The idea of becoming a freelancer may first seem too good to be true. This is for a reason. Many parts of freelancing are exactly as awesome as they sound, but crucial aspects are either wildly exaggerated or left out entirely. Going in unprepared for the realities of freelancing could mean you’ve quit everything for a lifestyle you never wanted.
In real life, freelancing comes with its own set of pros and cons – just like any other type of job. For example, you have full freedom over your schedule, but it also requires a lot of organization. It’s the perfect lifestyle for some (myself included) but it’s not for everyone.
Today, you’ll learn three misleading freelance work myths people keep spreading. Then, I’ll show you how to avoid having your freelance career ruined by them before it ever gets off the ground. Let’s jump in!
Myth #1: You Only Need to Work a Couple of Hours Per Day
Freelancers have no bosses breathing down their neck. You are free as a bird because you set your own work hours.
Why You’ll Need to Work More Than a Couple of Hours Per Day
If you can pay your bills, save money, and have fun while working only a couple of hours per day, you are probably a unicorn. It’s not impossible to make it happen one day, but it will take a lot of time, energy, and strategy to reach that point.
As a freelancer, you’ll juggle multiple clients. This involves prioritizing work and being as efficient as possible. All this, while rustling up new contracts, handling emails, managing expectations, and more. You are a one-man army and it will take a big time investment up front to create streamlined systems.
How to Create a Realistic Schedule
Time management is a critical skill every successful freelancer must master. If you can adhere to a schedule that enable you to get all your work done and still have time for fun, you’re on the right path. Here’s how I do it:
- Try to work at the same time every day to develop a habit.
- Budget more time than you think you’ll need for client tasks to be on the safe side.
- Let your clients know from the get-go how much time you’ll need for each project and develop a policy for last-minute work.
Personally, I don’t mind last-minute work from time to time. However, it’s important you learn what your limits are and that it’s OK to say no to work when it throws off your schedule.
Myth #2: You’ll Easily Learn More Than With a Traditional Job
Top freelancers can charge high rates per hour (or word).
Why Earning Big Bucks is Harder Than Expected
Your earning potential as a freelancer is determined by your rates. However, most freelancers can’t command high rates without a portfolio that shows clients they’re good at what they do. It’s rare someone can jump right into the field and start commanding exorbitant wages. Once you’re established, pitching new clients becomes easier, and you earn the chance for referrals.
It takes time and dedication to start earning the big bucks. You’ll want to raise your rates yourself from time to time. After all, few clients will outright offer to pay you more if you don’t ask!
How to Reasonably Build Your Income
Getting to a point where you’re financially stable and thriving takes dedication. You’ll need decent budgeting skills since your income may vary from month to month. Here’s the approach I suggest for new freelancers:
- Price your work at standard rates from the get-go and don’t aim for low-paying gigs.
- Get to work on building a three-to-six month safety net using your earnings.
- Update your portfolio religiously, so it always showcases your best work.
- Raise your rates from time to time when you think it’s warranted.
I cannot emphasize enough how important a safety net is. Even the best freelancers lose clients from time to time and without a safety net, that could wreck your finances for months to come. If a client does bail, your first stop should be the Paid to Blog Jobs board, where you can get right to pitching new ones.
Myth #3: You’ll Be Free to Travel the World Anytime You Want
One of the biggest perks of freelancing is you can work from anywhere you want. Be it your couch, a fancy coffee shop, or a swanky hotel.
Why Travel Isn’t Always a Given
Planning a trip is pretty easy nowadays. As long as you have the budget for it, you can book both an Airbnb and a flight in less than an hour. The real issue with traveling as a freelancer are more about practicality.
Today, I’m packing a backpack with all the essentials for a four-day getaway. It’s not going to be all leisure since I’ve got work to do and I’m traveling to a place with spotty internet access, so I anticipate a few headaches. You see, some locations aren’t compatible with the work-travel lifestyle.
How to Make Travel Part of Your Freelance Lifestyle
It all comes down to planning. You need to be realistic about which trips will enable you to mix work with pleasure. It also requires discipline to muster up the energy to work with a sunny beach beckoning from up close. Here’s what you should consider if you want to enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle:
- Plan ahead so you’ll stay in places with decent internet access.
- Always carry the right gear with you, including portable batteries, international power adapters, and more.
- Set aside time for sightseeing and time for work without any distractions.
- Don’t bring work with you every time you travel.
Personally, I find worrying about work while I’m traveling takes a lot away from the experience. The best solution for me has been to make it a point to take actual work-free trips. As a freelancer, you should be able to do some work in advance to get a few days off if you need them, so take advantage of that!
Freelancing can be harder than you initially imagine, particularly if you want to make a career of it. However, it is a lifestyle I wouldn’t exchange for any other. If you’re responsible with your time and your finances, there’s no reason why you can’t live the dream as well.
Before we part ways, let’s recap what the most popular freelance work myths are and what the truth is:
- You’ll probably need to work more than a couple of hours per day, which isn’t that bad!
- You may not earn more than a traditional job right from the start, but the sky’s the limit as your experience grows.
- Traveling while you work is complicated, but with a little planning, it can be done.
Do you have any questions about what it’s really like to freelance for a living? Ask away in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.