Your job can interfere with your mental and physical health in a number of ways. It can leave you feeling stressed and frustrated after you leave work every day. What’s more, that tedious commute through rush hour traffic can only exacerbate the stress of the day. All that time spent sitting places a lot of pressure on your internal organs, your digestive system and your spine (the central highway of the nervous system). Furthermore, the stress and anxiety caused in your working days can cause a lot of cumulative damage to your body, to say nothing of your mental health, as the years go by.
For some time now, you’ve yearned for a different life. A life that afford you more freedom. A life that gives you total autonomy over your work / life balance and allows you to take on the kind of work that gives you joy and satisfaction, instead of letting your skills atrophy and deteriorate over time. The life of a freelancer can potentially provide you with a happier life with less stress and improved mental health. It can even be more financially lucrative.
Still, there’s something that you feel is holding you back. A nagging doubt that keeps you from taking the plunge. Perhaps you’ve heard or read some of the common misconceptions about the life of a freelancer that offset the potential benefits. Yet, while the life of a freelancer certainly has its stressors and caveats, many of the most popular myths around freelancing are easily debunked. Let’s take a closer look…
You’ll never make as much money as you did in your old job.
Perhaps the most common reason why skilled professionals are reticent to try freelancing is because they’re worried that they couldn’t possibly make the same amount freelancing as they made under their current employer. However, in an era of widespread wage repression– where employers deliberately short change us on pay to inflate their own profit margins, this rarely proves to be the case.
You may need to take the time to establish a solid base of clients, build your own personals brand and learn the subtle art of networking so that you can line up your next project before you finish the one you’re working on. Nonetheless, once you’re established, not only will you likely be able to match your current salary, you may make more than you did under your previous employer.
Being a freelancer means living without income while you establish yourself.
From a position of relative safety and security, it’s easy to see the transition to freelancing as akin to taking a leap off the high diving board into a suspiciously shallow pool. But the assumption that you need to be without income while you establish yourself online and hustle for clients is a tidal fallacy.
There’s no reason why you can’t start building your brand right now. Establish your presence on LinkedIn and other platforms (never underestimate the work that can be found on platforms like Twitter). Put together some samples of your best work which are sure to wow perspective clients. Familiarize yourself with the sites where jobs are posted and applied to. Here are some of the best of 2020– Keep in mind that the right site for you will depend on your specialism.
You can even start taking on a few carefully chosen jobs in your free time. If your work proves high-quality, reliable and on-time you may forge great relationships with clients before you even quit your day job. So you can enjoy a completely seamless transition.
There are some caveats, of course. You’ll have to make sure that you’re working on freelance projects in your free time. If you use company time or resources on work for anyone who isn’t your employer, this may be considered a fireable offence. Furthermore, even though you’re paying tax in your day job, it’s crucial to remember that all work carried out as a freelancer is taxable, even the work you undertake while employed. The last thing you need is for your new freelancing business to be rumbled by the IRS.
You’ll never be able to get a mortgage as a freelancer.
Though many are happy to rent for the rest of their lives, there are also some who need a home of their own. And you may have heard tell that freelancers are not able to get a mortgage by virtue of the fact that their income is sporadic and they have no security. But this is baloney! There are lots of freelancers out there who own their homes. However, being a freelancer does make the application process slightly more complicated.
You’ll need to provide at least 2 years’ worth of books to show your income and expenditure. And remember that a lender will look at your annual profits for these years rather than how much money you’ve earned. So if your business expenses are high in your early years (which they usually are), it may mean that you have to rent for a while to get the mortgage you want on the home of your dreams. In any case, you may find that you have more luck going through a mortgage broker like Altrua. They have great relationships with lenders and can often get you access to better mortgage products than you might be able to get approaching lenders directly.
A client would never hire a freelancer when they can hire a big company.
This really depends on the client. While some of the big money clients may prefer to go through an agency or full-service firm, that’s certainly not to say that those same clients never use freelancers. Indeed, for busy firms, sole-trading freelancers have a number of advantages, They tend to be faster and more responsive and the client only has to deal with one contact- making the whole transaction much quicker and easier.
You’ll pay more taxes as a freelancer.
If somebody told you that you’ll pay more tax as a freelancer, someone lied. If anything, you can expect to pay a little less, especially when you have a lot of business expenses. An accountant will be able to coach you on what does and doesn’t constitute a business expense in your chosen field. Broadly speaking, however, if you can use it for work, it’s tax deductible, and can be written off as a loss so you pay less tax. Just remember to log your receipts and invoices. Use bookkeeping software so that you don’t need to worry about losing receipts or having to trawl through them if you get audited. Don’t worry- there are lots of free accounting platforms which are perfect for small businesses and freelancers.
If you’re a people person, freelancing will be tough on you.
There’s a strange (and persistent) misconception that freelancing is the sole domain of the introvert. And while there are certainly many introverts who are happy to work from home as freelancers and lead happy, insular lives that’s not to say that freelancing can’t be a gratifying and enjoyable career for extroverts.
Successful freelancers make a good living because they’re able to build great relationships with their clients. They attend networking events and meet new people who turn out to be lucrative business contacts. They’re highly active on social media and in real life. So if you’re an extrovert, fear not. You could have a great time working as a freelancer.
Now that you know that some of the most persistent myths about freelancing are just hokum… what’s keeping you from being all that you can be, and going into business for yourself?