Freelancing Misconceptions Designers Get Wrong

Freelance Design is a double-edged sword. On one side, you have the ability to control your destiny, so to speak. You are the king or queen of your castle to some extent. On the other hand, in-house designers get a steady paycheck and benefits. They have shared responsibility, so the world is not necessarily on their shoulders. Many in-house designers want to make the jump from their day jobs, to freelancing, but many have misconceptions about how it really works. Let’s take a look at some common freelancing misconceptions.

Common freelancing misconceptions

You Get to do What You Want All Day

Many people think that freelance designers get to sit in their underwear all day behind a computer. When they don’t feel like working, they can just hop in their car and take the day off. This is a common misconception, and the reality is that you might do this in a blue moon. However, most days, you are meeting with clients, coordinating schedules, creating content, coming up with design projects, and giving presentations.

You’ll Hardly Work At All

This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you work for yourself, you’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked before. It’s just you out there, and you have far more riding on whether or not you succeed. If you’re dedicated, you’ll work long hours, working on a variety of things, not just design. You’ll be creating promotional pieces for yourself, writing blog posts to drive traffic to your own site, keeping up with business expenses, sending out bills and invoices, and running all sorts of errands.

Everything Will Be Easy Because You Can Do It Your Way

No matter how much you plan, no matter how much you try, nothing will ever be that easy. If you ever hear yourself say, as you’re leaning back in your office chair, putting your hands behind your head “Well, that was easy” that’s a huge red flag! Mayday Mayday! You need to revisit things and make sure you’re not overlooking something important.

Also, you won’t always be able to do things your way. Clients can be demanding, meticulous, and so scrutinizing you’ll want to bay at the moon like a coyote. At the end of the day, clients pay your bills, and some of them have specific preferences on how things are done.

You Won’t Have Steady Pay

You Won’t Have Steady Pay

That’s not true! One of the main things you should be striving for is a number of regularly paying retainer clients. These clients will pay you monthly for services, such as website maintenance, consulting, and more. You need these types of clients to get away from the fluctuating paychecks. I like knowing where my money is coming from ahead of time, leaving space to work in new, one time clients for some bigger paydays.

You’ll Be Able to Charge Whatever You Want

Yikes! You can charge what you’re worth, but a big freelancing misconception is that the sky is the limit. That’s just not true! You’ll need to assess the competition, as well as the going rate for the types of services you provide. In New York, you might be able to charge $250 per hour, and some big clients may pay it, but if you’re in a smaller city or a more rural area, you’ll have to scale it back a bit. Okay, you’ll need to slice a big chunk away. Charge what you’re worth, but stay competitive!

You Can Dress However You Want

It may be true when you’re working from home, but be careful. If you sit on your couch and work, and you’re in fluffy sweatpants and a sweatshirt and you get too warm and comfy, you’ll sleep through some of your workday. It’s still work, so treat it like it. Also, when you meet clients, dress to impress. First impressions are everything. You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.

You Can Work Whenever You Want

Nice try, but you’ll work until you meet your deadlines. Those deadlines will tell you when and how long you’ll work. This is especially true if you wait until the last minute. Procrastination will have you up working all night. As long as you set reasonable deadlines, and you stay on top of your work, you can at least make sure that you work reasonable hours.

It may be true that you can work day or night, or both, but sooner or later it will catch up to you. You have to worry about your health, and you have to maintain healthy habits.


It’s easy to have a “the grass is greener” point of view with your career, but it’s also important to know the facts and to know how things really are. When it boils down to it, you can do whatever you set your mind to. It’s just important to stay informed. Are you a freelancer? If so, what freelancing misconceptions did you have before you got started?

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