I’ve worked as a freelancer since 2009 now and have run across a ton of mistaken assumptions people have about freelancers who work from home.
I’m the guy people call when they need help MOVING on a weekday because, hey: I’ve got all the time in the world. I make my own schedule, after all. Maybe I’ll have to TiVo some of my favorite soaps, but I can duck out whenever the heck I feel like it, right?
I could, but I’d soon run out of paying clients if I just up and took a day off whenever I felt like it. There are times when even an hour away at the wrong time of day can spell certain disaster if I’m not at the computer working.
Here’s my list of 5 common misconceptions I’ve heard about working from home and freelancing over the years (and no, that’s not me in the pic!)
1. Freelancers can grow their hair out.
Being a freelancer is as much a profession as anything else. Just because I work from home doesn’t mean that I never willingly leave said location. We’re just like the rest of the working world. Freelancers go out to the mall to buy things, shop in the same grocery store as you do. And shockingly, some of us actually go to social functions and let loose at the bar for drink now and again! I’ll admit to growing a bushy mountain man beard for my first couple of years freelancing. Reality set in when I realized teenagers and twenty-somethings were calling me “sir” everywhere I went and decided the long locks on the face just weren’t for me. Freelancers also brush their teeth twice a day and visit the dentist once in a while!
2. Freelancers know all the funny YouTube videos.
Strange assumption, but very true. I’ve lost track of the number of times someone has started cracking off about a funny viral vid they’ve seen recently, or mentioned a website they visit frequently — only to be shocked when I don’t know what the heck they’re talking about. “But you work online!” they say. Surely, I must know every video, website, and obscure forum that exists on the interwebs. I spend my day working on there, after all. Next time you consider that I know every YouTube video backwards and forwards, think about how many channels you don’t watch, even though you’re likely paying a bundle to the cable company for them. Websites? There are over a billion of them. Assuming I know everything that goes on online is like expecting that Mark Cuban knows what each and every one of those billions he has looks like!
3. Freelancers are a bunch of pajama wearing gaming addicts.
Gotta tell ya, I bought a PS4, an extra controller, and a bunch of the kinds of games I like about a year ago — and I’ve only played the darned thing once! I’m actually ashamed to admit how little I’ve played that ridiculously pricey plastic box because of the investment I made in it. Truth is, people who work from home do so for many reasons, probably some actually do it because they want to be close to their gaming rig at all times. I imagine the vast majority do not though…
4. Freelancers have all the time in the world to get things done.
Have you ever promised your boss you’d have something REALLY important finished by the end of the day, but didn’t end up getting it done after all? Did they pat you on the back after you disappointed them and say “Aw, it’s no big deal”? Maybe, but disappoint the wrong boss and you’re likely to catch hell, even get fired on the spot. And, if you’re delayed a second or third time, red flags start to go up inside their head. As a freelancer, I work for multiple people online, and with the exception of a few (like super-awesome Noobpreneur owner, Ivan Widjaya) very few have the patience that most of you working in “the real world” would expect from your employer. Everything in general is a rush order and I often have to say no to clients more than I say yes to keep my workload manageable.
5. Freelancers are weird.
They spend all their time with dogs and cats, rarely shower, and obviously have a screw loose for doing a job with no actual guaranteed paycheck. Well, I’ll admit that it’s definitely an ambitious career choice, and certainly not for everyone. However, the fact that someone chooses to go against the grain when it comes to how they choose to make money is perfectly normal in the digital era. A freelancer does not a weirdo make! Sure, some of those coder-types out there are way too smart for their own good, potentially having a Rain Man complex. But most, including myself are normal, reasonably well-adjusted human beings.
In short, freelancing is just a job like any other. You do work, you get paid, rinse and repeat. Next time you meet one, don’t be afraid to say hi. Most of us are well groomed, cultured, hard working, and about as normal as you can get — in this day and age that is!
Main Image Credit: D Huw Richardson/Flickr