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7 Realities You Need to Understand Before Working as a Freelancer

7 Realities You Need to Understand Before Working as a Freelancer

The freelancing industry enables talented and hard-working people to cash in their skills and abilities. Nothing similar to it has ever existed. However, people have many misconceptions about what it really is and how it functions. Some believe that it’s a source of quick and easy cash, while others think of it as if it were a promised land for artists. The only way to truly know what’s going on in the world of freelancing is to experience it first hand, but I believe I can get you a bit closer to the truth.

You Won’t Have One Boss, You’ll Have a Ton of Them

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02 Man

    The first and the most popular misconception is that, as a freelancer, you’re your own boss. Technically, this is true, but in reality you need to answer to each one of your clients, because you have a responsibility to deliver a certain amount of material in a previously set time frame. To be precise, you won’t have one boss, you’ll have a ton of them, and each one will require you to be available 24/7, answer absolutely every email, and make as many corrections as they find necessary. Building a professional relationship with that many different people may be tiring at first, but it will help you develop your people skills. The secret is in being persistent and putting your best effort into satisfying your client.

    You Are in Charge of Your Free Time, of Which There Will Be None

    When you’re a freelance newbie, this part can be particularly overwhelming. Sure, you won’t have to mind the clock (except when it comes to deadlines), and you’ll be able to arrange your tasks however you find suitable, but – and this is one big but – this usually leads to doing no or very little work until you really have to. Once you realize that you can pull an all-nighter only so many times, you will either give up being a freelancer, or your organizational skills will go through an amazing change.

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    You’ll Have a Decent Income, but You Need to Get There

    03 Notebook

      You have probably heard or read about those unbelievable successful freelancers that don’t know what to do with their money anymore. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a lie, because finally consolidating your student loans thanks to freelancing, and making some serious money is possible, but not when you’re a clueless beginner. You should allow for a period of adaptation before your master plan of becoming a millionaire can be set in motion.

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      You Only Need a Website, but It Needs to Be Great

      Another misconception about freelancing is that you only need a website and the offers will come flying in. The first part is true – you do need a website, but it needs to be properly maintained, created according to the latest trends, mobile-friendly and updated regularly. Unless you’re a developer, this is going to cost you. All sorts of new age professions, like making a living out of blogging, seem so simple to learn and easy to do, until you actually start doing them. The success rate of online jobs mostly depends on how much you invest in your portfolio, which obviously requires dedication to passion projects, lots of experience and a desire to grow. The fact that you can direct your career by yourself and develop exactly the way you want is liberating, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work really hard.

      You’ll Do What You Like, but You Won’t Like All of It

      As a freelancer, you can be as selective as you want when it comes to jobs. This obviously means that you can remain strictly in your area of expertise, which is pretty great, but it also means that you will have to deal with a repetitive processes, and similar tasks that simply can’t be avoided. Loving what you do gives you an amazing feeling of fulfillment, but freelancing is based on completing various projects, and all of them have similar stages, so be prepared for a bit of grunt work.

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      You’ll Be a Freelancer, but Also an Accountant, a Lawyer, a Project Manager and a Creative Director

      05 Profit

        Becoming a freelancer differs from everything you did so far. Your job description will include using all your previous knowledge to create some kind of content, but it will also imply that you handle your own transactions, making sure your rights aren’t violated, managing your projects, and being in charge of brainstorming. If you pay attention to unemployment statistics, the fact that one person needs to take on multiple jobs at once during a time when so many can’t even find one may seem daunting, but no one said that freelancing was easy money. Anyway, you better be prepared to do some serious research and expand your knowledge of some areas that you aren’t the least interested in.

        You’ll Be Finally on Your Own, but You’ll Be All Alone

        Being a loner might be fun at first, but once you realize that you didn’t change for the last five days, and that you haven’t talked to a real live person, will come as a shock. When people turn to freelancing, they believe their social life will flourish. We already mentioned how managing your time can be overwhelming at first – have no doubt, it will reflect on the way you spend quality time with your family and friends. Also, that lack of gossiping and annoying colleagues might seem like a great thing at first, but after a while you’ll be surprised with that feeling of nostalgia, which will undoubtedly appear. However, once you get the hang of it and truly start understanding your new job description, I’m sure you’ll get right back on the social track!

        Freelancing comes with many amazing perks, but you’ll encounter more than a few things you didn’t expect. It’s just a matter of practice really – the fact is that you’re changing your lifestyle radically and, consequently, you’ll need time to adopt and accept everything that comes with it. If you don’t give up easily, try really hard to develop your skills and work on your tolerance, you’ll get the hang of it.

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        Last Updated on April 9, 2020

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

        The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

        With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

        5 Types of Leadership Styles

        I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

        The Democratic Style

        The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

        The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

          The Autocratic Style

          The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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          The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

          While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

            The Transformational Style

            Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

            Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

            Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

              The Transactional Style

              Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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              The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

              The Laissez-Faire Style

              The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

              In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

              Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

              You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

              Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

              The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

              Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

              I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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              In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

              What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

              Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

              1. Context Matters

              Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

              2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

              When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

              As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

              “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

              The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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              As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

              When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

              The Way Forward

              To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

              As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

              “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

              The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

              If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

              Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

              Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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