Freelancing is rarely what you expect. Probably, when you begun freelancing you had in mind a lot of great stuff and freedom like: work when you want, work where you want, take a nap or a walk whenever you feel like it, no boss and many more like that.
However, reality is a little bit different. You rarely have most of these perks and being a freelancer often requires you to work really hard.
Moreover, when you look on the Internet you find that you are not alone and that most freelancers are like you.
Let’s make a short list of what many freelancers are expecting
- No boss to respond to
- Work when you want and less than an employee
- Work where you want
- Take a lot of free time
Instead what a lot of freelancers usually get is
- No boss, but clients who try to treat you like they are your boss
- Working all the time, even on weekends
- Work where you are, no matter where you are, sometimes even on holidays
- When you take some free time, then you work until 5 am to make up for it
I might be exaggerating a little bit but this is how it feels like some times. I’ve experienced it, too and I had to make some changes to fix that.
Why the real world is so different?
Before we see what changes you can make, let’s try to understand why is this happening.
The good news is that there are a few reasons and all of them are under your control, so you can fix them and get what you deserve.
We often begin freelancing with unrealistic expectations. Which is totally OK. It’s normal to have unrealistic expectations for something new. They key, is the quickly learn what you can really expect.
For example, laying on a sunny and sandy beach while freelancing is something many freelancers dream about. It almost doesn’t feel like work.
It doesn’t because it is not. You can buy a ticket and go to such a nice place, but 9 out of 10 cases you will be so distracted that you will have hard time to actually accomplish any work.
Working with Horrible Clients
Your ex-Boss might have been bad, but there are horrible clients that are much worse.
Many freelancers fall to the mantra that “The Client Must Always Be Happy” and try to their best and take on any client and in the process sacrificing their own happiness.
Organizing yourself and your work
When freelancing, you are your own boss, running your own business. You are responsible for finding clients, organizing your work and all the communication.
This is very different than when you are employee and as a result there is so much to learn.
As result, before you might end up working for 14 hours or more a day, including weekends, or taking any project that comes around even some horrible stuff.
Well, what can you expect of freelancing?
First, you have to understand that you can choose your benefits. Not all people are interested in the same things.
Some people want to travel while they work, while others prefer to stay where they are but have more time for their kids.
No more fixed hours. No more 9 - 5. Unless, of course you want to. I personally choose to freelance 9 - 5 because I find it practical.
My kid is on kindergarten at that time and my wife is working during that same time, too, so its more practical for me to work 9 - 5.
However, the best part is that if your situation is different, you can choose the best hours that fit your life.
You can even break them like from 7 to 11 and then from 17 to 21, if you are living in some hot part of the world where it is too hot during most of the day.
However, bare in mind that breaking your time too much will have detrimental effect, as it will cause too many interruptions and each time you start you will lose time while your brain is again in work mode.
Optimize Your Process
When your are employee you are often required to do your best work when your employer needs it, even if you cannot do it at the moment. As a result you produce work bellow your high standards.
When freelancing you have the flexibility to work more when you can do your best time and work less or do more automated tasks when you are not in your best shape.
In total, you will probably work as much as when you are employee but your results will be much better.
You don’t have a boss and you should not be looking for one. Many freelancers are so used to having a someone to lead them, that whenever they have a client they treat them like they are their boss.
Naturally, the client begins to treat them like if they are an employee. This never ends well. Especially when one or both of the sides wakes up and realizes that your relationship is not boss-employee but B2B.
Being your own boss gives you the opportunity to always take the decisions which you want.
Working at the most comfortable place
While working on the beach might seem great for all sort of reasons it never works.
Choosing where to work is about choosing the best place to produce your best work.
When you are employee you don’t have much choice. You work where you are told to work on the desk and chair which you are provided.
When freelancing you can choose how and where you are going to work, so that you are the most comfortable for your professional activity.
You can work from home or from a shared space or from somewhere else and it all depends only on you. Some people even experiment before they find the right way to work. The right way for them.
No Dress Code
It might not see huge, but its critical for me. I can do serious business in my pajamas and I’ve convinced clients in deals worth $00,000 while wearing them.
The biggest benefit of freelancing is the freedom of taking the choice that you want. You might be able to choose a sunny beach, but still it is you who will chose and not someone else to choose for you.
How can you get the perks and benefits of freelancing?
As we already talked about it when freelancing you are responsible for everything. You have to organize your time, your communication and everything else.
Doing this well will give you more freedom and prevent some common problems that freelancers face.
Most of the time you are working away from your clients. This makes the communication even more critical.
You should be talking on regular bases with honest and completely open. Don’t assume that your clients think or know something, at least half of the times you will be wrong.
Having a good communication will solve most of the problems with horrible clients.
Organisation of your work
Organising yourself well is critical. If you are well organised you will be able to enjoy the flexibility of your work to the fullest.
Break your project into small specific tasks. It will help you better estimate, create a plan and execute on it.
This is something freelancers often get wrong. Limit yourself to what kind of clients and what kind of works you accept. Don’t just say ‘YES’ on everything.
Limit also the time you work. Especially when freelancing from home it is very easy, almost natural to work long hours. This is one more reason why I work 9 - 5 most of the time.
If you follow my advice you will naturally feel all the benefits of being freelancer. They might not be as sexy as you dream, but they are still great.
If you really want a sunny beach or traveling while working or something else like this, it is still possible, but you have to organize yourself very well for this.