Freelancing sounds like an exciting alternative to full-time employment.
Whilst "freelancing" doesn't define any one way of working, it often conjures up an idea of a person working with multiple clients at once, on projects they're a deep specialist in, often on a schedule which they define, and no shortage of posts on LinkedIn suggest that working for yourself is a road to fewer hours, bigger paychecks and projects you're passionate about. There are also lots of doomsayers about freelancing - that there's no security, its isolating, its competitive, and you'll endlessly be chasing invoices.
In this series of articles, we're going to try and bust some of the myths around freelancing, so you're better prepared for what the reality is actually like.
One of the most common reasons for moving to self-employment is control over the hours you work. Whilst employers have been increasingly embracing flexible working hours, the reality is still that most jobs will expect you to put in the time - and if Elon has anything to do with it, some employers will start swinging the pendulum back to an expectation of time in the office tied to your performance.
For many, that's not a model that works - perhaps you're a carer or parent, perhaps you don't have the energy to do the 8 hour day, perhaps you recognise the volumes of data that productivity is rarely effective for 8 hours a day for 5 days a week, perhaps you want to only work a few days a week, and balance other things that are happening in your life.
Reading the front cover of books like "The Four Hour Work Week" or no shortage of headlines around side hustles and passive income, you'd be forgiven for thinking that freelancing might be the 'easier' option.
Or you might have read countless articles about freelancers not being able to manage their own boundaries, not being able to switch off on weekends, not being able to take holidays or time off, and being 'always on'.
In reality - you do have the choice to work as few or as many hours as you wish, but - if you're busy, you might need to do longer hours; if you're not busy, you might need to put extra time in to find additional work; or if you don't have any work on at the moment, you don't really have a choice of not doing fewer hours work, if there's no work to be done!
Our data year on year shows that the vast majority of our community are committing five days a week to freelancing, and on average, working a slightly shorter 6-hour day. However, there's quite a variation in working patterns - lots of people are only freelancing a couple of days a week, perhaps alongside other work; lots of people are working four-day-weeks; and an non-insignificant number are working more than 5 days a week, extending their work into weekends. A good proportion of people also report that their working weeks are so variable, it's hard to say how much they work on average.
Whether you're able to work fewer hours can often come down to affordability - if you can cover your costs in fewer hours, you're able to work fewer hours. From a mental health perspective, many people find themselves working shorter days, and taking breaks between projects, to ensure they're getting rest - and indeed, it can often feel like during a project you might be working longer hours, but then having periods of very little (as we touch upon in our 'feast or famine' myth).
In summary, you can work fewer hours, and in the main, if you can afford to, you're in control over hour many hours you work, but being able to afford to work fewer hours often means putting in the hours at some point to build up your experience and working practise. The more senior and experienced freelancers may find it easier than those starting out.
You can work fewer hours, although most of us tend to work a fairly classic five days a week, 6 hours a day model, with increasing numbers of people on four-day weeks - which is mirroring the shifts in many employed roles. However, your ability to work less is more often based upon affordability and availability of work.
But don't just take our word for it!
One of the most valuable things to do before going freelance is chatting with as many other freelancers as possible, to get their experiences of things. Join some freelance communities, find others in your sector, or use our AskAnything page to bust the myths for yourself too!