Freelance Work: Expectations vs Realities

Freelance work - expectations vs realities

If you’re new to the world of freelancing, you’re probably wondering what life as a self-employed gigster is really like. The funny thing about freelance work or freelancing is that everyone’s experience is slightly different, making it hard to generalize.

But because the reality of life as a freelancer is often different from people’s expectations, we’ve decided to set the record straight. Are you ready to find out what freelancing is really like? Here we go.

Expectation #1: I will be a millionaire in a year! 

Thanks to sensationalized media reports about the odd person who quit their office job and made X amount of money from freelancing in 12 months, people think that joining the gig economy is their passport to incredible wealth. However, for the vast majority, the reality is markedly different.

Reality #1: It will take time to build a portfolio of clients and earn decent money. 

According to Zip Recruiter, the average freelancer picks up $67,000 per year. But it typically takes months or even years to develop your client base sufficiently to reap the true rewards of your labour. While the earning potential for freelancers is attractive, don’t expect to become wealthy overnight.

Expectation #2: I don’t need to work 9-5! Hello, breakfast in bed… 

In some respects, this expectation is legit. As a freelancer, you don’t have to work 9-5 if you don’t want to. However, lazing in bed all morning and neglecting a standard work pattern is certainly not a smart move for your freelancing career.

Reality #2: A dedicated work pattern is crucial to freelancing success. 

Whether you work from 9-5, 7-12, 2-9, it doesn’t matter. The crucial thing is that you have a work pattern and stick to it. As a freelancer, you need to establish office hours and manage your time appropriately. Failing to do so means you will struggle to meet deadlines, which in turn will lose you clients.

Expectation #3: I’m a free spirit; I don’t answer to anyone! 

Again, this expectation is grounded in a partial truth. As a freelancer, you don’t have a boss. You can work your own hours, take on projects that you like, and charge your own rates. But don’t get carried away with your independence, as you need to keep your clients happy.

Reality #3: You answer to your clients. 

In some respects, it’s helpful for freelancers to view their clients as their bosses. You will quickly learn that you need to go above and beyond to please your clients, and although you’re not beholden to their every request, they still pay your wages! You need to be professional, polite and dedicated, or your clients will look elsewhere.

Expectation #4: Working alone means no more workplace BS. I can’t wait! 

Another attractive aspect of the freelancer life is that you can avoid workplace politics and all the associated BS. And swapping the office cubicle for a home office is truly liberating. But it’s not necessarily always as perky as you might expect.

Reality #4: Working alone can be, well, lonely! 

If you’ve never worked on your own before, you will be surprised at how different it is. There’s nobody around to distract you, but there’s also nobody there to motivate or inspire you. What’s more, sitting in front of your computer screen every day can get super lonely, so if you’re a natural extrovert, you might struggle to adapt to the solo aspect of life as a freelancer.

Expectation #5: Hold my beer; I’m set for life as a freelancer! 

Some freelancers fall into the misapprehension of assuming that landing a few initial clients sets them up for life in their niche. Overconfidence can lead to complacency, which in turn results in a drop in your standards.

Reality #5: You need to work exceptionally hard to adapt, improve, and meet your client’s ever-changing needs.

Yes, you should celebrate your early successes, but be aware that to succeed as a freelancer, in the long run, you need to be open-minded, hardworking, and adaptable. The world – and your clients – are constantly changing. If you’re not willing to adapt and meet these changes head-on, you will get left behind as a freelancer.

Final thoughts 

At RadialHub, we truly believe that life as a freelancer is one of the best ways to earn a living, regardless of your niche. But we also want to urge you to be measured with your expectations and be realistic about what to expect.

Freelance success doesn’t materialize overnight, and you will need to put in the time and effort over a consistent period of time to see results. Equally, hard work, adaptability, and an open mind are just as important, as you need to be willing to change with the times to continue your success in your industry.

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