Becoming a freelancer sounds exciting: you plan your own hours, can conduct your work from either Starbucks or the beach, and get to say “no” to clients who rub you the wrong way. But there are some myths associated with freelancing that simply aren’t true, and lead to new freelancers quickly becoming disillusioned.
Myth 1: “There’s No Boss to Order me around because I’m My Own Boss”
While this may be true on a highly technical level, freelancers still have to answer to other people—their clients. And if their clients aren’t satisfied with their work, they’ll just take it—and their money—elsewhere instead of pulling you aside for an improvement chat.
Myth 2: “I’m Going to Get So Rich, So Fast”
One of the commonly held misconceptions surrounding freelancers is one day, they suddenly quit their day jobs and move into the six-figure income realm right away. And while that may true in a small handful of cases, getting rich is more often than not the product of putting in months or years of 12+ hour days to establish a core of trusted, well-paying clients.
Myth 3: “I Can Wake up Whenever I Want and Work in Pyjamas”
Yes, you can, but you’ll have to be on some sort of schedule to do work. Freelancing is about as far removed from 4-hour work days and constant Breaking Bad reruns as you can get, and the chance of getting clients who never feel the need for regular communication is pretty rare. And if you want to sleep in until noon every day and do your work in the late hours of night, consider finding clients overseas who operate on a schedule similar to yours. Plus, showering and getting dressed leads to an increased feeling of professionalism.
Myth 4: “My Workload Will be Lighter”
The opposite is true: at a day job, there are differently-skilled people in various departments to take care of everything that’s not your job so you can leave it all behind at the end of the day. As a freelancer, you’ll be in charge of (your own) website design, marketing, accounting, payroll, job assignments and completion, and tax information. Plus, you don’t get paid for wearing different hats, but you do have to be good at them.
Myth 5: “I’ll Get to Work on Exactly What I’m Interested In”
Unless there’s suddenly a huge demand for, say, photographing kittens in Christmas sweaters, be prepared to expand your skill set into photography in general. Your clients have their needs to be met, and the more you can meet them, the more valuable a freelancer you’ll become.
Myth 6: “I Can Tell Clients to Shove Off”
To an extent, you can say whatever you want to clients if you don’t like how they speak or act. But if you want to be paid, or paid handsomely enough that you can afford vacations and a pension plan, then you have to make do with a little sucking up. To avoid getting into sticky situations with clients, make sure you’re working with a signed contract, and be upfront about expectations and responsibilities on both sides by regularly revisiting the conversation.
Myth 7: “I’ll be More Efficient and Productive than My Day Job Counterparts”
The great thing about a day job is you get paid for the time you spend there, and then the work stops and you go home. Even if you’ve got Bill Gates as a freelancing client, you should still be prepared to work weekends, evenings and holidays, and produce content when the client needs it, not when you feel like it. There’s a certain amount of flexibility that goes along with freelancing, but there’s also more unpaid work than in a day job, too.
Being a freelancer can be a fun and rewarding career, but it also comes with challenges that many people might not be aware of. Before considering freelancing, make sure you read this post first for an accurate idea of what’s involved.