7 Honest Things I’ve Learned About Being a Freelancer



I am three months into being a freelancer and finally starting to get used to it (more on that below), so I figured it was time for an update! If you missed my post I Quit My Job, I quit my job to become a freelancer, and things got a little crazy. I would really encourage you to read that post before continuing on this post because I’m not a typical freelancer. It explains why I’m actually not a full-time freelancer like I wanted and how I got all of my freelance work through my blog without actually being a full-time blogger.

So after reading I Quit My Job, you’ll know that I’m actually still working at the job that I quit. I told you things got crazy! I am still going there twice a week, and I’m also a freelancer at home every day of the week (including weekends, which I’ll explain). This post is just going to be about my freelancing work since nothing really exciting is going on at the office I work in.

Freelancing has been going well and I do love it, but it’s not just sitting on the couch in my pajamas watching Netflix all day (though I do wear comfy gym clothes most days). Some aspects of freelancing I love, and other aspects were unexpected and have taken some getting used to. After I quit my job, so many people wrote me words of encouragement (thank you, everyone!!), and a lot of people have said they wished they had my lifestyle. It is pretty great, but I just want to be honest about everything going on because I know the life of a freelancer isn’t for everyone. Here are seven honest things I’ve learned after being a freelancer for a short time, and if you’re interested in being a freelancer, feel free to ask me questions about any other topics you have! 🙂

7 Honest Things I've Learned About Being a Freelancer

It was a bigger adjustment than I expected

I knew I was going to have to change my schedule once I was a freelancer, but I wasn’t expecting to take so long to adjust and feel comfortable with my new schedule. I went from working 8 hours a day in an office with a structure and schedule (plus commuting at least half an hour each way) to being able to sit on my couch all day with no human interaction (I love being able to spend more time with Annika, but she can’t exactly hold a conversation with me). I am enjoying it, but it took a few months for me to be comfortable with my new schedule and make sure I was staying on top of everything, especially because I like working in the morning but for one of my jobs, I don’t get the things I need until the afternoon. I also had to adjust my life schedule, like the times that I exercise and eat and walk Annika.

Once I had my schedule all worked out, one of the companies asked me to almost double my hours for them! I love the work that I’m doing with them, but it meant another schedule to get used to and more hours of work. I have a routine down now that I’m comfortable with, but if you’re thinking of going into the freelance world, just be prepared to be flexible and change your schedule when needed.

Tips for becoming a freelancer

I’m making more money, but I’m working more hours

On a typical week, I work between 50 and 60 hours (including the hours I do in the office). It isn’t outrageous, but it is more than the 40 I was used to. This also means working some on the weekends, which I usually don’t mind (#introvert), but I know many people wouldn’t enjoy it. I am making more money than I was at my full-time office job, so I can’t complain about that!

If I don’t work, I don’t get paid

I am making more money, but since I’m getting paid by the hour for most of my jobs, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I don’t get PTO or lunch breaks included in my day, and I don’t get paid holidays and vacations. I worked full time while I was on my recent two week vacation, and I was even asked to work some on Labor Day. I don’t think anyone likes to work on vacation, but this did prove to me that I can work while I travel, so I’m hoping to be able to plan more travels in the future! (I do plan on taking time off for a vacation in the future, but since I had just started freelancing, I couldn’t afford to go two weeks without pay)

Also, I’m lucky because I have consistent freelance work with the same companies week after week, so my income is pretty steady. I know many freelancers might make a ton of money one week and next to nothing the following week, so if you’re looking to join the freelancing world, be aware of what financial situation you might be in depending on the work you get.

Tips for becoming a freelancer

Photo from My Exciting Upcoming Travels!

I love the flexibility and freedom

I know some people can’t work if they don’t have schedules and set tasks, and it did take me a little while to get used to it, but I love the flexibility! I can take Annika to Rittenhouse Square and read for an hour on a nice day, I can go grocery shopping whenever I want, I can schedule photoshoots in the middle of the day, or I can work at cute coffee shops for hours. Once I got used to my schedule, I even started volunteering at the American Swedish Historical Museum a few hours a week! (I absolutely love it and I’ll give you guys more updates about that soon). I do have to do more work in the evenings or on weekends to make sure I get all my work done, but as long as I’m getting it done and doing it well, I can be more flexible with my days.

I especially appreciate the flexibility with traveling. You guys may have read in last week’s post that I was raised in Washington, D.C., then lived in North Carolina, and then my parents and some of my siblings moved to Florida soon after I moved to Philadelphia. I still have friends and family in all those places, plus my older brother lives in Boston now, so I travel everywhere frequently. Since I’m doing freelance and can work anywhere, I can visit for longer than a weekend and not have to worry about using up vacation days.

