Debunking 10 Freelancing & Online Job Myths
From an early age, we were taught that the true path to success was securing a good 9-5 job that came complete with benefits, the potential for career growth, and ultimately, a tenured position in the long run (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that). However, with the current mass migration of office jobs to remote work, workers in the Philippines are finding themselves more open to the possibilities of taking online jobs or even freelancing full-time.
And, while I fully support anyone who wants to shift to online work full time or even as a side hustle, I have one piece of advice: you have to be ready for fake assumptions. So, before you embark on your journey in the vast realm of remote jobs and freelancing, make sure that you’re prepared and well-researched. With that said, let’s take a look at the 10 most commonly heard myths around online work and why you shouldn’t believe them from the get-go.
This article was written by Paula Candelaria
1. Higher Salary Than Traditional Jobs
Don’t believe those ads or social media success stories that say that you can earn over PHP 100,000 right off the bat. You have to remember that online jobs and freelancing are as real as a 9 to 5 job. And just like the latter, you have to have to work hard to get to a certain pay grade. You have to build a portfolio, work on getting a good reputation for your name, create a good network, and constantly strive to be better in your chosen field.
To give you a little insight, when I started working as a full-time copywriter, I had a set rate of USD 3/hour or roughly PHP 145. You might think this is a lot, but when you’re faced with a time tracking software that actively monitors your screen like Time Doctor or Hubstaff…well, let’s say it’s a little more than draining to get a full 8 hours of work (breaks are not included, only active working periods). And, there’s also the problem with not having enough tasks to go around. I averaged around maybe USD 300-400/month (approx. PHP 14,000 to 19,000) in my first job.
2. You Only Have to Work A Couple Hours a Day
I find it quite funny when people equate flexible working hours to fewer working hours. As I mentioned before, you’re often subjected to time tracking software that actively monitors your screen to see if you’re really working. This means you’re only really paid for the actual time you spend working.
And, when you take into consideration how much you need to earn to pay your bills and other expenditures…well, let’s say it’ll usually take more hours than you think to get by. In fact, a common joke around freelancers and online job employees are that we escaped the 9-5 jobs only to find ourselves working way beyond 8 hours a day. While this might not be the case all the time, in the beginning, you’re more likely to live this little inside joke more than you think.
I can give one crucial piece of advice: don’t overwork yourself, trying to catch as many hours as you can. Instead, find time to learn new skills or hone your current skill sets to get a higher ROI in the long run.
3. You Can Work In Your Pajamas – ALL THE TIME
OK, I have to say I enjoyed this pajama parade for a while. When I first started, I would often find myself getting up straight from bed to my desk to start working. While this might seem time-efficient initially, the novelty wears off pretty fast….and could likely be the cause of demotivation and laziness after a short while.
While I still enjoy the occasional pajama party workday, I make sure to take a shower, brush my teeth, wear a fresh set of clothes, and take a few minutes to sip my coffee before diving into work. Trust me when I say setting a pre-work routine will get you pretty far when you’re getting ready for a long day of sitting in front of your computer.
4. You Can Work Whenever You Want
While some jobs offer flexible working schedules, there are most likely times when you’ll encounter employers that will require you to work in certain time frames – or even project-based clients that will ask you to get things done with a strict deadline.
And, even if you do get flexible working schedules, it is pertinent that you manage a good discipline for time management. After all, you don’t want to work into the wee hours of the morning just because you wanted to fit in a Netflix marathon or video game session in between your work schedule (no matter how tempting that might sound).
5. There is No Guarantee of Job Security
While yes, this is true in some cases, it really depends on what type of work you’re looking for…or rather how hard you’re willing to work on your skills and portfolio. The only reason why people say freelancing or online jobs aren’t reliable is that they didn’t have the foresight to invest in themselves.
In this line of work, you have to build yourself to match a good reputation, a great work ethic, and even to an extent, a certain level of self-confidence. In addition, you have to know how to market yourself to get clients regularly or secure a long-term job opportunity (and, yes, they do exist). Also, don’t be too harsh on yourself if you can’t get these at the beginning. After all, we all have to start somewhere, and what better way to start than from learning from our failures or rejections.
6. You Never Have to Leave Your Home for Work
I think by now, we’ve all come to realize the mentally draining aspect of working from home. Let’s face it. It’s not easy to enter into “work mode” when you’re a few feet away from your bed or constantly at the mercy of distractions of errands and entertainment.
Pre-pandemic, I often found myself at cafes or rentable office spaces to get away from the distractions of home life (and for the betterment of my mental health). Today, it’s a little different. A little workaround I’ve found is setting profiles in my browser or creating different desktops for work and personal leisure. And, sometimes, I even leave my work to my computer and opt to use my phone on my day-offs.
Although, I do recommend getting friendly with nearby cafes in your home after the pandemic ends. A small tip and occasional friendly conversations can go a long way when you want to stay there for hours with only a single cup of coffee.
7. You Don’t Need A College Degree
The short answer to this is yes. But, on a more complex level, you can’t entirely convince yourself that you can get a good career online without being educated. As a matter of fact, continuous learning is pertinent to this line of work.
The thing with online jobs or freelancing is you never know when your current skill set will be valuable in the long run. And, with the market getting more and more saturated, learning new skills or honing your specialty is a must. Luckily, many great online learning resources are offered for free if you look hard enough. And, if you have the budget, spending a little on curated courses is never a bad option.
8. You Only Need Specialize in One Skill
Out of all the assumptions surrounding freelancing and online jobs, specializing in one skill is the most debatable one. After all, the whole concept of freelancing is to market yourself for a certain skill. However, as I mentioned before, skills in the online world tend to lose value after a while. This is mainly due to easy-to-use platforms that require no training like Canva or AI-backed software. But, this doesn’t mean your skill will completely become obsolete. It just means you have to continue learning and honing your skills to remain relevant or even learning a whole new area of expertise that could be somewhat related to your previous main skill.
And, luckily because of the ever-expanding learning resources found online, you can easily take a few hours a week to learn something new without much cost. Remember never to be complacent and work hard to update your portfolio to the current industry standards continuously.
9. You Don’t Need Social Interaction Skills for Freelancing
A common misnomer with working online is that you don’t have to interact with people or develop social skills. That couldn’t be as far from the truth as it is. In fact, freelancing and online work are all about marketing yourself and leaving good impressions with your clients, bosses, and even co-workers.
While it might be easier than dealing with office talk daily for some (like me), learning how to communicate is essential to promoting yourself. After all, one of the key aspects of thriving in this line of work is networking and marketing – both needing a certain level of social and interactive skills.
10. You Have No Boss
How I wish this were true. But, like all jobs, there are people you have to work for or with. For freelancers, it’s clients, and for online jobs, it’s actual bosses that have to deal with. And, trust me when I say that not all clients or employers are going to give you an easy time.
In fact, one of my first bosses was not only demanding but also mean. He often found ways to shout at me, completely ignoring me in a team setting, or even blaming me for things I didn’t do. Safe to say, I no longer work with him.
On a good note, once you start building a good reputation, network, and portfolio, you’ll have the power to turn down overly demanding clients and employers…or you could choose not to work with them even as you’re starting. After all, no job is worth lowering your self-confidence and self-worth.