This post is part of the Launch Your Biz Series.
A lot of people I know are extremely interested in becoming a freelancer and working from home, but are just held back by fears and common myths that are totally untrue.
When I was still part of the corporate world, I used to believe that running a freelance business wasn’t for me or that it would take me a long, long time to achieve the kind of success that I wanted.
True, it did take me more than two years to crack the code, and even then, every single day continues to be a learning experience for me.
Here are some of the most common myths I’ve heard from people about working from home – and the truth about it.
1. IT IS JUST A FAD
In a survey conducted by Upwork and the Freelancers Union back in 2017, about 57.3 million Americans are already doing some sort of freelance work and they project that this will continue to grow – and even surpass the number of non-freelancers by 2027.
Additionally, another study has found out that around 77% of freelancers have already ditched their day jobs because they are already making stable income from their gigs.
The past year, I was able to achieve PHP 1 million in revenue, or around US$20k, with a 70-80% profit margin.
Obviously, the gig economy will continue to grow and isn’t just a fad everybody is jumping on.
2. YOU CAN BECOME YOUR OWN BOSS
Yes – and no.
While you do call the shots on who you work with and how many clients you want to take on, you still end up answering to your clients.
Once you enter a contract with them, it is your responsibility to provide them with the best service you can possibly provide, within the limits of your capability and your contract.
Learn to set boundaries right from the start to avoid client work from creeping into your weekends and personal time.
3. YOU CAN EARN TOP DOLLAR
Yes, it is totally possible.
However, it is also important to remember that, like everything in life, this doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be able to prove your worth in order for your present and future clients to trust you.
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to your ideal rates.
It took me a year to raise my rates from $5/hr to $40/hr. However, I was stuck at charging just $3/hr at most for more than two years!
4. YOU END UP BROKE
Not really. But that is only if you know how to charge your worth and your finances.
In the beginning, I was struggling to make ends meet because a) I was paid very little and, b) I was the sole earner in the family.
However, when things started to click, I was able to get a better handle of my business and was able to charge more for my services.
I ended up being able to pay some of my debt, move to our new house, purchase a high-end laptop, celebrate birthdays, travel and go on staycations, and finance a mini renovation at home.
4. YOU CAN WORK FOR LESSER HOURS
Here’s the truth: the past two months or so, I’ve been working only 15-20 hours a week but earn twice as much as I used to earn as a junior programmer in the corporate world.
Still, I’m constantly in front of the laptop because I have to work ON my business including:
- finding leads and potential clients
- sending pitches, proposals and contracts
- scheduling discovery calls and client meetings
- working on my website and figuring out a better system for my business
- and many more!
Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week
5. YOU HAVE BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
I constantly feel guilty about this.
Being at home, it’s hard to say no when your bed or your family tells you to hit pause. I’ve been finding myself giving in to these requests lately.
However, there are also critical times when I need to really focus on getting things done or when I start to get in the zone and don’t want to break the momentum.
This gets tougher because I exclusively breastfeed my son which means there is no negotiating with him when it’s feeding time.
6. ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE SPECIAL SKILLS CAN MAKE IT
A lot of people thing that you need special skills in order to make it big as a freelancer. You totally do not.
True, I may have had a tech background from corporate or have been writing and blogging since elementary but you have to remember: everyone starts somewhere.
I wasn’t always good at tech. In fact, I don’t even offer web development services because I have no professional experience at it (my background was in C programming, which I think is nearly useless haha).
When I started working with Clickfunnels, I only highlighted in my pitch that I was tech savvy and I could do the task given (this is a slightly dangerous path to take but let’s talk about it in some other post).
When I wanted to make it big in freelance writing, I worked hard on my own blog and submitted guest posts so I could show them to potential clients. Eventually, one of the sites I submitted a guest post to offered me a full-time role and another, a recurring and paid writing gig.
Sometimes, you’ll have to negotiate in order to get the experience. Other times, you just have to be really creative: sign up for a free trial, use it on your own business, read from others, and have lots of practice.
It’s determination and the eagerness to learn that will take you far.
7. YOU AREN’T SUBJECT TO STRESS
I treat my freelancing career as a business and that has totally changed everything for me.
Regardless of how you run yours, you have to keep in mind that freelancing means you aren’t tied to an employer (otherwise, that means you are a remote worker). This means that your income is also subject to ups and downs, just like a regular business, and that can bring in a lot of stress.
To manage your stress levels, here are some tips:
- never stop marketing, even if you are fully booked
- have some buffer money on hand, to help you during dry spells
- learn when to say yes and no to opportunities
- if you are closing too many contracts, it may be time to raise your rates (I actually recommend raising them a little bit with every client you bring in)
- convert one-time clients to retainer ones in order to bring in regular income
- diversify your income and look for other means to bring in money
8. YOU CAN WORK ANYWHERE, ANYTIME
We’re lucky to have been able to go out of the house whenever and wherever we want (most of the time, at least).
However, when we do decide to go out of the house or travel, there are always a few things we have to consider:
- Is there a reliable Internet connection at our destination?
- Will I be able to sit down and plug in my laptop (in case it runs out of power)?
- How many hours will I be offline/away from the laptop if working isn’t possible?
- Do I have to inform my clients that I will be away?
- Are there deadlines that I have to meet?
Nope. Freelancing isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. You have to learn to manage your own schedule as well.
9. YOU HAVE ZERO SOCIAL LIFE
Working from home was clear choice for our family because we wanted to be able to spend more time with the kids.
It is also our choice to avoid having to go to cafes or coworking spaces because it was just more practical and made more sense to literally stay at home and work there. Plus, we’d end up spending more for food, transportation, and for kids’ entertainment (playground, etc).
We do have more flexibility in case of invites from friends but most of the times, our decision is tied to our energy levels (because we’re parents of two), our introvertedness (lol), and practicality (workload, expenses, etc).
10. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO SELL
The biggest myth of all.
The thing is that, once you are a freelancer, you have full control of your career – your income, your clients, your schedule and everything else in between. There are no managers and supervisors, and thus no employers to do the legwork of finding your clients.
Once you start a freelancing business, you need to shake off your fears and start learning how to market and sell your services. If you tell no one about it, then you will never get hired – it’s really simple logic.
You might have great programming or design or writing skills but if you have no projects and no clients to apply these skills towards, it’s useless.
So…make sure to hone in on who your ideal clients are, the problems they have and the solutions you can provide them – and you should be able to create a compelling pitch that will win you clients over and over again.
WHAT DID I MISS?
Another funny misconception I get all the time from fellow Filipinos who ask me what I do for a living online is that they tend to categorize me in these areas:
- a call center agent
- an online English teacher
- an admin assistant
- a customer service person (email/chat/voice)
I think it’s funny how limited our knowledge is on what people can do for a living online. It does goes to show that the digital landscape is constantly changing and that new roles continue to emerge every single day.
There are a gazillion things that you can do online for a living, and these seven work-from-home jobs are among the highest earning ones I know so far.
Most of the times, I just tell them that I write for websites (which is where I started out) to make things simpler to explain.
What common myths and misconceptions to freelancing have you encountered? Share them!