One of the reasons I became a freelancer was because I heard about the flexibility that came with freelancing. I heard that you could work at your leisure, you could decide to work today and sleep throughout the next day.
Another reason I became a freelancer was that idea of being your own boss.
“So you mean I don’t have to answer to anyone? So you mean I don’t have to work when I don’t feel like it? So you mean I can stay at home, work with whoever I want and still get paid while doing the kind of work I love? Wow! That is the dream life! This is the life I want! I’m going for it.”
These were the thoughts that crossed my mind when I decided to venture into freelancing.
So, what have you heard about freelancing? What myths and misconceptions have you held on to?
I will be debunking some of these myths in this article.
As someone who has been freelancing on the side for almost 2 years, and someone who became a full-time freelancer last year December, I have realised that a lot of things I heard about freelancing had been myths and some of them are not the realities of most freelancers.
So, let’s get into them.
7 Myths of Freelancing and their Realities
Here are 7 myths of freelancing and their realities:
Freelancing means you always have free time
Myth: As a freelancer, you don’t have to work like others. You can work whenever you like and still be successful.
Reality: Em! Are you sure?
From personal experience, I have come to realize that it is possible for freelancers to have no free time at all, especially if they are not productive and they lack time management.
You can sit in a place throughout the whole day without realizing how much time has gone.
Freelancers have less free time than other people because most freelancers don’t set a time for their work.
They just keep working until they realize how much time has passed.
Tip: Ensure you plan your time. One thing that has helped me as a freelance writer is that I calculate how many words I can write in an hour, and then I plan to write for 3/4 hours by setting a timer with my Toogl app.
When it’s time, the timer rings and I move to the next thing on my ToDo list for the day.
You might not have as much free time as you want but you can create your own free time.
You should also check out my post on how to be productive and have a balanced work-life as a freelancer and entrepreneur.
Freelancing means you don’t answer to anyone
Myth: You are your own boss. You answer only to yourself. Nobody can tell you want to do.
Reality: While it’s not as serious as having an employer, you actually do answer to others. This time, not one person but a lot of people.
As a business person (because freelancing is a business), customer satisfaction is important.
So, you should listen and understand what your customer wants (in this case, your client) and ensure you satisfy them so much (not at the expense of yourself) that they want to work with you again and for a long term.
Tip: The interesting thing about freelancing is that you get to choose who to answer to. Even though you do have to answer to someone, it will be by choice. So, choose the right client and answer to the right people.
Freelancing is not as secure as a 9-5 job
Myth: A 9-5 job has less risk. You have a stipulated time you get paid. You sign a contract with your employer and so on.
Reality: Well, you might not be wrong about some of these things, but there are also some things you don’t know.
Some 9-5 jobs have unstable salary pay-days. I have once worked at a job where we didn’t know when they would pay. The employer told us they pay from 26-30 of the month i.e any day from that time, but there were times when they didn’t pay us till the beginning of the next month.
For freelancers, you can take charge of your payment by always ensuring you send a contract to your client. This contract is legally binding and protects you from clients who are nonchalant about paying.
For me, I make sure I receive half or more payment upfront before I start working. I also collect late fees from clients who do not pay at the stipulated time.
Another reason freelancing is more secure than a 9-5 job is that your employer can fire you at any time. I once worked at a place where I had a 6-month contract and yet my employer told me to leave on the 5th month.
But as a freelancer, even if a client says they’re not working again, you can get another client to work with or you can rely on the other client/clients you’re already working with till you get a new one.
You can also check out for new freelance job opportunities on this post.
You can’t earn a lot of money as a freelancer
Myth: You can’t make sustainable income as a freelancer. No matter how much you work, you can only earn a little money.
Reality: This is not true because while I was still doing freelancing as a side hustle, I made more money in a month doing freelance jobs than I was making monthly with my current employer at the time.
This money was what I had with me when I went full-time freelancing.
You can make more money as a freelancer but this might not be the case when you’re just starting out.
Like every business, you must create awareness about what you do. Be consistent at it. Then, after a while (possibly a year), you can start making even more money.
And if you save and invest enough, you can live the life of your dreams while freelancing.
Tip: Check out my post on how to earn more money as a freelancer to get tips on what to do.
Freelancing means you get to do what you love
Myth: As a freelancer, you get to do the kind of jobs you love doing. You only accept jobs you’re comfortable doing.
