When I started freelancing I had zero concept of the freelancing career. Entrepreneurs and other businessmen and women, sure, I understood their daily timetable and their calendar, but freelance guys, I had no idea what their life was all about.
I jumped into my freelance writing career right after campus and the business was not as glamorous as I thought it would be. I can’t tell you the number of times the words “I QUIT!” have slipped out of my mouth.
Freelancing is not just about working from home with flexible schedules, there are a lot of ups and downs and it takes a certain kind of personality to deal with all this and still find success. Here are some of the things people don’t tell you about freelancing.
The cycle of feast and famine.
Many times as a freelancer, there are moments where you have a ton of assignments and articles to finish and then there are moments where you have absolutely nothing to do. There are weeks where I have more work than I could possibly handle and clients are breathing down my neck, I hardly have time to make myself a cup of coffee and then there are times where even your clients go dark and there’s absolutely no work at all.
The feast and famine cycle is a major complaint from many, especially beginners. Experienced and established freelancers usually have high demand and proper planning can ensure that they never have a dry spell. This is because good freelancers have the ability to negotiate with clients to work on assignments at their own convenience.
It is also good to mix up client work with personal work e.g if you are a writer, you do not have to just write for the client, start a blog and write your own articles too. If you are a graphic designer, create killer templates to market yourself and attract clients, same as programmers. These personal jobs are the best in laying yourself a foundation for a better future with higher and more reliable earnings.
When you do not have any assignments, it is also the time to build your skills as a freelancer. The freelancing industry is very competitive and being more knowledgeable gives you an edge over the competition.
There is an irregular cycle of payments
Your payday will often vary. Following the feast and famine cycle, the money you earn will often be a reflection of the work that you have done. But there are some clients who will take forever to pay you.
I am very lucky to be part of the team writing for Timothy Munene. He always pays us on time and is also very reliable. Great clients like Timothy leave their writers happy and even encourage beginners to continue writing.
However, there are other clients that will leave you gritting your teeth as you check your bank account. Some writers have to deal with clients that are slow to pay, holding on to writers’ invoices for even more than 60 days.
This is something we often have to just live with. It is good to try and only work for clients who pay on time but there are some clients who are like our government. They will take forever to pay but they will finally pay and their pay may be better than what other clients pay. This is something that each freelancer should individually choose how to handle.
Again, you could choose to work on freelancing sites such as Upwork that can help you out with delayed pay.
People will not understand what you do.
I recently came to the realization that there’s a cultural gap that exists between me and my family and my friends too. I was once told, “Freelancing is not a real job, it’s a side gig for people who can’t get ordinary jobs anywhere”
There are still a number of people who equate the word “job” to waking up and getting into an office between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. They don’t understand you can still make your own money, in the comfort of your own room under your own terms.
As a freelancer, I am forced to continuously explain to people what exactly it is that I do at home all day. There are moments I’ll have to brush off rude comments about the freelancing lifestyle even from my own family members.
Freelancing is a Love it or Leave it career choice.
Very many individuals are frustrated and tired of having a life that is fully dictated by an employer. Every day, hundreds of individuals are making the bold step to venture into freelancing as they work towards freedom in their own careers.
In the same way, some freelancers are running away from the freelancing industry and applying for full-time jobs in offices.
Life as a freelancer is not easy and it takes a lot of will and courage to withstand the roller-coaster lifestyle. Freelancing is like custom-building your work-life and it takes some time before you can truly succeed. You have to be willing to learn something new, learn from your failures, and build a reputation.
Freelancing can lead to an extremely rewarding career coupled with a very beautiful life. However, people often fail as they join freelancing expecting a life of ease. Discipline and hard work are the basic ingredients for success in anything in life. This is the same in freelancing.