Who is a freelancer? What do you really do? Is it a part-time job? How much do you make? These are, but a few questions people frequently ask me when I tell them about my profession.
In truth, there is no particular way to explain what freelancing is all about.
It does mean working without the confines of a fixed job, but freelancing also differs from person to person.
There are, however, interesting facts about freelancers that are common to the broader job profile.
Irrespective of whether you are a medical transcriptionist, a travel blogger, a tech writer, a translator, or an editor, the following few aspects of freelancing remain the same.
We aren’t always “free”
The “free” in freelancer doesn’t mean that we are available at your beck and call all the time.
I’ve had clients disappear for days to suddenly come back and ask for a job to be done within a few hours. It doesn’t work like that.
When you hire a freelancer, it means they are designating time for you. If you disappear unannounced, we move on and do other things.
Free doesn’t mean “free”
Yes, the other kind of free also doesn’t apply to us. Just because we are freelancers doesn’t mean we are ready to work for free, or that our rates will be magically lower.
It means you save on not having a permanent employee and all the extra expenses that come with hiring someone full-time.
Asking a freelancer to reduce their rate because you are a start-up is ridiculous. I’ve never personally come across a start-up that started making money and then went, “You helped us in the past, so take this bonus, now that we are in the green.”
Think of freelancers are fellow start-ups, and like you are cash-tight, so are we, most of the time.
The Payment Run
Believe it or not, we spend more time running after payments than actually working.
So, think twice about holding off on a freelancer’s pay. We have bills and rent to pay, and a life to live. Just like you expect us to stick to deadlines, please adhere to when you agreed to pay.
Moreover, statements like “it’s only a small amount,” and “it’s not about the money,” are rude when trying to avoid payments. Just like money is important to you, it is to us as well.
On the brighter side, freelancers do have some advantages. We have the luxury to work in our underwear. In fact, I’m doing that now. No need to picture that, you perv!
Freelancers are multitaskers by nature. They have to be.
We do everything from working and editing to research, and of course, are a walking, talking, one-person office.
From emails to running after payments (in case I wasn’t clear above) and dealing with multiple clients, this is what an average day looks like for a freelancer.
Freelancers do not know where and when their next paycheck will come.
They also don’t know when a steady source of income will stop abruptly. Do keep this in mind when dealing with a freelancer.
Not Always Part-Time
Freelancing doesn’t automatically mean part-time work. For many individuals, it is their primary source of income.
Freelancers have the option to work outside of standard office timings. Sometimes, it is expected of them.
Therefore, they often tend to work odd hours, which is a lot harder than the typical 9 to 5 job.
Word of Mouth
Freelancers, very much like any other business, rely on reviews and word-of-mouth promotions for work well done.
If you come across someone good, remember to leave positive feedback and tell your friends about them.
The Unpredictability Factor
Freelance work is unpredictable. There are days when we are frustrated about not having any work. Doubt often seeps in.
Then there are times when we must decline work because our schedule is full.
No Exposure Please
As a freelancer and blogger, I often get offers to work in exchange for exposure.
Long gone are the days when a company could fool a freelancer into working for them like this.
If you are a freelancer, know this, “exposure” will never help.
Having your name in the best of places does not mean clients will come running after you.
Always work in exchange for substantial gain.
These 12 facts about freelancing are also an insight into how we deal with clients on an almost daily basis. They are worth remembering if you plan to hire a freelancer in the future.