Top 10 Freelancing Truths You Should Know
Freelancing is a satisfying profession, bringing unlimited earning potential and flexibility. However, some freelancers struggle to book clients or build their portfolios to charge a rate they feel resonates with the quality of their work. But why do some freelancers easily book clients and negotiate a high rate while some freelancers struggle to sustain?
The answers lie in some ‘truths’ about freelance that are often overlooked but are crucial for success. This blog will unravel these freelancing truths, demystifying the secrets that can empower you to not only survive but thrive in the freelancing world.
Truth #1: You're worth more than you think (and your rate reflects it)
Myth: “Other freelancers are charging way less than you are; your rate seems high.”
The rates you charge as a freelancer are justified based on your expertise and experience. You should own them as you can add value through your qualitative work. For companies, hiring employees may cost more than your combined rates as the companies have to pay numerous benefits over salaries to employees but not to you.
Most freelancers charge on a per-project basis, further reducing the retaining nature of employee payments without factoring in the monetary consequences of sick leaves and paid vacations.
Hence, do not underestimate your value, be firm on your rates, and let your work do the talking!
Truth #2: Six-Hour Projects Are Eight-Hour Realities
Myth: “The work is not that extensive, that’s why the short deadlines.”
Projects rarely go exactly as planned. Unforeseen challenges, technical issues, or unexpected revisions can significantly extend the time needed to complete a task. Clients rarely understand a freelancer’s workflow and may set inadequate deadlines.
A six-hour deadline to complete a task may require more hours to research, edit, or align the task as per the objective.
Client communication, feedback loops, and revisions can consume more time than initially anticipated. Hence, it is important to analyse the communicated task extensively before starting the project to set realistic expectations from the outset.
If such is the case, you can charge on a per-day basis to factor in the extra time spent.
Truth #3: Downtime is not the enemy; it's your BFF
Myth: “The longer a freelancer works, the higher the earnings.”
Freelancers often view downtime as unproductive and feel they are wasting time when they can work and earn. However, without a definitive downtime like salaried employees, freelancers must define their working hours and create a work-life balance.
Freelancers often work on tight schedules, and constant productivity without breaks can lead to burnout.
Once you start experiencing burnout, you will feel highly unproductive and struggle to do even the smallest tasks, forcing you to furnish mediocre work. Hence, it is important to take regular breaks, both daily and overall. Build "annual leaves" into your contract, and do take those breaks.
Remember, a rested freelancer is a productive freelancer (and a happy one, too).
Truth #4: You're a CEO, not a cubicle dweller
Myth: “As a client is paying a freelancer, the freelancer should behave as an employee.”
A freelancer is not an employee and is not obliged to participate in a client’s micromanagement strategies. As a freelancer, you are your boss and should dictate your terms, which should be clearly defined in the freelance contract. Negotiations are always fine, but clients should not dictate your schedule and rates.
Recognise yourself as a CEO to create a mindset shift from thinking as an employee to a business owner. Approach your future decisions with a strategic mindset, considering the overall vision and goals you have to achieve through your work.
Reading business books can help create an authoritative mindset and set you apart from other freelancers.
Truth #5: Rush jobs deserve rush prices (and maybe a side of eye rolls)
Myth: “We don’t have the budget; can you complete it as fast as you can.”
As a freelancer, you may often encounter clients who request urgent or last-minute work, expecting quick turnarounds without considering the impact on the freelancer's schedule. When clients think less time would mean lower payments, it should always be the other way around. For a freelancer, ‘urgent’ work should translate to ‘increase rates.’
Since freelancers work with multiple clients simultaneously, urgent work means that they have to work extra hours, and rushed jobs deserve rush prices. For urgent or tight-deadline work, ask for a higher rate. If it's a real emergency, they'll pay. If not, it can wait like any other request.
Truth #6: Work should fit your life, not the other way around
Myth: “A freelancer working from home can just start working any time of the day.”
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial, and it's essential to prioritise personal well-being and lifestyle. It ensures longevity in your profession and reduces the risk of feeling burned out or disenchanted with your work.
