10 Dark Sides to Freelancing No One Tells You About


I won’t lie; being self-employed is something that I refuse to give up. I’ve been freelancing for the past 7 years, and it’s been the best 7 years of my life. I love it. I love the earning potential. I love the freedom to work on my own schedule. I love that my deadlines are strict but that no one cares if I do all my work at 5 am, noon or every single Sunday and never work during the week in my life as long as everything is turned in on time. I love it. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some downfalls to freelancing. For one, people assume that you do nothing all day long so they are always looking to volunteer you for things, becoming upset if you tell them you cannot join them for something one day because you have deadlines and joking that you are lazy. What they don’t know is that you typically work harder than anyone in an office, because they’re getting paid no matter what they do (for how long is entirely up to them since most people can’t hold down jobs without working, you know?) but I don’t make any money unless I’m working.

There are a few other downsides, as well. No one ever thinks these through, tells you about them or even really notices them, though, until they experience them. I hear people tell me all the time that my life must be so simple since I am my own boss, but they have no idea. So here are a few of the dark sides to freelancing that no one mentions.

It takes time

You will not become a successful freelancer overnight, sorry. I worked for nearly a year before I was able to build a nice clientele and enough work under my belt for other companies and people to take me serious. I started out writing making next to nothing and have worked my way up over the years. You can make big money, but it will not happen by next week. It took me several years to begin making the big bucks.

Creating a reputation is hard work

You have to have a reputation as a freelancer to get freelance jobs. It’s like your credit score; you have to have credit to get credit to build credit. You have to have writing and have clients to get clients and be able to write. It takes some time and it’s not easy to build a reputation as a freelance writer. You have to have patience and persistence even when you feel like giving up.

It’s hard work

It’s not easy to freelance. You have your life to work around. You have everything going both for and against you at the same time, and it requires serious dedication and commitment. Working from the comfort of your own home is nice, but only if you are able to commit to the work. Sure, doing nothing today to enjoy some time off is tempting, but too many people want to do that too often and it’s not possible. You have to work.

It’s stressful

It’s hard work to build a list of clients and to make steady money. It is stressful. You will, when you begin, find yourself wondering when you will make something, find a client or get your big break. It will happen, I promise, but it might not happen right away. It might take some time, and you might stress. Will you have enough to pay the mortgage this month? Will you be able to do this or that? It’s stressful.

Not everyone succeeds

Everyone thinks that they can be a freelancer, but they can’t. It takes a very dedicated person with serious worth ethic, talent and ability to be able to do something like this, and not everyone has what it takes.

Not having a steady gig is difficult

When I first began freelancing, I had clients here and there. I had work here and there. It’s stressful. When I finally began finding clients that gave me steady work, I became a bit more comfortable. It’s much easier that way, and a lot less stressful to handle. But, again, it does take time.

Some people become upset

I work from home, and not everyone loves that. My own parents tell me I’m being rude when I won’t babysit my brother’s small children all summer when their parents have to work. Well, I work, too, and I do it from home with my own four kids running around. I have to work. I don’t have time for that, or for you to drop by unannounced without warning for a play date. If I don’t work now, I have to work later and I like to plan my workdays around my schedule; not yours.

Saving is more important than ever

You have to save if you’re in this line of work. You never know; and that makes it more important than ever to save. It’s just one of those things that you have to do, and you have to be very, very good about it.

You’re never truly off work

You’re not. I can work ahead for days so that I can lighten my load and have some free time, and I feel like I should be working. I can work my butt off so that I don’t have anything to do on the weekends as far as work is concerned, and I find myself working anyway because I just can’t stop.

The public is hurtful

One of the worst things about freelance writing is the public. No one wants to keep their opinions to themselves, and that’s fine. But few people have perfected the art of actual constructive criticism. Instead, I’ll receive hateful emails telling me I should die, that I’m horrible, that I’m wonderful, that I should call them; I get emails from people who want to know where I live so they can meet me. It’s strange, sometimes creepy and sometimes very hurtful. On a good note, I have very thick skin now.

Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images


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