There are some amazing benefits to the digital nomad lifestyle and to freelancing full-time. Becoming your own boss can be incredibly empowering; see you later boring office building! Hello, schedule flexibility. And best of all, goodbye difficult coworkers.
However, as amazing as the gig economy can be, it isn’t without its challenges and misconceptions. In fact, when you become a freelancer, you should prepare yourself for a laundry list of fallacies that your former co-workers, friends, significant other and parents may assume about your new business. Social media influencers don’t do much to dispel these myths, either! Scroll through Instagram or Facebook for just five minutes and chances are you’ll be served an ad for “how to break free from your miserable job and live the digital nomad lifestyle.”
Let’s put some of these myths to rest and uncover the real truth about the life of a freelancer:
Myth #1: The Digital Nomad Lifestyle is an Endless Vacation
If you ask any full-time freelancer, this one is probably the most common misconception about being your own boss. It’s also pretty laughable. Most freelancers end up working more hours when they choose to live the digital nomad lifestyle, not less. This is usually for a few reasons:
- Traveling can be challenging when you’re also trying to hit certain deadlines for your clients. Although you can certainly have more flexibility in your schedule, you are still working, too!
- The thought of not having reliable wireless internet is terrifying. So, chances are, you’re not getting a tan on the beach unless it’s directly next door to your coworking space, your laptop and your computer charger.
- Once you realize that you’re completely in control of how much money you earn, it’s tempting to work more hours to increase your income.
Yes, there’s a great likelihood that with the digital nomad lifestyle you’re able to take more vacation time than you were able to when you were working your 9-5. However, you will not be on vacation 24-7, and you certainly won’t be sipping margaritas on a remote beach unless you’ve figured out a way to connect to WIFI and service your clients from your sandy, suntan lotion-stained computer.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“The digital nomad’s existence of drifting from place to place might sound appealing, but it has some serious problems. In time, these lead many to pull the plug.” (Vagabond Writers).
Myth #2: Your Job is No Longer Stressful or Hard
Oh, how I wish this one were true. Yes, as a freelancer living the digital nomad lifestyle, you have the power to choose who you take on as a client and when. There is a lot to be said for that, it’s an incredible luxury. However, this does not mean, that all of your work-related problems simply disappear. At your former office job, there was probably a difficult coworker or two that you had to deal with on certain projects. In the same vein, as a freelancer, there’s a great chance you’ll wind up having to deal with a difficult client, too. Except this time, there isn’t an HR Department, or your manager, or the VP of your department to pawn Challenging Charley off to.
As a business owner, everything falls on you. Which can be really hard when you’re trying to navigate challenging relationships. The good news? You’ll grow from it in ways you never thought you could. You’ll also learn how to choose clients that are a much better fit for your business in the future.
Committing to the digital nomad lifestyle doesn’t mean your problems disappear. It just means they’ll appear in different forms, and you’ll probably have to handle them differently as a business owner. If you’re new to freelancing and you’ve never managed client relationships before on your own, consider taking an online course on the subject or reading a business book to help you get started.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“You may not have one single boss anymore, but you’ll soon notice that instead you’ll have a handful of mini-bosses – your new clients – each with a very specific idea of how that project should be carried out.” (Career Foundry).
Myth #3: You’re Rolling in the Dough
The good and bad part about being your own boss is that you’re only paid for the work you decide to execute. Want to explore the mountains of Peru for 3 weeks? Go for it! But if you still want to pay your bills, you either need to hustle overtime the weeks leading up to your trip, or start clipping those coupons. Remember, you’re the boss. There’s no one cutting you biweekly checks every month like your old employer. It’s entirely up to you to do all the work. The number of hours you spend working is completely up to you, which is a wonderful, yet challenging thing about freelancing and living the digital nomad lifestyle.
As the authors Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits and Jonas Koffler, wrote in their New York Times bestselling book HUSTLE, “Price is only an issue in the absence of value.” Yes, you can absolutely earn as much money as you decide to earn, provided you find opportunities to do so. As a freelancer, your paycheck reflects your work ethic, the depth of your expertise, the quality of your clients and your understanding of your value in the marketplace. In other words, there are many factors to consider.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“Becoming a freelancer is NOT a quick way to make money. In fact, it’s probably the worst thing to do if that’s what you’re after. Building up a steady stream of clients and a portfolio that makes people sit up takes time – but it’s well worth it for the stable, sustainable career you’ll create in the process” (Wanderful World).
Myth #4: You’ll Work Less Hours with the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
As we’ve mentioned before, this is rarely the case. In fact, you’ll most likely end up working more hours when you become your own boss… a lot more hours. Don’t get discouraged, though! As a new business owner, the digital nomad lifestyle can be tough to navigate. You won’t want to say no to any clients when you’re first building your portfolio, because you’ll need the money. As you build your clientele and your online presence, you’ll begin to have more freedom over who you work with and when. Another thing to keep in mind is that freelancers often work more hours because they absolutely love what they do. And that’s not such a bad thing.
If you’re looking to work less, realize that that’s not always a reality in your first year or so of running your own business. If that’s a huge goal of yours, commit to putting systems in place to work towards being more efficient and implementing better systems in your business.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“Being free costs us money. A LOT OF MONEY. So, no, we are mostly spending 12 hours in front of our laptop screens trying hard to earn a living. At least before we become successful” (Think Maverick).
Myth #5: You Won’t Need to Learn New Skills
Before you cancel your monthly subscriptions to all your online learning hubs, think again. Being your own boss in the digital nomad lifestyle does mean you get to control what types of services you offer. However, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to continuously hone your skills to offer your clients the best services possible. If you begin to slack on your skills, your clients will start looking elsewhere for their projects- that’s the cold hard truth. Never stop getting better at your craft! That’s the secret to success as a freelancer.
Learning new skill-sets and improving your craft is an integral part of being a great freelancer and reaping the rewards of the digital nomad lifestyle. If you’ve become disinterested in the types of services you’re offering your clients, ask yourself, why? Is it because you’re no longer passionate about your field? If so, take a step back and reevaluate your service offerings. Come up with a strategy where you can begin offering more of the things that light you up, and less of the things you dread doing each month.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“As a freelancer, you ALWAYS need to continue to learn if you want to expand your services, increase your marketability and stay on top of what’s going on in your industry” (site point).
Sort the Facts from the Myths to Begin Living a Better Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Living the digital nomad lifestyle means dispelling some major myths about freelancing. There is a good chance that the people in your life just won’t get what exactly it is you do, and how you do it. Once you’re able to navigate between the dream life that social media depicts, and the reality of being your own business owner, you’ll strike a perfect balance in your freelance gig. Although becoming a business owner isn’t just fun and games, it’s the most rewarding venture you’ll ever take on.
Consider an all-in-one, simple project management app to make your freelance business run significantly smoother. After all, the goal is to work smarter not harder, so you’re able to focus on the things you truly love outside of work.