I have a tough question for those of you who dream about building a successful freelance business.
Would you rather know the hard realities of freelancing before you got started or would you rather experience the painful challenges as you go?
When I first started my freelance journey 35 years ago, there was very little to learn from. There was no internet to search and maybe a handful of books at the local library. Finding a proven expert to share any advice was like trying to find a snowball in hell.
So everything I learned came from the School of Hard Knocks.
It took me ten years of struggling before I figured things out and it would've been awesome to have the resources we have available today.
Now there are freelance coaches, freelance courses, freelance books, freelance job websites, and freelance support groups all readily available to guide you on the journey.
But not all resources are created equal. It can also be difficult to know the difference between reality and bullshit.
You deserve the truth. But can you handle it?
Freelancing is very hard work. It takes a lot of time and sacrifice to reach a high level of success. You have to be committed.
Not only that there are also truths you should know. Here are six of them.
You’ll never make a living on freelancing platforms.
Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are nothing more than money grabbing capitalist machines benefiting off your efforts — often at a 20% take. They teach customers to focus on price not value. And much like Google, they play god, only allowing the top earners to be featured.
You’ll have to put in the time to find the perfect clients.
Great clients are harder to find now too. Most people have been trained to choose the lowest bidder and your skills have been commoditized. AI doesn’t help your cause either. So now it’s a race to the bottom except for the best or the lucky.
You’ll have to do the work even when you don’t want to.
Trading your time for dollars can be more lucrative compared to selling passive income products, but you don’t make money when you’re not working. Vacations and time off for fun is hard to come by and calling in sick is not always an option.
You’ll have to endure tough mental health challenges.
Despite all the glorious technology and co-working options at your disposal, there are gonna be days you feel really lonely. This can cause anxiety and depression which sucks. Sometimes you begin talking to plants or the cat just to feel alive.
You’ll need to be ready for market changes or shifts.
The world changes so quickly. Skills that were in demand yesterday are outdated and no longer needed today. Flash websites anyone? Instead of becoming a specialist, you should focus on becoming a generalist. So keep learning and adapting in order to survive.
You’ll want to invest wisely and plan for retirement.
Sorry to say but winning the lottery probably isn’t going to happen for you. Money will come and it will go. Often faster than you expected. This means you have to expect feast or famine because there is always a cycle to life and business. Don’t blow all your income on stupid stuff. You’ll regret it later.
There are many more lessons to be learned about freelancing, but these will be very helpful if you're just starting out.
Now to answer my own question …
Knowing what to expect would’ve been extremely beneficial. It could've prepared me better for what was ahead and saved me years of frustration.
Of course we can’t avoid all the hardships in life, but having some advice in advance would have helped tremendously!
And if I could go back in time, I would do a lot of things differently.
What do you think?