The Joys of Freelancing

When you get into being a freelancer you think about all the free time you’ll have. Or all the really cool clients who value your input and/or your ideas. Now for some that is exactly how it works out for them. For the other freelancers the joy of freelancing is just a phrase as it doesn’t really exist. And if it does, it’s some mythical unicorn that can only be summoned with some magical flute played in the right key at the right time in the right location.

I think the misconception that people have about freelancing is that you’ll have all this free time to pick up new hobbies like knitting sweaters for your cat or the art of breadmaking. You think about how great it will be to be your own boss and earn all this money. Now these visions of grandeur, while achievable for some right away, often take a while to get to.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer, digital marketer, copywriter, advertising genius etc., the joys of freelancing often sound better than they end up being.

What Free Time?

A lot of freelancers want to exit the rat race of the corporate world to have more free time. No more being confined to a dark and depressing cubicle or mindless chatter at the water cooler is what a lot of people want. Freelancing offers the way for those things but at what cost?

If you thought working 8 hours a day was a lot try working 12-15 hours a freelancer. You’re out there trying to get new clients. Meetings, phone calls, emails all day. Picking up the kids, dinner and still trying to get some work done in between. Often as a freelancer you work longer hours than you would making money hand over fist for the billionaires who act like it’s their labor that generates money.

If you’re not disciplined with your time as a freelancer you won’t have any. You’ll constantly be trying to play catch up or carve out time to do this task or that task.

Getting Clients to Pay on Time

One of the biggest joys of freelancing, I mean pain in the ass is getting clients to pay you; let alone on time. It seems that people think of freelancers as little peons who should be grateful that they get paid at all by them.

It doesn’t matter if you have a 15 or 30 day payment policy, businesses will try to not pay you or if they do pay it’s months later. And as you wait for them to pay, your bills are past due. Do you think your client’s care? Of course not. They got your labor already. They have what they need.

And even if you send reminder emails, follow up phone calls; they don’t care. What are you going to do little freelancer, sue them? It would cost more to take them to court than what the invoice was for. These companies know that.

I had a client that didn’t pay me for over 6 months and they’re a Fortune 500 company. One of the, if not biggest cruise lines, in the world. Do you think they’re accounting department cared that they didn’t pay me? Of course not. Who was I in this grand scheme of them making money? I was an inconvenience basically. Sad part was that I wasn’t the only freelancer they did this to. I found out later that there was a long list of freelancers they didn’t pay. I was just one of the ones who would reach out every other day asking where my money was.

Now they people I worked for were solid people who made efforts on my behalf to get me paid. Corporate accounting just didn’t care.

It was frustrating see my work being used and plastered all across the internet in form of ads, emails, graphics etc. and yet my invoices had yet to be paid. Once I received my money, months later mind you, I had to end the relationship as I was not ready to wait to get paid.

Finding Clients

Hopefully you have a nice stable of clients already when you decide to make that jump into freelancing. Otherwise you’ll have to come to the sad reality that trying to find clients is nothing more than a lot of rejection.

You’ll find that your prices are what you think is fair and what you need to keep your bills paid and head above water. Then you see other people offering to do the same work plus more for 75% less of what your rates are. Who do you think your prospective clients are going to go with?

You can try Fiver and all those other god awful “freelancing job sites” where you will constantly lose out to people in India who are charging the bare minimum while offering the maximum effort. It can be depressing.

So if you’re thinking about making a switch to a freelancer it’s better to have clients already then thinking you’re skills and talents are going to open up the flood gates of money from people.

Going Back to the Corporate Rat Race?

Maybe freelancing didn’t work out the way you thought. Now what? Nothing like hanging your head in shame trying to find another rat race job. The problem is that once you have freelancing on your resume you’ve been given the mark of the beast. Hell a pox on your house.

You go interview after interview and they’ll ask you why you want to give up being a freelancer? I mean isn’t that what you wanted to be when you left your 9-5 that underpaid and undervalued you. Why would you want to come back for pizza party Fridays once a month or for the ability to pay $10 to wear jeans on Friday in the summer?

And they’ll always ask about the joys of freelancing and will find ways to make you feel bad about yourself that you didn’t make it on your own and now you have to come crawling back to corporate America.

These people in HR are thinking you’re just going to flee the rat race once you get enough money or clients and that is how it should be. They use you why not use them?

Or my favorite request is that while you’re working for them as an employee you can’t do any freelancing on your own time? Like excuse me, come again? If you don’t want me making money on the side then you better pay me what I’m worth. And good luck with that one.

Are there joys in freelancing? Absolutely. When it’s a well oiled machine running on all cylinders and the money is coming in and new clients are popping up daily it is great. Often you have to have so much going on and you have to be here at t-ball practice and you have a meeting with a new client in California at the same time.

Being a freelancer isn’t for everyone. It takes its tolls. It has it’s bumps and bruises but it beats being micromanaged by a boss who knows less than you and only has the position because his wife’s cousin is a VP in the company.

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