One of the things I hear the most when it comes to freelancing is that is it not stable enough.
I can’t count the times I’ve heard from friends or from newbie freelancers on the internet about the fear that they were experiencing when it comes to starting a freelancing career, especially in the creative world.
At first, it was very difficult for my family to finally understand the road I was pursuing.
“Freelancing? What the hell is that? When are you going to get a REAL JOB?”, they said (as if these ass bursting that I was doing could not be considered already a steady job huh?).
And this is not only present in older generations. Whenever I try to approach my friends with some career problems and offer them the path of freelancing, they often say that they are looking for a “real job” or that they fear the lack of stability that being a freelancer has.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand these people. I’ve been there too.
When I started as a freelancer, this stood as one of my biggest fears. I’ve always thought to myself “I know this is the last gig I’ll get, and then, no one else will hire me… You can bet”.
Well, needless to say it didn’t happen he
However, in order to understand this fear we need to step back in time a little bit and understand this whole myth of “stability”.
The Myth of Stability
Our parents lived in a situation very different than the one we, as millennials (or as any shit you might wanna call it), live in.
Our parents experienced a very steady and “healthy” economic growth. Capitalism showed its best face during some years and things were really starting to look like they were gonna last forever.
Except that they didn’t.
As years went by, some of the capitalism we knew in the 60s-70s started to show some signs of cracking and things started to change along with the rise of computers, a lot of being laid off due to automation, etc.
Companies saw their profit margins go down and things had to start to re-organize itself so that the system could survive.
The clash of ideas arise when those people that lived in those good times still believe they exist and they still act as if the economy worked like it did back then.
Besides that, stability is really a myth because NOTHING, not even a steady job, can guarantee that it will last forever.
But, here is the truth: when you are a full-time employee, your stability is only there in your mind. At any point, the company you work for could go under, lay you off, or miss payroll.
And this is where most creatives still miss the whole spectrum of opportunities that could really skyrocket their careers.
While the paycheck you get every month feels stable, you have zero control over it. Any number of circumstances, that you have no control over, can change the course of your financial situation. And you must be ready for it.
Said that, there are some myths that a lot of creative professionals start to believe that hold them back from starting their career as freelancers. In this blog post, I’m going to tackle 5 of the most common myths I often hear from freelancers.
#1 You Can’t Do Freelancing Full Time
#2 You Can’t Get A Steady Flow Of Income
#3 You’ll Never Be Able To Charge High Rates (Unless You’re Lucky)
#4 You’ll Have To Take Any Work For Any Pay
#5 It’s Too Hard To Find Clients
You Can’t Do Freelancing Full Time
What most people believe when they’re starting to freelance is that they can’t do freelance full time.
As soon as you shift from an employee mindset to a freelancer/entrepreneur, things start to get really hard.
When you’re an employee, with a steady paycheck, you don’t need to worry about your payment by the end of the month. You have the security that it will be by your bank account no matter what happens.
However, when you put yourself in the shoes of a freelancer, things start to shift. Now, you’re the one responsible for chasing clients and getting enough income through the number of gigs you were able to acquire.
What most creative professionals don’t take into account, however, is that even a company needs to close their deals and earn its clients. This is where the money comes from.
As a freelancer, you’re basically a one-sized-company, having to do all of its jobs.
When it comes to freelancing full-time, you need to make sure to find enough clients that will give you a similar income to the one you’d be getting by working full time.
Let me give you a quick example.
Let’s say you charge $350 to design a landing page, for example. And let’s say you want an income of $4,000 per month.
Using a basic math equation, you would need to find, at least, 12 clients per month to achieve this basic income goal. It doesn’t seem impossible, does it?
When you’re just starting out, it might seem a little bit difficult to get 12 clients per month, since you’re a newcomer to the “Town Of Freelancing”. However, as you gain experience and people start to know your name, people will actually come to you looking for your services.
Said that, we could conclude that freelancing full time is something actually more achievable than you actually thought and that:
1- Freelancing needs to be a long-term investment
2- Marketing yourself is as important as doing a great job
3- You don’t need to be afraid to showcase your work, since inbound marketing is very important in that situation.
With a proper amount of marketing and looking for the right clients, you’ll be able to achieve a proper balance between pricing/number of clients, which would make your basic income goal pretty achievable.
You Can’t Get A Steady Flow Of Income
This is also something that a lot of freelancers still fear and it is kind of related to the myth of not being able to build a steady income out of freelancing.
Trust me, I understand this fear. I’ve been there before. Once I started out, I didn’t have a steady flow of job, which worried me a lot, especially since I had bills to pay and a place to maintain. One of my biggest fears was that if someday, I would not be able to get any more gigs.
Needless to say, it didn’t happen.
There were times where clients I would usually work with would simply land me no jobs, but I always managed to get more gigs right before I would run out of money.
Getting a steady flow of income means having a steady flow of clients. Said that, if you’re looking for “stability” in freelancing, you need to think about always reserving some part of your time to go after clients and close deals…
Deals = money.
