If there’s one reason to start freelancing I hear more than anything, from college students to recent grads to design veterans ready to break out of their cubicle, it’s this:
I’ll get to work on the projects I want to work on and I won’t have a boss telling me what to do.
And I wish I could tell them how wonderful and true this perception is.
Because while freelancing is one of the most rewarding, amazing jobs I can picture myself having, it isn’t really either of those things.
(Veterans: am I right? Add your 2 cents in the comments…let’s keep it real but light-hearted, okay?)
The reality check
So if freelancing isn’t getting to work on the projects you want to OR not having a boss tell you what to do, what is it?
Scalpel, please…let’s take a peek:
“I’ll get to work on the projects I want to work on”
In my experience, rather than getting to choose the projects you DO work on, you get to choose which projects you DON’T work on.
What I mean is, unless you find a client that needs your ideal project, you may not get the opportunity to work on whatever type of project that makes your heart sing.
BUT, you have the power to reject projects (professionally, of course) that you’re not interested in, not qualified for, or simply don’t enjoy doing. Or, you can take them and contract them out, making a commission as the project manager.
And that’s still pretty awesome.
“I won’t have a boss telling me what to do”
It’s true that you won’t have a person with the power to fire you badgering you about the project they gave you 5 minutes ago.
(Pretty darn cool.)
It’s also true that generally*** you can “do” when you want: work, play, sleep, exercise, eat, go to the dog park, be at your kids’ events, etc.
(Also pretty darn cool.)
However, you now have X bosses (where X = the number of clients you have), and they all have different expectations:
- Sally lives halfway ’round the world from you, so you talk to her at noon her time/4am your time.
- James’ coding team doesn’t speak your language well so you have to spell. everything. out. in. very. simple. words. exactly. as. you. want. it. to. appear.
- Frederico’s upper management is totally disorganized and is late to deliver on almost every project, so you’re a lifesaver when you turn around a project in record time. Again.
- Xiao is just an all-around super client you love working with (and who loves working with you).
- Maria needs a bit of hand-holding, so you spend extra time with her explaining why your idea is a great idea. (But she listens.)
But you know what? Every day is a new challenge, a new opportunity, and often, a new fire. Freelancing is never boring!
***I say generally because there are many exceptions, and usually they pay better, unless it’s just that you procrastinated badly.
The reality (and why you’ll still love it)
Okay, freelancing isn’t quite what you pictured. But it’s still fantastic, and here’s why:
- You get to choose who you WON’T work for. (Stuck with a jerk for the paycheck? Survive with these tips.)
- You get to choose what you WON’T do.
- You get to set your own pricing (need help? Check out this ebook.).
- You get to create your ideal work environment.
- So many fewer pointless meetings!
- No commute!
- And so much more…
The reality of freelancing is that (to a point that people will still hire you — always that’s the end game!) it’s a choose your own adventure. The pages are there to be turned to…you just have to choose whether you’re continuing your story on page 8 or page 15.
New to freelancing? Or been freelancing for years?
New and upcoming freelancers: What perceptions of freelancing do you have? Not sure if they’re realities? Post them in the comments and we’ll share our insight.
Veterans freelance designers: Why did you start freelancing? Do you feel like that’s reality you live in today, or do you wish someone would’ve busted your myth when you first started out? Add your comments!