Rebecca Parker writes about 7 myths of being a freelancer.
7 Myths of Being a Freelancer
- Freelancing will allow me to have more free time – If you’re interested in transitioning to a freelance career because you think it will allow you more free time, you may be very disappointed by the reality of freelance work. Freelancing takes a lot of time; you have to search for the work, win over the clients, organize the projects, and then, finally, create the content. In traditional work settings these roles might get split over multiple departments, but as a freelancer this will all fall to you. That said, because freelancers are in charge of their own schedules, their work and free time allocation is more flexible than those on traditional career paths.
- Freelancing is easy money – Do not mistake freelancing as the “get rich quick” path; such a path does not exist. Freelancing takes dedication and ardent work ethic. When you work for yourself you remove outside oversight. For some people, this is a difficult transition because they relied on that oversight as motivation. Furthermore, freelancing requires building connections with clients to sustain a steady stream of jobs. Often, building a good work reputation takes time and the first projects you work on may not pay well. You can find financial success as a freelancer, but that money will need to be earned through hard work.
- Freelancing is purely solo work – This is a myth that contains a kernel of truth. Yes, for most freelancers the majority of their work time will be spent alone. For some people this is the number one barrier to undertaking freelance work, for others it is the biggest draw. But before you take the plunge into solitary work, know that you still need to be able to meet with clients and communicate well with them. You will need impress prospective clients and make them feel comfortable choosing you to work on their project. Because of this, people skills are important. Being friendly, professional, and intelligent will make you valuable.
- Regular work is more secure than freelancing – Many people feel afraid to jump into freelancing full-time because they perceive a lack of security. This is an important concern and should not be dismissed, but it should also not be forgotten that in this day and age no job is ever really secure. Many people have worked in traditional roles at large and small corporations for many years only to be suddenly let go due to no fault of their own. The economy changes. A corporations’ needs change. Job security is, in itself, a myth. Recognize that, as a freelancer, at least your security is largely in your own hands.
- Anyone can freelance – Most people possess the basic fundamentals needed to start freelancing, but knowing the basics doesn’t guarantee success. To be successful as a freelancer, you need to have something to offer to the market – a specific skill that will prove valuable. When you start freelancing make sure you are as educated and prepared as possible in your specific industry or offering. If you take on a project that requires more than your skill level can attain, you are not hurting the reputation of a large, faceless corporation, you are hurting your personal reputation as a freelancer.
- Freelancing is less stressful than traditional jobs – This myth could not be further from the truth. The work of a freelancer often feels never done. Before one project is wrapped up you need to be immediately thinking about acquiring a new project. Or, ideally, you’ll be balancing multiple projects at one time. That kind of tricky time management can create a lot of stress. If you take on too much work, you will not have an assistant or colleague to help pick up the slack – the completion of each project falls to you alone. Also, as a freelancer, the home and office often become merged, so switching off from work mode might be difficult. This can lead to over-working and increased stress.
- Freelancing means always following the clients’ wishes – This doesn’t have to be true. Of course you want to please your clients and produce quality work, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your talent, creativity, or visionary eye. Often, clients chose to work with freelancers because they are looking for something a little different. Freelancers should not feel afraid to voice their opinions to clients so long as it’s done so professionally and with the projects best interest in mind.