I Thought Freelance Web Design Was a Dream Job - I Was Wrong

Cheney Meaghan Giordano


A little over five years ago I left my last full-time job to become a freelance web designer and consultant.

In the beginning, things went great.

I was addicted to the hustle and was able to find a number of good jobs that paid well and weren’t soul-sucking in any way my former “real” jobs had been.

But, all throughout my time as a freelance designer I was also working on my real passion — writing.

I was writing drafts of novels, writing on Medium, trying desperately to edit one or two of those novels into publishing material, and the more time that went by the more I realized that writing was my passion, and freelancing was starting to suck.

It's hard to make things work when you aren't passionate about them, and though I tried to power through and continue on a path I had carved out for myself after a lot of hard work, eventually I moved on to other things.

Here's why:

I’m not cut out for the hustle.

The hardest part of being a freelancer, for me, was the hustle for new work.

I hate selling myself to people, and when you’re a freelancer, you’re most often dealing with people who want to pay you far less than what you are actually worth.

I found it really started to eat away at my self-esteem to know how much I had to offer and see how little people were willing to pay for it.

And it never got better, only harder.

As time went by and I was unable to get enough jobs to sustain myself, I had to move back in with my parents because I was no longer able to support myself on my own, but I still wasn’t ready to give up on my dream of being my own boss.

Not having the pressure to hustle made it even harder, and my work dwindled to just one monthly contract that barely covers my bills.

As much as I hated to do it, I was forced to admit to myself that the real reason I wasn’t hustling harder was simply that I didn’t want to, for so many reasons I hadn’t considered when I began freelancing.

I hate working with clients.

When I started freelancing, I thought it would be great to work with new people on exciting new projects all the time — but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It turned out, for me, that the worst part of freelancing was interacting with clients.

As a professional, you are often working with people who have no idea what it is you actually do or how you do it, but that doesn’t stop them from telling you what to do and how they want you to do it.

The frustration that this sort of communication leads to is excruciating for me.

I actually let go of one of my first clients when they wanted me to continue work on a different project because they were just not willing to listen to my advice and expertise, which was causing me more work to do that, of course, they weren’t willing to pay for.

I suck at time management.

Being your own boss means that there is no one around to tell you what to do and when to do it, and that can be really hard when you suck at time management as I do.

I found myself procrastinating on things I didn’t want to do to the point I would be stressed out and staying up all night to try to finish something on time, often with sub-par results.

That was one of the biggest clues I had that I should stop freelancing — I could barely make myself make the time to do what I had to do, and would do anything else to avoid the work I had signed up for.

Furthermore, I am terrible at things like keeping my books and invoices in order, and often would get paid late because of my own fault of sending an invoice late.

When you’re your own boss, you have to put all of your productivity and time management into your own hands, and that’s exceptionally hard to do when you don’t want to do it at all.

Web design is not my passion.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved designing websites, and I will do it for fun on my own forever, but I am done hustling to seek out more jobs.

When you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, especially when you are working for yourself, I think you’re eventually bound to fail.

Doing something you hate doing over and over again is unsustainable, and really, it’s no way to live.

Lately, I’ve been doubling down on my passion for writing, and now I’m going to school for phlebotomy, something I’ve always been fascinated with and wanted to learn.

Ultimately, I just want to help people.

Whether it be through writing articles and books that give people hope or help them feel less alone, or through helping people in a healthcare setting, I think it will be so much more satisfying than slogging through a web design that I didn’t want to do in the first place.

I don’t feel any purpose as a web designer.

I know that I am helping people get what they need, but at what cost to me?

In the end, they take what they want, give me less than I feel I deserve, and then I am back to the square one hustle, which is the exact last place I want to be.

This has been quite an adventure, but I think my freelancing days are coming to an end, and although I’m glad I gave myself the chance to try, it’s time to try something new.

Letting go of the freedom of working from home is going to be really hard, but it seems like it’s the price I need to pay right now to find purpose and satisfaction in my life, and to me, that’s more important than anything.

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I write about parenting, family, relationships, education, disability, mental health, and a whole lot about writing.

Salem, CT

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