Work is a part of your life, and it never benefits to make your whole life about working. Remembering that work should enhance your life rather than dominate it is a key principle for freelancers.
Create a balanced work schedule and communicate it with all your clients. Try not to think about work during your time, and ensure that you give ample time to your friends, family, and activities you love.
Truth #7: Honesty is the best policy (even when it's uncomfortable)
Myth: “As per the work schedule, it should not take more than the communicated deadline.”
No freelancer likes to miss deadlines, but there is no denying that project hiccups are as real as clients' missing payment deadlines!
They may not understand that there is always a possibility that something might come up for the freelancer to miss the deadline and ask for more time. However, on the freelancer’s part, it is always important to be honest when completing work within a set time frame.
While agreeing to a project’s deadline, it is important to factor in such hiccups and agree on a stretched deadline rather than waiting until the last day to confess project hiccups and ask for more time. Be honest with the client; they may surprise you with understanding and a revised timeline.
Truth #8: Desperation doesn't attract good clients; it attracts chaos
Myth: “Pleading clients for projects may help get projects”
Yes, there are times when freelancers need projects to earn enough to pay the bills. However, showing desperation to a client is never a good strategy, as leverage is one of the most important negotiating factors for getting good projects. Since clients need the work, you have leverage to negotiate better terms.
Being desperate and pleading with them to give you the project creates an impression that you are not getting regular work, possibly because of furnishing mediocre quality. Walk away from projects that smell like trouble. A good project is better than ten mediocre projects filled with headaches.
Truth #9: You're not alone. Community is your secret weapon
Myth: “A freelancer is a person who has to do all the work alone.”
One of the best things about freelancing is that numerous other freelancers are trying to book the same clients as you. Although such competition may seem like a threat, it can be a freelancer’s greatest asset. Why? Because you can book as many clients as you want and give the work to other freelancers at a lower rate than what you are getting.
Subcontracting the work to a fellow freelancer will help you earn more while allowing other freelancers to do the same and build their portfolios. Furthermore, collaboration is important to create a business synergy as fellow freelancers may also give you work in a similar situation.
The freelancing community is your biggest asset for insights, tips, and solutions to challenges you might face, contributing to your professional growth.
Truth #10: Your project is your baby, but your client has their priorities
Myth: “A freelancer’s work is the core of a client’s business.”
As a freelancer, furnishing quality work is of the highest priority. However, you should understand that the work you furnish may be the most important for you but is a small part of running a successful business for your client. A client is paying you for the work, and they just want your work to be their money’s worth.
As a freelancer, be true to yourself and work as hard as you can, but don’t take it personally when the client does not show the same interest and enthusiasm for your work as you. You should remember that as freelancing is your business, they also have a separate business to run.
You are being paid to complete a project at the end of the day. Once you complete it, there is no point in thinking about how the client utilises it for the business.
From recognising your true worth to understanding the delicate balance between your passion projects and client priorities, these insights form the foundation of a resilient freelancing career.
Keep in touch with other freelancers, as they can help you learn and grow as a freelancer. It is true freelancing that is one of the most flexible and rewarding professions, but it has its own set of challenges. By setting apart the myths with reality, you can ensure that you have leverage and negotiate the best terms.
Q.1: What is freelancing?
Ans: Freelancing refers to a work arrangement where individuals, known as freelancers or independent contractors, offer their services to clients or businesses on a temporary, project-based, or part-time basis.
Q.2: Which skill is best for freelancing?
Ans: The best skill for freelancing depends on various factors, including your interests, expertise, and the current demand in the market. However, certain skills are consistently in high demand across different freelancing industries, such as writing, content creation, graphic design, web development, software design, etc.
Q.3: Can a fresher start freelancing?
Ans: Yes, a fresher can start freelancing. Freelancing can be a great way for individuals just starting their careers to gain valuable experience, build a portfolio, and earn income. However, it is important to first research the business type and the targeted industry to determine sustainability.