This is the trap most creative professionals find themselves into… When they finally close a deal, they live entirely for that, neglecting completely that it will end sometime and that they’ll need to look for other clients in the future.
If you’re a creative freelancer, you’ll need to make sure to not forget that project will end and you’ll need to look out for more.
One strategy I like to use is to project myself 2 weeks in the future.
Let’s say you closed a gig that would take 1 month to be ready. Once you’re 2 weeks into the project, I would definitely start to look for other projects, so that you can close another one before your current project finishes.
New projects usually take some time to start. Your clients will like to know you, explain you some concepts, etc. Having that buffer will secure you in case you’re not able to find any other gigs and clients in a while.
You’ll Never To Charge High Rates (Unless You’re Lucky)
Charging and pricing. I would call this fear.
I see a lot of creative professionals actually with the fear of charging and pricing their services, mostly because we often see how freelancers devalue their work. The whole gig economy is there to prove it, right?
Fiverr would be one of the biggest examples. Marketing themselves as a place where you could get creative work done for $5 definitely creates a mindset in which people would definitely be looking for this price range whenever they start looking for a new creative service.
The following example happened to me recently.
A friend of mine came to me embarrassed because the price he needed to send to his client was actually high by his standards. I, then, asked him to break down what services he was offering and, after discussing together, we got to a place of his hourly rate being around $15, which is pretty acceptable.
This story just resumes a pretty common fear among creative professionals, which is the fear of charging and pricing their services the way you deserve it.
Pricing is definitely a whole new section and there are a lot of ways to discuss this topic, we will leave it aside for now.
My point is this: Don’t be afraid of charging the right amount of money for your services.
Once I started out, I had the feeling I NEEDED to beat some indian freelancers who charged $5 an hour. I could never beat them and make a living charging these rates. I then, started to focus on differentiating my services and finding ways in which I could be more valuable to anyone who hired me.
Most of the times, people are looking for problem solutions when they hire you. As normal as this advice might be, it is still valuable.
Don’t waste your time with low paying clients. They’re usually the ones who will give you the most headaches and will demand more of you.
Charging high rates is definitely something achievable, once you understand your market and after overcoming most of your charging fears.
You’ll Have To Take Any Work For Any Pay
What is more annoying than a low paying client? Yeah, you’re right, another low paying client.
Once I started out I believe I needed to take any work for any pay.
And I won’t lie… I did. It can definitely be a good strategy once you’re just starting out as a freelancer. I know a lot of high paying freelancers nowadays who started their careers working for free, just to get experience or to get their work out there.
However, at some point, you’ll need to make the transition and stop doing that. And you’ll need to use your good judgment here.
Escaping the “Any Work For Any Pay” trap means finding ways to differentiate your work from the crowded marketplace. Places like UpWork, for example, are full of people competing for the lowest bids and this is something you should definitely avoid.
Have you ever observed people doing promotions and trying to earn their clients by the lowest prices? The next time you see that, take some time and go talk to them.
Ask them how are their life and career going and how is their flow of work. Whether you’ll find that they’re not having enough clients or that they are doing a huge amount of work that won’t pay off in the long run. Soon, most of those people start to look for other careers, simply because they are not able to sustain itself.
The right clients, and the ones you’ll need to attract, won’t hesitate when it comes to paying the right amount of money you deserve. And these are the ones you should be looking for.
It’s Too Hard To Find Clients
This is another common fear that affects most creative freelancers. The fear of starting your freelancing career and not being able to find any clients.
WHERE ARE MY CLIENTZZZZZZ? DAMN!
When you work for a company, usually you don’t need to worry about getting clients. Your boss (or other department) is the one responsible for handling all of this for you.
The only thing you need to worry about is doing your job the best as you possibly can.
However, as we’ve talked before, as a freelancer you’re basically a one-man company, which means that you’ll be the one handling this stuff as well. And if there is no one else there to take care of this for you… How do you do it?
If you’re just starting out and you’re a nobody, chances are it will definitely be a little bit more difficult for your to get clients, after all, no one knows you, right? At this stage, it will be better to give a shout to friends, family, local business needing your services, etc. You can also use sites like UpWork to find clients and go to them.
As time goes by and you start to gain notoriety, the game will flip and clients will eventually come looking for you and your services.
One of the best things you can do to start getting clients is to build an online presence for yourself. I think that it is needless to say such a thing in 2017, but, there are still people who act as if it were no important.
Finding clients can be kind of tricky at first, I acknowledge. However, this is why sites like UpWork make such a success online. It’s a perfect place for new freelancers to start looking for clients and close their first deals. This was exactly like I started.
Is Freelancing Really Risky?
The world of freelancing can be risky but just like it is life in this last century, right?
Tony Robbins once said that “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with” and I believe this is absolutely true.
Instead of looking for security, improve yourself so you’re able to adapt. This will be key in the next few years and in whatever new economic models arise in the future.