There is a reason why freelancers religiously follow a contract. As a single entity, it is easy for a freelancer to get taken advantage of when going up against large corporations. It’s similar to a stray pup being fostered by a canine hoarder – you’re unique but you still have to fight for your water bowl, and you’ll have to stand up for yourself to quench that thirst. Therefore, freelancers are an entirely different breed of workers, and that is exactly why we love our jobs, but it’s a double edge sword. While I love freelancing, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world, there are several misconceptions in the working class concerning the freelancer’s position.
- You’re always available to work. I hate to break it to the rest of the world, but freelancers also have families, social lives, and other clients that expend all of our energy to help us sleep better at night. Often times, we are called upon when everyone else is getting stuck in rush hour traffic, because perhaps we are an after-thought. Out of sight, out of mind. Isn’t that the saying? Now, you’re designing or strategizing at 8 o’ clock in the evening with a project that you thought would take ten minutes when in fact you look up and it’s nearly midnight already. Again, get that contract, have them sign it, clarify your hours, and live on. No matter the contract, you’ll still have that one client that wants to sneak in a “quick project”, but put your foot down and remind them of your availability. You are, in fact, running your own business, act like it. Don’t get burnt out too quickly.
2. You’ll take on any project. In many cases, freelancers weren’t always freelancers. We used to have that one company or boss that promised us benefits out the ears, salary pay ( eventually), and exciting, new work on the daily! So then what happens? It all turns out to be bullshit, and that is okay, because now you can select which projects you work on, find your niche, and make your own benefits on your own whim. Unfortunately, many clients may not realize that you like to change things up and work on a variety of projects. Therefore, when you start getting the same projects and designs repeatedly, you hit a dry spell, you get bored, and you hit the road again, you little nomad you. Freelancers can say no, but typically with the mindset that you’re simply no longer needed for dynamic creative as promised.
3. When you’re not working, you love those bonbons. I have sat in on a couple meetings where there has been no need for my presence and I excuse myself- it’s hourly and I’m doing you a favor- then get teased for heading home to sit on my couch and eat bonbons instead. I have sat right back down and let them pay me for sitting on their couch instead, rather than going to my two-screen access at home where I can knock out my tasks in half the time. It’s not me, it’s them, but hey, I won’t argue with empty paid hours. I listen, nod, shut up, and color, as long as I’m getting paid. You have bills, I have bills, we all have bills!
4.You can’t settle down. It’s common for clients to believe you are their one and only true love. In some cases this is true, but let’s not make assumptions. Freelancers have to make a living too, and if we are hired by one company to do a few tasks a day, then you bet your ass we will fight for more work, and we will have other clients with just as intriguing work that may actually respect the signed contract. Be wary of who you make assumptions about, it’s a dangerous game, if freelancers settle it’s because they found a company worth the diamond more valuable than their own.
5. It’s a side gig. Freelancing is not free, and it’s not just something we are usually doing just for the hell of it. More often than not, freelancing is not just a stepping stone, it’s our mortgage payment, utility bills, and Christmas presents for our ungrateful relatives. Sorry if we don’t join in on the reindeer games, but we are probably working rather than going to your company’s holiday party, and most clients should know exactly how this feels, being entrepreneurs at one point themselves, but it’s often forgotten.
Alright, alright. I know, most people that are sitting in their cubicle reading this on their unpaid, five minute lunch break calling bullshit with a mouthful of someone else’s tabbouleh from the breakroom fridge, and I should be making those people jealous of my freedom to come and go, and you really should envy our freedom, but now you know that our profession, just like anybody else’s, has it’s challenges, and it’s one of the reasons we carry on – to prove the haters wrong, and the money, don’t forget about the money. We love the green stuff with the old people faces on it too.
Song of Inspiration: Therefore I am – Billie Eilish