When I first started out my blogging career, I wasn’t doing quite as much freelance journo & PR work. As a result, a lot of my friends and family couldn’t wrap their heads around what I was doing being a “real” job. Over my three years as a freelancer, I’ve heard every misconception under the sun! After a while you tune out, but for the benefit of any newbie (or seasoned) freelancers out there, or for anyone who knows a freelancer, here are some things we’re sick of hearing.
While it’s lovely to receive invitations, we still have jobs to do
You can hang out with me on Wednesday, right?
It’s amazing how many people want to hang out with me or ring me up for a chat on their days off from work because they assume that I’m not actually working. Yes, I’m definitely more flexible. I can rearrange my schedule so that I can see people on their days off or when it suits them. What they don’t see is that I then work all weekend to make up for it, or that I’m up until the early hours to catch up on everything I’ve missed. Freelancers are doing actual work, yo, not just sitting around in their underwear watching Lorraine Kelly.
I make thousands of people happy every day – what do you make?
Wow, how much do you make doing that?
Wow, when did it become OK to ask people about what they earn? Questions that are totally taboo for the salaried suddenly become acceptable when a freelancer is on the spot. I simply refuse to answer questions about my income, or I tell everyone I meet something different, just for funsies (it’s not lying – I’m a freelancer, some months I earn loads, some months I live off of store-brand baked beans). Freelancers – it’s none of anyone else’s business what you earn – you don’t have to answer. Or, if you want to be really mean, turn the question around on them and see how comfortable they are answering you.
People think it’s all cocktails and chilling
Well, it’s alright for SOME, isn’t it
I can’t count the loaded, jealous, snarky comments I’ve had about my “comfortable” working life. Once again, it’s all about the assumption that freelancers don’t do very much. That the self employed sit around watching telly all day.
There are pros and cons to being a freelancer. One of the many, many pros is that I get to hang out in my own house all day (I really hate leaving my house), that I can have afternoon naps and random baths when everyone else is slaving away at a desk. I can reward myself for a job well done with an episode of my favourite TV show, I don’t have to buy expensive, bland work lunches.
However, don’t underestimate just how much work a freelancer has to do. You have to be your own IT support, your own accountant, your own marketing department, your own web designer, your own admin assistant, your own office manager, and you have to be disciplined as hell. You also don’t get to have normal holidays because there’s nobody paying you for your absence. Long after nine-to-fivers have switched off their PCs for the day, I’m often still hammering away at some project or other – I probably get more done in a day than many people do in a week.
My motivation is different to most of my peers – don’t work? Don’t earn. Simple as that – still think freelancers have it easy?
I spend quality time with my buds
Isn’t it a bit lonely / antisocial?
Simply put – no. No, it isn’t lonely to be able to choose who I work with on the basis of their talent and personality. No, it isn’t antisocial to see the people I choose to see after a nice productive day at work – alone. And it’s only lonely for people who deplore their own company – quite honestly, I love having days to myself. I feel charged and ready to see the people I love and give them my full attention.
You’re so brave
No, I’m not. I have faith in myself. I’m not afraid that I won’t make ends meet because I trust myself to properly market my skills. I know that if I can’t afford something, I won’t buy it. I diversify my income streams so that, on a slow month, there’s always money coming in. I’m not brave, I’m confident in my work and I’m resourceful.
Bravery implies that freelancers rely on luck and circumstances – I won’t lie, they help. However, being good at your job also helps. Being tenacious and having the ability to go out there and create opportunities helps too. If you think going freelance is brave, then think again about whether or not it’s right for you – you need to know you can do this.
Are you a freelancer? Or are you thinking of taking the plunge? Do people “get” what you do? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box!