Reality: To an extent, this is true but not for people who are just starting out as a freelancer.
In the first year of freelancing, in order to gain more experience and also work with more people to make more money, you will have to take on so many types of jobs and work with several kinds of people.
Be prepared to work with diverse clients too.
Clients who will make you feel like you did a bad job. Clients who will pay you well. Those who will run away with your money.
Clients who won’t appreciate your work and clients who will worship your skills like a god.
So, in order to do what you love, you have to do a bunch of other things you don’t love at first.
It could even be a way to discover the kind of work you love to do and the kind of jobs you will never do again.
You will also discover the clients you will love to work with and also know the signs of a bad client.
For me, I have always loved writing and editing online content. It’s shorter and less tasky.
But I have learnt to take on book ghostwriting and editing, academic writing, scholarship and study abroad writing and so on.
They are extremely strenuous but in order to have something to do at times, I take on these jobs.
And gradually, after doing them, I discover the kind of work I want to keep doing and the ones I will never do again.
Tip: Be disciplined when it comes to choosing what work to do. The money might be enticing, but can you do the job well? Do you have the skills needed for the job?
Don’t lose your work reputation just because you want to make more money.
Choose the kind of job you know you can handle and also let the client know if you can meet a deadline or if you can’t do a job.
It’s okay to say “No, I can’t take on this job right now.” It’s better than doing a bad job or missing a deadline, losing a client and smearing your reputation.
Freelancing deprives you of social interaction
Myth: As a freelancer, you won’t get to meet other people. You’re always cooked up in your home, working and working.
Reality: Going full-time freelancing, one thing I miss sometimes as an ambivert (extrovert and introvert) is social interaction.
I can do without it most days but there are some days I really want to meet new people, talk to people, and be spoken to.
So, what I have learned to do is go out when I’m invited to a place and try to enjoy my time there because I know I might not get that opportunity again for a while.
It is possible to have social interaction as a freelancer.
Try coworking spaces in your area or try working at a cafe.
Recently, I went to work at a cafe and it was a wonderful moment for me. I was happy I went out and I plan to do it more often.
I met people. I worked freely and I got to dress up.
So, I got to combine social interaction with work and also play dress up.
Which is something you can do once in a while.
You can also join freelance communities.
I am currently working on establishing one with my friend.
You can also join communities like Peak Freelance, they hold virtual social meetings for their members monthly or so, to enable everyone have social interaction.
Freelancing means doing less work for more pay
Myth: As a freelancer, you can decide not to work for days and you will still get paid.
You can also charge a lot of money for very little work.
Reality: “I’m sorry. What part of the world are you from?” Lol
As a freelancer, you will work.
I even believe if you work a 9-5, you can do less work for more pay.
I have worked at a place where sometimes I will have a lot of free time throughout the month and still get paid my full salary at the end of the month.
I can’t say so for other employers because I have also worked in a place where the employer was so petty they would write down how many content I had written in a month and cut my salary if I wrote less, but they would ignore their ‘writeup’ if I did more work that month and pay me my salary (I have gone through a lot in the 9-5 world. I made the right decision to be a freelancer).
Freelancing means you’re in charge of your income. That means, if you work, you get paid.
If you don’t work, you won’t get paid.
Freelance work is a fragile one and it requires a high level of discipline, hard work, and consistency.
If you want to earn more money as a freelancer, you must be ready to put in the work, especially in the first year of being a freelancer.
With time you can start increasing your rate, but you must have been in the game for a while and also have the right expertise and skills to convince a client to pay you more.
Tip: If you want to charge more money for little work, go for high income skills. See more on How to earn more money as a freelancer.
Being a freelancer is a great decision to make for your career and business but it also requires a lot of work.
Becoming a freelancer is not a walk in the park or a way out for lazy people.
Being a freelancer requires knowledge of business strategy, constant self-development, taking up a lot of roles at once for your business, and always showing up.
You can check more about how to become a freelancer here.
If you are contemplating on becoming a freelancer, think no further, START NOW.
Hi, I’m Sarah. I am a writer and productivity coach. I am passionate about productive living and helping creative people realize and maximize their potential. I share my life-changing and actionable productivity and planning tips on this blog and I design planners, templates, and arts for my digital shop.