Here, I debunk some of the assumptions and myths about working as a freelancer. From time off, to your own salary.
1 - You get to choose your own hours.
Before I moved into this sector, I had a long, arduous career in hospitality as a chef in some high-profile establishments. Here, I worked basically all day, everyday. Not being able to see my family and friends was what drove me to leave and pursue a career with a bit more flexibility. And what did I go and do? I started my own business thinking that I'd be able to choose my own hours, my own holidays and my own clients.
I now know that I was completely wrong. I definitely don't work as much as I did when I was a chef, but the myth that you can choose your own hours if you're a small business owner is just that, a myth. The fact that someone is paying you for a job, and the completion of that job rests solely on your shoulders, is a heavy burden. When you have the option between taking the evening off or spending the same evening figuring out when the contact form you just created isn't working, it has to be the contact form everyday of the week.
You might think that the periods when you don't have a client would be the ideal time to take a bit of time for yourself. Unfortunately you often find more work to do. You have to use this time wisely to promote yourself, learn new skills, maintain your own website and lots more like that.
I do certainly get more time off than I used to but that's only because I used to work all the time. So If you're coming in from an office job then you'll probably have to work more hours than you do now in order to be completely comfortable with your finances. It takes a long time where you can get to a place where you can charge enough to get by but not have too many clients that you have no time for yourself. It's all about balance.
2 - You'll make more money.
This is usually a myth if you're within your first year or two of being a freelancer. Finding clients is the hard part. If you have no clients, you have no money. If you have no money, you have no food. If you have no food ... well, like I said, I've grown to quite enjoy eating everyday, it's been proven to be very good for you after all.
If you can manage to struggle along until you have enough clients that need you to edit their websites on a monthly basis, you may well earn enough to pay the bills just from that! Any new clients you pick up that need a new website can then help fund your savings (which you'll need for quieter periods) and your business itself. For example, you may need to invest in Google Ad-Words in order to keep drumming up new clients. You may be paying for an office, a delivery van, transport to meetings and not to mention tax and national insurance.
3 - It's lonely work.
It's lonely if you let it be lonely. Remember, you're the one that writes the contracts. If you insist that you'll only work 9-5, five days a week then that's up to you. That leaves time for you let your social life bloom. It's very important to make sure you don't just lock yourself away and work - something I know I'm guilty of myself.
4 - You have to charge less to gain clients
You absolutely don't have to charge less than the next guy. As long as your work is as good as theirs, you can charge whatever you see fit. Do your best not to let it go too far the other way. Overcharging clients isn't something I agree with at all - I'm not one for this "cut-throat" business nonsense. Try to keep your prices fair and don't be scared to say no to friends looking for a cheap deal if it'll get in the way of people paying full price. You do have to make a living after all.
5 - Everyday is casual Friday
Now, don't get me wrong, if you're like me and you work from home, I don't suggest wearing a suit and tie everyday. But you should try not to get into the habit of working in your PJs. Get up at a reasonable time, shower and put fresh clothes on. Trust me, it'll help you be productive.
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