It’s been a while since my last post, and I feel somewhat guilty about that. Life and laziness tend to get in the way—especially during the holidays—but I’m back with a newfound commitment to writing one new post per month. Help hold me accountable! Tweet mean things at me! (Don’t really. I’ll cry.)
To kick off 2019, I figured I would dispel some common myths about freelancing. Whether you’re thinking about a career as a freelance writer, designer, programmer, or anything else, you’ll probably hear some of these widely held beliefs about the freelance lifestyle.
Some of the statements below are downright false, while others have a hint of truth to them. Either way, let me tell you what it’s really like to be a full-time freelancer.
Myth: It’s Always Going to Be Feast or Famine
I’m not sure if this myth is as wide-spread in other industries, but in the freelance writing world, there’s a lot of talk about “feast or famine.” Basically, the idea is you’re either going to have too much work or no work at all, and this simply isn’t true.
I’m in my third year of full-time freelancing, and I’ve never once had a month of “famine.” My income is actually shockingly stable from month-to-month, and yours can be too! The secret (which is not really a secret at all) is having anchor clients.
A lot of freelancers try to make a living pitching one-off stories, but you need a few stable, recurring gigs, as well. I typically have two or three anchor clients that I know will give me a set amount of work every month, so at the very least, my bills are covered. That’s all it takes to escape the dreaded “feast or famine” cycle.
Myth: “If You Love What You Do, You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life”
Anyone who tells you this is a big ol’ liar. Work is work. I firmly believe there is no job in the world that is enjoyable 100% of the time.
Yes, I love writing, and yes, it’s great I get to write about things I’m interested in. However, I also write about a lot of boring stuff I’m not interested in at all. I also have to do billing, budgeting and tax stuff. Sometimes I have to interview rude people and deal with jabs about not “having a real job.” It’s not all sunshine and butterflies.
At the end of the day, work you enjoy doing is still work.
The lesson here? At the end of the day, work you enjoy doing is still work.
Myth: Making Your Own Schedule Is The Dream
This is one of those myths that’s kind of true, but most people don’t see the whole picture. I’ll explain it using my own schedule as an example.
As a freelance writer, I typically have several articles/projects due every week, each with a set due date. It doesn’t matter when I write them, as long as they’re done on time. This works out especially well for me because my boyfriend has a weird schedule with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. I generally structure my week around his, taking a day off mid-week so we can spend time together. It’s great that I can do that, and we both realize how lucky we are.
However, I still have work that needs to be done, and those due dates don’t change just because I decided to take a day off. Every day I take off has to be made up at some point. So as a result of playing hooky on a Wednesday, I typically end up working on Sunday. It’s not really fun sitting at my computer while all of my friends are out at brunch, but it’s a sacrifice I have to make if I want to meet my deadlines.
Then there’s the whole issue of vacation. Yes, I can take long-ass vacations if I want. Here’s the thing, though: If I’m not working, I’m not making money. It’s not like at a company, where you get paid time off. As a freelancer, time off is unpaid. So if you take a two-week vacation, you’re not making money for two weeks—obviously not ideal.
Myth: Working From Home Is Amazing
Again, partially true. There are some aspects of working from home that are quite amazing. For instance:
- No commuting.
- Working in your pajamas.
- Getting out of bed 10 minutes before you have to start working.
- Cuddling with your pets all day.
- No one judges your weird work habits.
- Endless snacking.
However, working from home can also be really lonely and isolating, especially if you live alone. I never realized how much I socialized at work until it’s was just me and my cat in my apartment.
To combat the loneliness, you have to make a point to get out, see people and do things, which can seem like a lot of effort when you just worked all day. However, if you don’t, you’ll go stir crazy and want to pull your hair out. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Myth: Freelance Writing Is Easy Money
If you’ve ever asked me for tips on freelancing because “you want to make some easy money on the side,” know that I probably cussed you out in my head.
I have no problem lending advice to people, but it’s pretty obnoxious when someone insinuates your job is a cake walk and an “easy way to make money.” Go try it. Let me know how much money you make your first month—if any.
As a freelancer, you’re in charge of finding clients, negotiating rates, managing your time, meeting deadlines, completing revisions, invoicing, keeping track of taxes, marketing, networking, and more. There’s no one there to help you, and it’s honestly a huge undertaking. Is it doable? Totally. Is it easy? No way.