Just like Marmite, freelancing tends to split opinion, between those who see it as a dream career, and those who can’t think of anything worse! Plenty of people think they have an idea of what a freelancing career is like.
However, as any freelancer will tell you, the reality is full of surprises. So, if you’re considering a career in freelancing, we wanted to bust a few of those common myths, and give you an insight into what the independent lifestyle is really like:
This has to be one of the biggest misconceptions about freelancing; that it is insecure and you’ll constantly be worrying about where the next project – and hot meal - is coming from. Lots of people imagine that you’re perpetually teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, with no ability to plan your finances more than a few weeks ahead. This, understandably, can put many people off.
Yes, it helps to have a financial buffer when you first start freelancing, as you’re unlikely to match your full-time salary right of the bat. However, do it right and you can have as much security freelancing as you would in a full-time job. Some good strategies include: diversifying your portfolio so you have a mixture of retained clients and projects; maximising online tools such as The Work Crowd to keep the projects coming in; and building up a rainy-day fund for any slow periods. Take a look at our blog on 8 simple strategies to grow your freelance business for some more tips and advice on keeping your pipeline nice and healthy.
A lot of people imagine that freelancers just work when they please, slotting in a couple of hours here and there, when they’re not meeting friends, playing tennis or generally enjoying a relaxing, laid back lifestyle. Just think of all the new hobbies you can take up with all those extra hours to spare!
Freelancing does give you more flexibility over your schedule but, the fact is, you still need to put the hours in if you want to earn a decent wage. As a freelancer, you’re more acutely aware of the value of your time in hard cash, plus there’s nobody to cover you when you’re sick or on holiday. In many cases, you can actually end up working more hours than you did before! That’s not to say it’s not worth the extra effort, but top-notch time management skills are essential, as we discuss in our piece on how to be a time management ninja.
With no meetings, office politics or colleagues to get on your nerves, many outsiders perceive freelancing as less stressful than the traditional 9 to 5. Add in the fact that you can work when you please (see above!) and freelancing seems like the perfect stress-free lifestyle!
While freelancing definitely helps you avoid some of the big workplace stresses, such as the daily commute, pointless meetings and yes, the dreaded office politics, it’s not without its tense moments. Juggling deadlines can leave you feeling frazzled, particularly with no colleagues to turn to for support. Plus, you have to find time for additional jobs, such as invoicing, chasing late payments and managing your taxes, all of which can raise the stress levels. Most freelancers enjoy the new and varied challenges involved, but it definitely helps to be prepared! There are lots of tools that will help you manage everything, for example, The Work Crowd will help you find projects, invoice and chase payments for you.
There is also the perception that freelancing is what you do when you are no longer ambitious about progressing in your career, or that it’s the choice of those who can’t hack the pace of the workplace. This misconception can lead some potential clients to think that they won’t get the best work or skills by using freelancers.
On this point, the opposite is probably true! A lot of freelancers choose to make the jump from very senior positions in agencies or in-house, as it gives them the opportunity to work really closely with their clients and provide a true 360 service, from strategy, planning through to execution. In many cases, senior professionals get promoted and then miss out on the aspects of their job that they love and have spent years perfecting. Freelancing gives them the chance to continue using these skills and doing what they love, while giving clients access to the whole package!
5. It’s lonely
If you’ve always worked as part of a team or big company, freelancing can seem like a very isolated lifestyle. Suddenly you’re out in the wilderness on your own, with nobody to talk to, ask for advice, or worry about your wellbeing. You worry that you might start to feel a bit cut off from society.
Everybody is different, with some people preferring to work on their own, or in a quiet environment, while others thriving somewhere more sociable. So, as a freelancer, it just means finding the right environment and way of working for you. There are loads of coworking spaces that will help you feel part of a community, if that’s important to you, as well as coffee shops you can work in for a different vibe. And with over 2 million freelancers across the UK, there are also plenty of Meetup and other networking groups you can join to connect with others in the same situation. Have a read of our tips on avoiding lonely freelancer syndrome, for more ideas.
Office workers rarely get to work from home, which makes them super envious of freelancers who get to do it every day. It’s true that when you’re bored of office life (which, let’s face it, happens!), working from home can seem like the solution to all your problems. But is it really?
When you first start freelancing, working from home feels like living the dream. But the novelty wears off pretty quickly! You’ll start to crave human interaction, a change of scenery, and a break from the distractions that are all around you at home. That’s why many freelancers choose to join a co-working space - like one of these - or to work from friendly coffee shops, at least for a morning or afternoon here or there. It’s definitely nice to have the option to work from home sometimes, but most freelancers avoid making a habit of it.
These are some of the most common myths that we come across, but the truth is that every freelancer has a different experience, depending on their personality and how they like to work. That’s why the most important piece of advice is that if you’re tempted by freelancing, why not give it a go?! As with anything, you really never know until you try it.
For the latest exciting projects to drive your business and lifestyle in the right direction, visit theworkcrowd.com. If you ever have any queries or questions, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at here or give us a call on 0203 828 8440.