Here’s a few falsehoods I discovered quickly about working for myself.
1 ‘You gotta have a website’
What if you don’t? What if you contact people with your CV, you follow up, they like you, you do a little trial and you start working for them?
When my first promise of a website went down the pan because the developer disappeared off the face of the planet, I was crushed. I’d had big expectations and huge hopes for having my words and offers out there for all the world to see. Though it didn’t happen and I didn’t have any more money to invest, instead of letting it be a sticking point, I canned the idea.
And lo and behold, I still found clients.
Okay, so of course you gotta have a website at one point. But I’d say don’t start with the website.
It’s time-consuming and you need to test what you’re about first.
So what do I say you should start with? Clients. Clients are always good.
2 ‘You’ll make so much more money’
You can make so much more money. But you can also make so much less.
And you will make so much less if you’re still not doing what you want to be doing. By all means go freelance, but don’t do it for the money alone.
3 ‘You can work when you like’
Sure you can. Unless it’s the last day of the month and you have bills to pay and you want to invoice in this period. Unless your job is driven by deadlines. Unless a client calls or emails you needing something yesterday. Unless, unless, unless…
Working at your most productive times of day is great and some of us are night owls or get a better creative buzz in the afternoons. There are many positive aspects to leaving the 9 to 5.
Remember though, as a freelancer you have to be open for business all the time. Set boundaries. Fix working hours. Tell clients what they can expect. Do all those things, but keep in mind that you have to be reachable, timely and approachable always.
4 ‘You’ll never have to put up with other people’s crap again’
Errr wrong! You will. Apparently, people are full of crap whether you meet them in the office or working for yourself. The difference is, as a freelancer, you can’t refer it to someone else, escalate to your manager, or be safe in the knowledge that there is no risk for you personally in whatever’s going down.
On the plus side, you can tell people to get stuffed all you like. Done right, sometimes that’s even good for business!
Oh I can SO relate to this! I’m a work-at-home-mum with 4 businesses and I’ve NEVER worked so hard in my life. Yes, the flexibility is fabulous, but the late nights and early morning starts are a killer. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I have learnt (the hard way) to pick and choose your clients. If it seems like they’ll be a problem, they probably will. Don’t take on work just for the $$$.
I chuckled at number four, Kris. Especially in the beginning, I think clients can be way more trouble than most bosses and co-workers. (I never had a boss call me at 5 a.m. expecting me to brainstorm with them because they suddenly had an idea, for instance.)
Of course, as you learn to get better at setting and communicating boundaries, and as your services are more in demand so you can turn down work, clients get easier to work with, but it’s something you have to work at. Just hanging a “freelancer” shingle does not suddenly mean the people you work for become magically easy to work with ;-).
I’m coming from a place of having a very bad job, you understand! My former boss wouldn’t hesitate to call me at any time and once did at 3am. I’m also a believer in attracting what you put out there so I’ve proved it’s possible to get the clients that are my best fit. Totally agree starting out wasn’t like that! I put it down to having a fearful attitude back then though and attracting that negative energy. I even got scammed!