According to a 2013 Forbes article, 42 million Americans are freelancers (approximately 33% of the population). This year, that number is expected to increase. With the growth of this market, more people are curious about how it all works. Although freelancing is no longer seen as some jobless guy in his mother’s basement wearing pajamas, there are still some common misconceptions worth dispelling.
1. Freelance work makes you socially awkward. Here’s the thing: some people are just awkward. Being a freelance writer, artist or corporate headhunter does not cancel out your social life—just like working at a place with a lot of people doesn’t make you popular.
2. Freelancers work from home. Although this is the allure for a lot of people, the truth is that where you work depends on what you do. Some freelance researchers have to visit archives, dine at restaurants for reviews, conduct interviews, and attend functions related to their work. You are only limited by your own perception.
3. Freelancers make less money. This is not necessarily true, many freelancers make more than their employed counterparts. It all depends on the market and the quality of your work.
4. Freelancers make more money. Like the previous misconception, it depends on your particular field and how in-demand your skills are. In the beginning, you may have to build a reputation and possibly accept lower paying jobs to build a strong work history.
5. Freelancers don’t answer to anyone. This is one of the biggest misconceptions. For the duration of a project, your client is your boss. If the client is not satisfied, you don’t get paid!
6. Freelancers don’t work as hard as everyone else. It can be tough to find a decent gig—and unless you are fortunate enough to get a long term, high paying contract right out of the gate, you’ll spend half of your time bidding on jobs. Aside from the job hunt grind, you also need to continuously build up your skills. It’s a very competitive game and if you’re not improving your skill set every month, you’re losing out on job opportunities.
7. Freelance work is always exciting. Like any other job, freelancing can get boring. It also often involves a lot of administrative work that isn't necessarily doing the work that you love.
8. Freelancers don’t have employee benefits. You might be surprised at the portfolios of the more savvy freelancers out there. Just because a person doesn’t have a traditional 401K doesn’t mean they don’t have great health care and long-term savings.
9. Freelancing is not legit. Tell that to the IRS! Freelancers are considered independent contractors and they generally complete a 1099-MISC or similar form for taxes.
10. Freelancers should work for free. There are thousands of posts asking freelancers to “do it for the love” or accept exposure in lieu of cash. Not only is that disrespectful, but it invites more low quality work.
11. Freelancing hurts businesses. The opposite is actually true. Small companies that cannot afford to hire full time employees may rely on contracted work to keep their business running. It also stimulates the economy and allows more consumers to participate in the free market.
12. All freelancers want to get a “regular” job. While it’s true that some people do contract work to supplement their income, there are a growing number of people whose first choice is freelance work. It is especially appealing to the millennial generation, non-traditional families, and entrepreneurs.
Freelancing isn't for everyone. It takes time, energy, and stamina to learn the ropes that bring forth success as a self-employed business owner. However, freelancing is also on the rise thanks to more resources and community support available to those willing to take the plunge. Thankfully, many of these misconceptions are starting to become better understood as the population that consider themselves freelancers is on the rise.