Colleagues and even acquaintances would comment on how my skills were perfect for becoming a freelancer and still I hesitated. I just “knew” something major and bad would happen if I left my comfortable corporate job for the uncertainty of freelancing.
Well, it turns out that I was wrong about something bad happening. I’ve been freelancing for over nine years now. Most of my biggest fears never came true at all.
In case your fears are keeping you from taking that next step, I’m sharing them here in this post.
What I Was Afraid Of
In no particular order, these were my twelve biggest fears:
- Fear of never having work. One of my biggest fears that I had before becoming a freelancer was that I would never get a client. Since I had mostly worked in a traditional environment, I think this is a natural fear. However, there is work out there if you look for it.
- Fear of not being good enough. Another fear that nearly kept me from freelancing was the fear that I might not be talented or skilled enough to make it on my own. Even though I’d always received positive feedback on my writing, I was afraid that it wasn’t good enough.
- Fear of being scammed. You’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve heard the horror stories. There are scammers out there and some of them prey on freelancers. However, if you do your homework about each new client you can greatly minimize your chance of being scammed.
- Fear of losing my identity. I once knew someone whose identity was stolen. It took her several years to fully recover. One of my early fears was providing too much information. However, if you’re selective about who you provide personal information to, odds are that you’ll be okay.
- Fear of being ridiculed. Being publicly ridiculed would be even worse than not being good enough. Nobody wants public humiliation. Fortunately, while I’ve faced a few comment trolls–most people online aren’t out to ridicule you (especially if you conduct yourself in a professional fashion).
- Fear of loneliness. Perhaps the biggest fear that didn’t come true was the fear of loneliness. I was used to the office camaraderie and regular lunches with colleagues. I thought I would be really lonely on my own. However, I schedule regular face-to-face lunches with friends and stay active in social media, so loneliness isn’t the problem I thought it would be.
- Fear of ruining my career. I was worried that a stint as a (possibly unsuccessful) freelancer would ruin my career. I need not have worried so much. First of all, I wasn’t unsuccessful. Secondly, freelancing is becoming more and more common. It’s not at all unusual for someone to move from freelancing to a corporate job and back.
- Fear of dealing with angry clients. I hate confrontations. Again, I’d read about freelancers facing unreasonable and angry clients and had no wish to experience that firsthand. Fortunately, all of my clients have been reasonable. Doing a little homework upfront about your clients can pay off.
- Fear of not being paid. Okay, this one did happen in a very small way. After doing business with a client for about seven years, their business finally failed and I didn’t get the last pay that they owed me. But, overall, most clients do pay for my work. (Charging a percentage upfront doesn’t hurt either.)
- Fear of working for peanuts. Another fear that I had was that I would only be able to find jobs that paid (gasp!) even less than minimum wage. That would certainly be the equivalent of freelancing failure. Although, I’ve had my share of low-paying gigs, fortunately I’ve usually been able to command a decent rate.
- Fear of having to work 24/7. One of the reasons that I was drawn to freelancing in the first place was to have control over my own workload. What if, somehow, I underestimated my projects and wound up working around the clock all the time? While I have done some overtime, overall my hours as a freelancer have been reasonable.
- Fear of being thought of as a failure. No one wants friends and family to think that they’re a failure and I’m no exception. At first, my friends and family didn’t actually understand what I was doing. A few even tried to “help” me find a corporate job again. Gradually, however, acceptance has come.
What fears did you have before you went freelance?
Are you thinking about becoming a freelancer right now? What fears do you have?
Share your answers in the comments.
Image by chad_k