Even though more than 17.7 million Americans characterize themselves as freelancers, and experts predict that freelancers will make up 40 percent of the American workforce by 2020, there are still some negative assumptions that follow this categorization of workers. As a freelancer who was formerly a total full-time one-company person, I know I made certain assumptions about freelancers that I now know are utterly untrue. But you quickly realize what people think your daily life is like the minute the words "freelance" come out of your mouth. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions.
1. You do nothing all day
A friend of mine was taking Friday off to go to the DMV in New Jersey in the afternoon, and asked if I wanted to come with. Of course, we all want emotional support at the DMV and in New Jersey in general, but really? Did she think I was just home twiddling my thumbs all day?
I also love (hate) it when my friends ask why I didn't go to a yoga class in the middle of the day instead of after 6 p.m. Yes, you do have more flexibility when you work freelance, but you are still trying to get sh*t done in a timely fashion. According to The Economist, freelancers work longer hours than full-time employees —It comes out to around 6 percent more hours per week.
2. You don't get dressed
This is one of the most common misconceptions. If I am talking with a friend during the day and they know I am working at home, they ask if I am in my pajamas. Now, I am a fan of pajamas as much as the next girl, but a big rule in freelance is that even though you could work in your underwear all day, you shouldn't. You should get up and get dressed as if you were in public. Sure you don't need to wear a suit or high heels, but wearing real clothes will make you feel more productive.
3. You have no money
People in non-creative fields sometimes group anyone doing anything remotely creative or that doesn't require you to be in an office 40 hours per week in the "starving artist" category. I was telling a lawyer and finance couple about how sometimes companies are slow to pay freelancers, and they literally looked at me like I was Fontine in Les Miserables and had just sold my hair and teeth to make rent. Yes, sometimes there are dry spells and you may have to live paycheck to paycheck, but that happens to full-time employed people too. There is a reason many professionals do go freelance and it is because it is possible to make more money than if you are full-time at one company.
4. You are Carrie Bradshaw
Maybe this happens more to New York freelancers who are women, but I have gotten more "Oh my gosh! You are Carrie Bradshaw" in the past year than I ever did before. I don't really write about sex and I look way more like a Charlotte but yes, I do work from home a lot and I have a Mac laptop, so basically we are the same, right? Nope — that is pretty much all we have in common. She wrote one article a week whilst I write so much I sometimes don't have time to eat. And if I ever tried to run in heels, it would just be bad for everyone involved. And though we probably use our kitchens the same amount, you are far more likely to see me at Chipotle than at a bar sipping a Cosmo.
5. You watch TV all day
To be honest I did think I would be able to do work from home with the TV on in the background, but I soon realized that wasn't going to work. I didn't even let myself watch the live Olympics! For lunch, I may watch a quick rerun, but then it is right back to work.
6. You sleep until noon
I may not have to be at a certain place at a certain time, but I do have a number of projects I have to complete on not a weekly or daily basis. If I don't get up early then you can bet I will be staying up late until I get everything done.
7. You have no stress
Yes, freelancing has some major perks like you are your own boss except that's just it: YOU ARE YOUR OWN BOSS. You are responsible for every cent you make (there are no paid vacation or sick days in freelance life), your taxes, every client interaction, and every negotiation. So it may be a different kind of stress than you get from commuting and the 9 to 5 grind and competitive colleagues and tough hands-on managers, but stress is very much there. And it won't disappear even if you are wearing sweat pants.
Images: HBO; Giphy