The life of a freelancer is an attractive one.
There’s no dressing up for work. You don’t have to suffer the pains of the daily commute. And you don’t have to listen to a boss telling you what to do and when to do it.
If you have ever considered working as a freelancer, then we wholeheartedly recommend it, especially if you’re sick and tired of the 9 to 5 treadmill.
Still, if you are opting for a freelancer career, in whatever role befitting of your skills and interests, it’s important to know that the journey ahead is not a smooth one. This will be of no surprise to you if you’re freelancing already, but if you’re currently gearing up for the possibility, then it’s in your best interests to know the possible bumps on the road ahead of you.
In this article, we are going to list just a few. We are also going to offer you a few suggestions, so if the figurative bumps put you off freelancing, you might be persuaded to think again with the tips we give you.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the bumps ahead.
#1: Distractions in your home environment
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You can have a fantastic work-life balance as a freelancer, and this is largely because you will spend much of your time working from home. You can get out of bed when you want. You can work in your Pj’s if you’re not expecting any visitors. And you don’t have to travel to and from your working destination (other than a possible trek up and down the stairs).
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
When you’re working from home, you might be faced with a range of distractions, and these can include the lure of a longer morning in bed, the interruptions of your family or housemates, and such things as your television or Facebook account. Any one of these can hinder your working day, and as a freelancer, you need to take steps to deal with them.
On the one hand, you will need to have willpower. Knowing that you have potential deadlines to meet and an income to bring in, you might resist the lure of an extra hour in bed or an extended break with the TV. You will also need to remind others that you are working, so boundaries will have to be set with the people who live with you.
Of course, if working from home proves too difficult for you, then it makes sense to consider other options. You could rent or buy private office space, work from your local library or cafe, or base yourself in any co-working venue that is available in your area.
After following these simple suggestions, you might face less hindrances during the day.
#2: Financial stresses
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Sorry to say it, but unless you’re already in a wealthy position, you might find yourself with the occasional financial stresses in your freelancing career.
For starters, you have to be proactive in finding work. If you don’t find a paying client, then you aren’t going to generate any income. Of course, finding a client might not be too much of a problem for you, but if they are late in their payments to you, then you are going to struggle to pay your bills and other expenses.
You also have your taxes to consider too. As you aren’t working for an employer, you will have to budget for your taxes. If you don’t, you are going to find yourself in a tricky financial position once tax season rolls around.
And then there are those days when you simply can’t work. It might be that your laptop has gone on the blink. You might be sick and laid up in bed. And there could be other life issues that you need to deal with. These forced days off could lead you into financial jeopardy if they become a regular occurrence.
So, here’s what you need to do.
Don’t rely on the clients you have already obtained. Market yourself often, as you will then have a steady stream of work coming in. While you don’t want to take on too many clients, of course, you still need enough to generate a regular income. To make room for better-paying clients, it might be that you cease company with anybody who underpays or fails to pay you on time.
And talking about clients who don’t pay on time, consider drawing up a contract with them. This will give you a level of legal protection should outstanding payments become an issue. You might also ask for some money upfront, as this might negate any losses you might incur through a late payment.
You should also make an effort to save money. So, if you do find yourself unable to work, or if you do go through a lean period, you will still have a reserve of cash to see you through. You will also have money to cover your tax bill. Our financial advice might be useful to you, so read the linked article, and use the ideas within to make savings within your freelance business.
And finally, you might want to consider the occasional side-hustle. So, while your freelancing income will be your focus, you might want to find ways to make money in other ways when you are dependant on the cash injection. Check out the following linked ideas for a lucrative side-hustle, and consider any that are suited to your personal situation.
#3: A poor work-life balance
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What??? Surely a freelance career is supposed to give you a better work-life balance! Well, yes, as we suggested to you earlier. However, there might be times when this is severely lacking in your life.
When you have deadlines to meet, you might be forced to work late into the night.
And when you’re at home, you might be tempted to look at your work emails and anything else pertaining to your career if they’re within easy access.
So, while you will have a better work-life balance when you’re not having to ‘work for the man,’ there will be times when your life doesn’t reach this much-hoped-for ideal.
Thankfully, you can overcome this bump, but the onus is on you to hurdle it.
You need to be productive during your allotted work hours, as you won’t then have to face the rigours of working late into the night if you can complete your work during the day. Going back to a previous point we made, this might mean overcoming those distractions that might limit your capacity to work.
As we also suggested, don’t take on more clients than you can handle. While you will want to make as much money as possible, you aren’t doing your clients or your work-life balance any favors if you take on too much. The quality of your work will suffer, and this could result in you losing clients if they aren’t happy with what you have produced. And your health will suffer too, and this will have a knock-on effect on your productivity. Be mindful then, and know your limits!
And finally, switch your work phone off and lock any other evidence of work away. This way, you won’t be tempted to think about your freelance career in your downtime, and you will have more time to concentrate on your family, friends, and hobbies.
#4: A lack of talent
We’re sure you’re very talented in some areas, especially within the crux of your freelancing idea. But do you know how to manage your accounts effectively? Would you know what to do if your laptop ceased to work? Do you know the first thing about marketing? Are your people skills up to par?
Despite your core strengths, there could be some areas that you are weak in. Unfortunately, you will need to deal with some of these, especially within those facets of business that we just listed.
To overcome your weaknesses, you should focus on self-improvement. There are bound to be books you can read, podcasts to listen to, and videos to watch online, that can give you some of the know-how you need.
It might be that going back to school is a good idea too, as a business course or a financial management course (as examples) will give you the skills to manage some aspects of your freelance life.
And for those areas that you aren’t ever going to be proficient in, or that you don’t have time to deal with properly, you can also consider outsourcing, perhaps to another freelancer. Admittedly, there will be an expense, but if outsourcing means the quality of your work is increased, then you might make a profit anyway.
The road ahead is not necessarily a smooth one, but you don’t have to stumble and fall when it comes to the bumps we mentioned. Follow our tips, and then commit to further research to help you make a success of your freelance career.
We wish you every success moving forward.