Fort Myers, FL

Fort Myers, Florida

Impostor syndrome is real

I’m 24 years old and I have clients. I’ve had conference calls with people twice my age and I tell them what they’re doing wrong and how to change it. It feels weird. I’ve gotten more used to it, but there are some days where I question if I know what I’m doing or if I’m the right person for the job. But then I see my changes and ideas helping companies, and I feel validated. So if you have impostor syndrome, know you’re not alone and try to find ways to see how your expertise is helping!

Tips for becoming a freelancer

Taxes terrify me

I keep track of all my expenses and income, and I can already see how crazy my taxes are going to be. I’m going to try to stay on top of paying quarterly taxes, but the business expenses and everything else confuse me. If anyone in Philadelphia knows of a good accountant for a newbie freelancer, send them my way! I’m going to need all the help I can get.

I do have bad days

Being a freelancer isn’t much different than having an office job. Some days I feel incredibly productive and on top of things, and other days, repetitive tasks zap my creativity. But the great thing about being a freelancer is I can step away from my laptop and get some energy out by cleaning my apartment or taking Annika for a walk.

Siberian Husky

My trusty freelance sidekick!

So there you have it, my honest opinion about being a freelancer! 🙂 I do love it and I’m way less stressed out than I was before I quit my job, but I didn’t want anyone to jump into the freelancing world without knowing more about it. And of course, not every freelance job is going to be like my experience, so if you are interested in becoming a freelancer, be sure to check out other freelancers’ experiences (my personal favorites are Jessica Lawlor and Kayla Hollatz). Let me know if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more updates about my life as a freelancer! 🙂

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Blog, Freelancing

  1. There’s always something to do when you work at home/for yourself, huh? It’s amazing how much work goes into writing and blogging.

    I was also scared of making a tax mistake, so I hired H&R Block and it was worth the peace of mind for me.

    Your honesty is refreshing!

  2. Rose says:

    Good information. I really appreciate you sharing the good and bad. Very helpful.

  3. Lexi says:

    Thanks for the honesty! I can totally relate as a freelancer who just decided to leave my 9-5 behind and move to Rome. Good and bad, definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made.

  4. Andi says:

    Thanks for the insight. I want to one day freelance and I love peeking into other people’s lives of those who are doing it now. Good luck with the adjustment and making it work, I know it is challenging but you look like you are approaching it very seriously!

  5. Well done for biting the bullet and going freelance – many people will put this off for a long time. I found your honesty and frankness encouraging. I am a teacher, but also an artist and I always go back to teaching because the money is safe – maybe I will give my ‘creative’ work a chance 🙂

  6. amit says:

    This post has come just at the right time, I’m looking to get into freelancing work soon, I am aware of the hours I would need to put in but for me the biggest concern is the balance between my job, freelancing and traveling once I start traveling again (in the next 3-6 months) I’m a long-term traveler and I’m home just replenishing my initial funds but once I’m on the road I’m looking at freelancing to keep me going – was it hard to break into in the first instance ?

    • Julia says:

      Good luck with your freelance work! It did take me a little while to find my freelancing work, and I waited until I had some lined up before I quit my day job.

  7. Noel says:

    Is your freelancing job in the field of consultancy?

    Anyways, I agree with you. Freelancing is a multi-headed beast and if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Plus you’ll have to do all the accountings and you don’t have an insirance plan unless you acquire for your own. But at the end of it all, it’s good to be working only for yourself and the things you love the most.

    Best of luck!

  8. Fida says:

    I can relate. Thank you.

  9. Staci says:

    What a great post! I would love to have that kind of schedule with my current job. It’s honestly not a full time position anymore since I’ve automated so many things…maybe one day. This is very encouraging, great post Julia!

  10. Lena says:

    I loved this honest post and I love following along on your adventures. Congrats on this new phase of your career! I can totally relate to imposter syndrome, I think all of us in this field can. Also, I would love the flexibility that freelancing involves. I work best when I have full freedom. Would love to hear more and maybe a day in the life!

  11. Tonya says:

    This is great! I totally get what you are talking about.
    I hired Marcie from ARJ Business Solutions to help me with all things accounting and taxes. She’s in NJ, but has clients all over the country.

  12. Carole Thomas says:

    Julia, this was a very informative blog. I am excited for you regarding your new adventures.

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