While people like to focus on the downsides of being a consultant, which there are many of, the upsides are far too high to really complain about anything else. First, the freedom to have maximum control over your level of income is huge, as you are directly incentivized to work harder and deliver more value for your clients. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough, as with a salary there is no upside to working harder than usual, just some arbitrary bonus.
The second benefit is the flexibility to ratchet hours up and down. At times one feels stretched or overworked, causing them to burn out and stop taking new clients, or find a graceful exit from their current crop. Other times one wants to do but work, so they find as much of it as they can. If you’re planning a trip in six months you can have a target income in mind and work accordingly.
The third benefit is reducing the chance that you are underpaid, since the market is valuing you every time you win a new client. With a salary you are only valued once a year, if that. In the meantime that can mean a lot of foregone income. Plus, you always have the option to increase rates and see whether the market absorbs this increase or not. If not, you simply reduce them.
Independence from the multitude of rules and bureaucracy found in the workplace is another benefit. While these have become a fact of life for many, this normalization of wasting time cannot be good for productivity. One can adhere to the methods that make them most productive, not, on whole, the average. Only certain types of work are enjoyable, but consultants are able to pick and choose what to take on and what to outsource.
Yet another benefit is the nature of accountability. You, and only you, can be held accountable for potential failures, instead of some faceless corporation or the evil bossman. The lack of routine and structure is yet another advantage posing as a disadvantage, allowing you to be extremely flexible on a day to day basis.
There are a few, real drawbacks, including the lack of marketing and administration, inadequate technical support, and isolation from colleagues. However these are small details when compared to the big picture wins that independence allows. As always, trade offs need to be made, and they are more than worth it in this case.