Throughout my years working as a freelancer, I’ve heard many a myth, rumour or assumption about my job. Whether it be from a well meaning client or a judgemental social media post, there has always been a certain stigma about working for yourself.
Recently I found myself having to dismiss and debunk some of these myths, and although it was a frustrating process to do so, it also gave me a clearer understanding of why people make these assumptions of my work in the first place.
Over the past year, the term ‘working from home’ has been used more and more, often when describing our jobs and working lives. But the phrase gives little away about what we actually do – are we sitting at our computers, typing into spreadsheets, or greeting clients for a one-on-one meeting? Are we spending hours in Zoom calls or curling up on the sofa with a notebook and pen? There’s an air of mystery about just what the freelancer does with their day, as many of those who have only worked in in-house roles won’t understand how a self-employed person can work without the office routine.
So in this weeks blog post, I wanted to debunk some of the most common myths about freelancers and answer some of the most common questions people have about freelancing!
Myth: Freelancers work 24/7, 365 days a year.
Truth: Often, a freelancers working hours will typically be those of a 9-5 working day. Although they do have more flexibility without a manager monitoring their time, many will simply stick to a week-day routine, working Monday to Friday without weekends. Freelancers also take holidays. Although it’s not as easy for a self-employed person to book days or weeks off, and can involve them doing extra work in the weeks prior to their break, they still get to enjoy family holidays, get aways and seasonal vacations.
Myth: Freelancers make more money than permanent workers.
Truth: Much like different industries and different roles in a business will pay different amounts, the same is true for freelancers. Whilst a freelancer might charge more, due to the amount of tax and VAT they will eventually need to pay back, there’s no guarantee that a freelancer will make more than their full time counterpart. The amount of money they make can also be determined by how niche their services are, the demand for their work and the size of the clients they choose to take on.
Myth: Freelancers just work in coffee shops all day.
Truth: Sadly, whilst many of us would like this to be true, freelancing involves a lot more time spent working from home than in upmarket coffee shops. For me personally, some of my projects require access to my iMac, rather than my laptop, so I have to spend my time at home, but my days also involve Zoom meetings and phone calls which can be difficult to complete on coffee shop wifi. A freelancers typical work week can also involve heading for client meetings or networking events too, trying to search for new projects to work on.
Myth: Freelancers know how to do everything in their field.
Truth: 100% incorrect. In my industry of marketing, for example, there are so many different strands of marketing that I simply have no experience in or no interest in offering. Clients will often come to a freelancer, expecting them to be able to carry out all of the services of a full scale agency, which will have different teams dedicated to each different service. A freelancer, on the other hand, is just one person and whilst they will be experienced and able to carry out their job to a high standard, they are not global experts in every area of their field.
Myth: Freelancers are just people who can’t hack office jobs.
Truth: (Yes, I’ve actually come across this one before). Freelancers are individuals who choose to work for themselves, rather than for a company. That is all. Their reasons for doing that can range for anything between a personal preference to physical limitations, and often many freelancers will opt to work alone out of sheer enjoyment rather than fear of a full time job. Working for yourself means that you get to focus on the work itself, rather than the added social pressures and distractions of a company. You get to choose the clients that best align with your preferred working style, rather than trying to force yourself to accommodate the impossible. The work is still hard and demanding, but you simply have more control over how it’s carried out.
Myth: Working as a freelancer means working alone, all the time.
Truth: Whilst a large portion of the work carried out by a freelancer might be done alone, often there is a lot more collaboration that happens behind the scenes to complete a project. Whether it’s brainstorming with a client, sharing the workload with a secondary worker, connecting with experts or collaborating with a company member, group work does happen throughout the course of a client case load. Even if it doesn’t, for me, I’m always speaking to my friends and family about their thoughts on a logo design, for example, or a new social campaign I’m about launch. They can help to guide me in a positive direction, that I can then translate back to my client.
Myth: You don’t get paid for holidays and sick days.
Truth: Unfortunately, I can’t speak for every freelancer on this one, however in my own work, I’ve found this to be a little inaccurate. Whilst I wouldn’t get paid on the days I took off, my clients pay me for a certain amount of work every month – so as long as the work gets done, I get paid the same. For example, say a client wants 20 Instagram posts to go out in July. I create those posts the week before I go on holiday, schedule them and release them whilst I’m away. At the end of the month, I invoice for those 20 posts and I’m paid for them. Freelancing is less about the time spent working and more about the amount of work completed, so it is possible to get paid for your time; you might just have to re-organise your schedule to make it work.
Myth: Freelancers are experts, and know more than full time workers
Truth: Absolutely not. Often, people will approach a freelancer with the impression that they will get a higher level of work and a better degree of experience than an agency worker. This is not true. The only difference between an in-house marketer and a freelancer is the way they pay their taxes. The amount of knowledge each of them will have is vast and varied, and neither of them is more of an expert than the other. Freelancers are also still learning, every single day. With each new client, new softwares are introduced and new styles of marketing are developed and it’s impossible to know everything that your industry has to offer.
Freelancing doesn’t have to be a foreign concept, shrouded in mystery. It’s just a person doing their job from home, and whilst I love talking about my job and the freedom it affords me, it’s important to understand that it really isn’t that different to an in-house role.
What were some of the pre-conceptions you had about freelancers? Do you still have any questions about what it’s like to work with a self-employed marketer?
Thanks for reading.