Everyone has their own idea of what freelancing is all about—from people who think I make easy money to folks urging me to get a “real job,” the list goes on and on. Although freelancing is a legitimate professional path, many people still retain many misconceptions of what the work really involves. While individuals who work in this line do so for different reasons, there are a number of common myths that still perpetuate the field, some of which I’ll be tackling below.
Myth #1: There is little work involved in freelancing.
Truth: Essentially, freelancing is a 24/7 business. For some freelancers like me, if I’m not working the whole day, I’d still have to respond to emails, look for writing inspiration, and take conference calls outside the usual office hours due to time zone difference. On top of that, getting a decent gig that pays well for the long-term can be hard to find right off the bat, so if you’re not working on a project, you have to spend half of your time bidding on jobs and at the same time manage your finances and schedule to boot. Easy, right? Heck no!
More than just the toil of job hunting, you also have to keep expanding your skills or you’re likely to get left behind. Since the field is very competitive, you’ll lose out on many opportunities if you just stick to what you know. When I started out, my skill set was very limited and I was afraid to bid on writing projects I’ve never had experience on. Overtime, whenever a client asked me if I can do something (e.g. doing SEO, writing copy), I just said yes and then Googled how to do it later. Voila, additional skill learned and more jobs for the taking as well!
Myth #2: There are lots of money to be made in freelancing.
Truth: Although freelancing pays well if you have steady work (and if you’re not underpricing), it’s not always that you’ll get consistent, billable work. Unlike in the corporate world, the nature of freelancing work is uncertain since many jobs can be shortened out of the blue or canceled regardless of the contract terms.
What you make in freelancing actually depends on what your field is and how sought after your skills are. It stands to reason that most freelancers with technical skills such as web design and programming charge more, than say, virtual assistants. Additionally, even if you’re charging your own rate or project fee, not all clients will respect that. Some will lowball, negotiate, or even argue with you, and it all depends on you whether you stand your ground or acquiesce to their price haggling.
Myth #3: There is no money to be made in freelancing.
Truth: On the opposite side of the spectrum, some people think that freelancing entails a never-ending struggle to find work which translates to a hand-to-mouth income with a savings account that give debt-ridden peeps a run for their money (if you manage to save anything, that is). Although this could be true for some, it can be indeed difficult especially if you’re just starting out, given that this line of work is not as guaranteed or as secure as a 9 to 5 job. Depending on the quality of your work or the market you’re in, what you’re bound to make varies and not all freelancers go by with nary a penny.
Just like in any other workplace, quality work is still what will set you apart from competition. If your plan is to seek employment in the freelance field, or any other industry for that matter, delivering standout work is still what will get you ahead. As long as you do good work and you proactively seek out jobs then you stand to earn something, one way or another.
Myth #4: Freelancers will work for dirt-cheap rates.
Truth: Anytime you browse through jobs posted at oDesk or Freelancer, you’ll see an abundance of projects priced at unbelievably rock-bottom fees. At first, I found it doubtful that anyone would apply in this kind of jobs, but what have you, there are indeed a number of freelancers pandering to these penny-pinchers, I mean, clients. However, most freelancers today are bonafide professionals with worthwhile skill sets and experience—we know our value and won’t settle for anything less. Some might meet clients halfway if there’s an enough compelling reason, but a lot of us are rarely the desperate kind so it’s not in our vocabulary to work next to nothing.
Myth #5: Freelancing is not a “real job.”
Truth: This one’s pretty grating for me, but since this post is all about exposing the truth, I don’t plan on sugarcoating things. When you tell people that you are a freelancer, a lot of people assume that those in freelance work have it easy, after all, they get to choose their own working hours and relax as they see fit with no one to answer to. This is not entirely true, of course. If you go into freelancing with a mindset of taking it easy anytime you want, you’d be hard pressed to earn anything. That’s why it can be really frustrating when my parents think I’m the go-to errand girl since I’m just basically at home. Uh, this is still legit work, you guys.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, each freelancer is different and there will definitely be some exceptions to the said myths. Despite these misconceptions, more and more people are now getting better informed about freelancing due to the growing community support and resources available to those who want to take the plunge. If you’re one of those people, reading this article is already a step ahead and all you need to do now is snag your first freelance contract. If you’ve already made the leap, kudos and more power to you fellow freelancer!
Written by Jeanne San Pascual, a multidisciplinary freelance writer with a passion for the unusual. Jeanne asserts that her scope of interest is vast, but her foremost desire is still to achieve superhuman-worthy expertise in the realm of words and linguistic exchange. At her leisure time (which could be rare), she writes about her point of views in The Lifelong Loner.
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