The Questions ALL Freelancers Hate

By Mel Sim

So don’t ask them, OK?

I’ve been a freelancer for more than 10 years, and even today, I still get asked a lot of questions that make me go hmmmm. I get it – it’s hard sometimes to understand why someone would give up a job with regular income for something that’s unpredictable like freelance writing and editing. Of course, my parents were the first to bombard me with questions when I told them I wanted to go freelance; luckily, they have gotten around the idea of my unconventional work and realise that I am actually making a decent living doing this. Who said you need to be in an office environment to have a career, right?

Whenever I meet someone new or even if they’ve known me for a while, I still get asked these frustrating questions or have to put up with some exasperating things. I present to you the things freelancers are tired of hearing.

#1 When are you going to get a real job?
Uhm, hello – I’ve been working at this real job for more than 10 years now? My job as a freelancer may not be your norm but I get paid using my skills, effort and time – sounds like a job to me! It may not involve me going to an actual office Monday to Friday but I assure you that I am working every single day and sometimes even longer than your 9-to-5.

#2 You actually get paid doing that?
What I do is provide a service (in this case, it’s writing and editing). All services rendered need to be paid – like how you pay for the food that’s been served to you. With more gig roles now like delivery guys and GoGetters on top of new digital jobs like YouTuber and influencer, it can be difficult to understand how someone can make a living doing that but so long as a service is provided, it gets paid. Just like how you provide a service at the office and get paid your salary.

#3 I bet you work in your pyjamas all day
I bet you I don’t! Being a freelancer doesn’t equate to being a lounger. I do everything all 9-to-5-ers do – get out of bed at 7am, get ready for the day, have breakfast and then it’s work time! I have to add though: It’s nice not to have to wear office attire Monday to Friday, and OK, there are days when I’m just in my T-shirt and shorts (my version of casual Fridays).

#4 Wow, must be nice…
To be your own boss. To sit in a coffee shop for hours on your laptop. To not have to commute to work. To do your own things. Sure, there are perks being a freelancer but it is not like there aren’t any challenges at all. Freelancers don’t get medical insurance nor do they get paid EPF. So it’s up to us to take up these initiatives to protect our future. It’s nice to be your own boss but it’s also scary when work is slow. Pros and cons, guys. But you make the best out of the situation.

#5 Hey, I need a favour. You’re not working, right?
I used to get this a lot – whether from friends, siblings or my parents who ask for favours. It’s fine once in a while but when it gets to a point where other people don’t respect my time, not cool. I set my own hours so I can easily schedule your errand in as well. But I also have my errands to run and deadlines to meet. It’s nice to be able to go to the mall when there isn’t a crowd during the weekday. It’s awesome to see the doctor or dentist without having to fight for a spot. But even though my work times aren’t fixed, my deadlines unfortunately are and I will need to adjust my schedule so I meet them, and sometimes this means working late at night.

#6 You’re not worried about your future?
Is your job really secure? What if one day your company goes bust? Freelancer or not – everyone has the same job insecurities. I may not have to deal with office politics but I do have recurring nightmares of not getting enough work to cover me for the month (or year). Which is why as a freelancer, I don’t take anything for granted. I cover my bases by having a solid retirement plan and save for the future. So yes, I am worried about my future but you know what, so should you which is why you too need a solid financial plan.

#7 Hey, maybe I can do what you do! Pass me some work.
Maybe you can… but I don’t really feel like sharing my workload also known as my livelihood with you. I was actually asked this by someone who wanted to be a freelancer writer as well; to pass on the work that I didn’t want to do so she can get a foot into the freelancing scene. How about working as hard as I did when I first started to get my name out there? And really, it’s an insult to say that to a freelancer who’s worked really hard at her craft and earn a living through it.

#8 Can you do this for free/cheaper? It’s not difficult to do.
Would you settle for less money this month just because you didn’t do really much at the office? Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, there are a lot of clients out there who think that just because you can get their work done in an hour, you should therefore not be paid that much. Fact: The reason why the work can done in a hour is because the freelancer has worked really hard to be good at what they are doing which is why it won’t take as long as a novice would. And you’re paying for their expertise, not just the time spent!

And one more thing I roll my eye at? “Give me a friend discount! We’ve known each other for long!” How about I buy you a cup of coffee with the full price you pay me?

Are you a freelancer? What are some of the annoying questions you get? Tweet us at @graduan

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio and cottonbro on Pexels.

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