can be let go with absolutely no warning, so employers make it clear that it’s in everyone’s best interest to give their job their all.

The government periodically tries to crackdown on permalancers/contract employees, usually under the auspices of the IRS. Gotta get that Social Security money, you know. But employers keep offering these sorts of jobs and freelancers keep taking them. Admittedly, these jobs don’t necessarily pay badly, but they can make your taxes unusually screwy.

If you’re out to make your name as a freelance writer, my recommendation is to skip the never-ending permalancing gigs.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Write on the Edge

  2. Susan   •  

    I was a permalancer back when I was a video editor. It worked out because my direct boss was a friend and she didn’t want to be there anymore than I did. And because I wasn’t on staff, I could split in between the jobs we had booked. I did this for nearly 2 years.

    Eventually I got really sick of it and put all my energy into becoming a writer. This worked out well, I still had the video editing paychecks and had some clients on the side. Eventually I clawed my way into travel and lifestyle writing and stopped video editing cold turkey. I miss the story telling elements of editing, but not the grueling hours of advertising and working on national commercials.

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