Busted! 10 Common Freelancing Myths

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brokenThere are a lot of misconceptions about freelancing, hiring a freelancer and what the life of a freelancer is really like. Here are some of the common myths and a look at the reality of each one.

Myth: It’s not possible to make a good living by freelancing.

This myth goes along with those that say business owners can never break even and that it’s not realistic to be in a position to save money when you work for yourself. Of course, you can make a living freelancing and working on your own – people do it every day. Just like any other endeavor, it takes hard work, experience, skill, research and planning, but it is a very feasible and realistic way of earning an income.

Myth: Freelancers only freelance because they can’t get a real job.

While some freelancers get started after being laid off or leaving a full-time job, the fact that they freelance by no means says that they are unemployable. Most freelancers I know do so because it’s their choice.

Myth: A freelancer needs business so badly that they are willing to negotiate their rates.

From time-to-time, every entrepreneur may face difficult financial times and consider revamping their current rates and offerings. But to say that freelancers are more willing to negotiate their rates is simply not true. In fact, the most successful freelancers are those that take time to set a rate they are comfortable with, and then find clients who are willing and able to pay what they deserve.

Myth: Freelancers get to do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it.

Anyone who has ever worked from home knows that balancing life and work is not always a relaxing experience when they overlap. Sure, one benefit of working for yourself is the ability to make your own hours. But if you have a successful freelancing business, taking time off during the day usually translates into late nights or off-hours work. Yes, you can work when you choose, but there is still work that needs to be done.

Myth: As a freelancer, I don’t need to use a contract with clients.

Contracts are an important part of any kind of business. Not only do they help set the specifications of a project, but they also outline the payment terms. While a contract certainly doesn’t guarantee you will be paid and paid on time, it’s good practice to use one with your clients.

Myth: A client won’t hire a freelancer when they can hire a large company.

Yes, some clients will hire an agency or full-service firm instead of a freelancer. But that doesn’t mean those same clients will never hire a freelancer. It really depends on the scope of work and expertise needed for the project. Many clients do hire a freelancer because they believe they can get the work done quicker, that the freelancer is more responsive, and the client may appreciate that they only have to deal with one contact to get the job done.

Myth: I don’t need to worry about learning new skills if I freelance.

As a freelancer, you ALWAYS need to continue to learn if you want to expand your services, increase your marketability and stay on top of what’s going on in your industry.

Myth: Freelancing is a lot less stressful than working for someone else.

Freelancing may be more stressful in some cases because of the depth of your responsibilities. Not only do you have to do the work well and make your clients happy, but you have to manage your business finances, invoice and track payments, offer customer support and do everything else that makes your business run.

Myth: Freelancing is a good option if you’re not a people person.

When you freelance, you have to be willing to interact with your clients, potential clients and colleagues. Relationships are a huge part of being a successful freelancer because they can lead to work, repeat work, referrals and collaborations. Good communication and an openness to form relationships is a must-have.

Myth: I shouldn’t bother freelancing if I’m not willing to quit my full-time job.

The beauty of freelancing is that you can do it part-time, full-time and even sporadically. Doing some freelance work on the side is a great way to get more experience, learn new things and explore if full-time freelancing is a fit for you.

What freelancing myths would you add to this list?

Image credit: Christian Ferrari

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  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    Re: “Freelancing is a good option if you’re not a people person”

    I’m not a people person, not at all. It’s one of the reasons I am self-employed. I’ve built a freelance business that isn’t centered around providing custom services to each client, so the only people interaction I have is in providing customer support. No meetings, no phone calls, no negotiations and specs, etc.

  • dieomesieptoch

    The beauty of freelancing is that you can do it part-time, full-time and even sporadically.

    …unless you have a non-compete agreement with your day job!

  • http://www.easynegotiationtechniques.com Peter Quinn

    Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

    Peter Quinn

  • elemental70

    dieomesieptoch: That’s when you just keep your mouth shut and go for it.

  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    @elemental70: And what if they find out and your competition has caused more damage (that you’re legally liable for) than your entire net worth?

  • Anonymous

    No meetings, no phone calls, no negotiations and specs, etc. – Dan Grossman

    If you can carve out a niche for yourself without having to socialize, more power to you, but I think that’s a rarity as most freelancers have to socialize/network to develop new business as well as retain current clients.
    I farm out a lot of work to freelancers, and personally wouldn’t want to assign anything to anyone who’s attitude is to avoid socializing. I’m of the philosophy that the majority of design is about communication and that’s really the root of “people skills”. I wouldn’t trust a mechanic who doesn’t have tool skills.

  • Tim

    That depends what the term “non-compete” is defined as. Your day job may be confined to a particular business sector (eg. e-commerce, signage, etc). All you have to do is prove that you aren’t competition and work in a different sector. I have a problem that I have my own company and have a day job with my employer. Every time I start a new job, I always have to worry about that question in my contract, but I’m open about what work I do and have so far always been able to assure them I’m not competition for them. They know that if I was competing, I’d be doing that as a full time job, and not working for them.

  • Web Designer

    I started freelancing after leaving my full time day job. It was my choice to go freelance because i was in need of a creative freedom and this resulted in more money and good work.

    Web/Graphics Designer

  • http://webguy303.com WebGuy303

    Freelancing is awesome. To do it consistently and make money takes more discipline than a day job, at least in my experience, but it’s worth the freedom you gain.

  • Jessie

    I have seen that a lot with the sellers who will not take up a project on VOIS.com becuase they feel the buyer wants to pay little or nothing for it, but you know, I have seen sellers bid on my web design project less than a hundred!

    The truth is I can’t pay that little. It doesn’t seem fair to the others and I really want to work with someone who is dedicated and needs the opportunity to shine and if that means paying a little more then so be it. It certainly worked for me when I picked my graphic artist who did a great job on my logo for a reasonable rate. = D

  • Tarh

    The image for this article makes me want chocolate wafer cookies :-(

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous said: “I wouldn’t trust a mechanic who doesn’t have tool skills.”

    that’s a bad analogy. the correct analogy is :

    I wouldn’t trust a mechanic who does not socialize well.

    And my question to you is, why not?

    -dp

  • sam

    I feel that freelance work can be the most rewarding becuase you are your own boss. I have direct experience with this because a few years ago, I opened a Hair Salon Franchise and I had a great time in control of my life.