When I first started Freelancing, I couldn’t tell truth from myth if my salary depended on it (which oftentimes, it did). I believed that my clients came before my own personal sanity (myth), and worried about the taxes someone said I needed to report quarterly (truth).
While it can seem like an easy way to make a little extra cash, Freelancing is a complex and intricate lifestyle that is home to a number of myths and misconceptions. Some of those myths that I wish I had known the truth about before starting my Freelance career include:
You Are Your Own Boss
While true that you get to choose the type of work you do, when you do it, and where you get it done, you are far from being your own boss. In fact, it can be argued that you have a number of different bosses, depending on how many clients you take on. Your clients are the ultimate judge of your work, so you must treat them like a boss that you wish to please.
You Never Stop Working
Most Freelance work done is done from home, but that doesn’t mean you should be available to your clients on a 24/7 basis. Set boundaries up front with your work, and let the people you are creating for know that you will not be checking emails after 7pm, and to not expect a response on the weekend. I learned this the hard way, after a client of mine was firing off tasks on Easter Sunday, and expecting the completed work back to them that night.
You Don’t Have to Pay Taxes
This is just a flat out lie. I’ve heard rumors of Freelancers not reporting some (or all) of their taxes, and I am here to tell you that that is just plain ridiculous. As a Freelancer, you are responsible for paying taxes on the work that you do. While it can be a bummer to hand over nearly a quarter of your earnings to Uncle Sam, the small cut now is much better than penalties later down the road. Tip: A good rule of thumb when setting prices for your work is to factor in that extra 25% so when the time your tax payments come due, you bank account doesn’t hurt so badly.
When you are a Freelancer, you are your own business. While I didn’t know much about it before diving headfirst into a pile of work, I encourage you to do your research and be prepared for the projects ahead. But don’t be too timid – say yes to the jobs you want, and go from there. Sure you will make mistakes, but what you learn from those errors will help grow your Freelance work into an even stronger business moving forward.