By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
Being a freelancer comes with many appealing attributes. You can work in your casual clothes, make your own hours, customize your project options (to a point), and work from a variety of remote locations whenever you want. While the attractive benefits associated with freelancing are many, there are some drawbacks, too. Then there are some common perceptions that are totally mythical in nature.
If you’ve always wanted to go solo and enter the world of freelancing, don’t let the fears or myths hold you back from achieving your dreams. Here are 4 myths about being a full-time freelancer and why you should ignore them.
1. No financial stability
Many people shy away from spreading their wings to run their own businesses because they are afraid there won’t be any financial security. However, in many ways, freelancers command a better ability to adapt with the times because they have more control over their earning potential. For instance, marketability can be expanded by:
- Learning new skills
- Broadening existing skill sets
- Committing to ongoing self-education as trends change
- Developing multiple income streams
While it’s true there may be times of “feast or famine” in the life of a freelancer, if you’re strategic about it, you can ensure yourself a steady flow of income. While there is always a risk involved, if you think about it, there is a risk associated with any type of job. Companies downsize, others shutter their doors, or jobs become outdated and, ultimately, obsolete — so why not invest your efforts into something you love, where you can take charge?
2. Working from home is easy
One huge stereotype about freelancers is they have an easy lifestyle and don’t have to work as hard as people in “real jobs” do. But in reality, that’s all it is: a stereotype. And that’s a good reason why you should totally disregard this particular myth. Consider the following challenges freelancers face.
- Interruptions. People often feel it’s OK to call or come by, thinking the freelancer is available to chat or go to lunch at any given time. It’s harder for freelancers to get work done because of the constant interruptions that tend to occur when working from home. Solution: Set hours, make them known to others, and stick to them.
- No paid time off. It’s true that freelancers have the ability to set their own hours, but they can’t just take paid time off whenever they want. There is no “paid time off” — if they don’t work, they don’t get a paycheck. It’s easy when you can fill out a form, tell your boss you’re taking a personal day, and still earn pay for the day, but not so easy for the freelancer.
- Intense responsibility. Many freelancers not only work full-time, but they may also even put in more hours than for the typical 9-to-5 job. They’re responsible for networking, procuring new business, meeting deadlines, making sure they get paid, and figuring their self-employment taxes.
Countering these challenges, the flexibility associated with freelancing is a definite perk, as is the satisfaction of running your own business. However, achieving a healthy work-life balance is harder than you might think. That being said, if you put yourself in a business frame of mind, set goals, and establish a routine and stick to it, freelancing can lead to an incredible career choice and lifestyle.
3. No boss to report to
Freelancing doesn’t have the traditional hierarchical structure of a corporate entity, and most freelancers are indeed their own bosses. However, “freelancer” doesn’t mean “free for all.” They are still accountable to others — and, in that way, they have to juggle many “bosses” at once.
Freelancers also must establish a firm level of self-discipline and savvy if they want to succeed. In the face of all that freedom, their careers still depend on performing services for other people, which means they routinely have deadlines to meet, quantities to produce, and endless details to manage. And in businesses where they create, publicize, or sell their designs or products, freelancers must also be sure to secure the rights to that intellectual property.
While those sound like downsides, they aren’t really. Freelancers can exercise greater control over negotiations and approaches to find mutually workable solutions that satisfy themselves and clients. Additionally, they get to work with different people all the time, which can be a fun experience, along with gaining some great networking opportunities.
4. Freelancing is a lonely career choice
Freelancing is a lonely life? Mostly a myth. Depending on the nature of their work, freelancers are more than likely routinely communicating with clients, customers, project managers, suppliers, vendors (if, for example, storage space is needed for inventory or supplies, or materials need to be printed), and, at times, even other freelancers.
Many freelancers also act as contractors, which means they work within the office setting of their clients. While there can be a definite level of solitude working as a freelancer (again, depending on the nature of work), it can be as social or solitary as desired. Solopreneurs who find it to be too difficult working alone can establish themselves in a co-working situation, get active on social media, join local small business groups, or attend networking events.
Freelancing is a great way to run your own business in a way that suits you. You can design your gigs in a way that ignites your passion. And rather than be cooped up in a cubicle all day, you can set the tone of your workday, for the most part, in a location of your choosing.
Regardless of your skills or passions, if you’ve ever wanted to be a freelancer, why not make the leap? Currently, there are about 57 million Americans living the “gig economy” dream, and more are expected to join in the very near future. If you’ve always wanted to try running your own business, there’s never been a better time.
Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of www.BusinessWomanGuide.org, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.