The last pandemic and the economic crisis have taught us that we should try freelancing (at least once in a lifetime). There is so much to learn as we pass through one of the most challenging times in the last 100 years. As nothing comes easy in life, the same is the case with working as a self-employed.
Top Challenges Freelancers Face & How To thrive Them
While you see some attractions in working as a freelancer, there is another dark side of problems. Let’s explore in detail the challenges and how to thrive them.
Let’s accept one thing: finding clients and retaining them is one of the biggest challenges freelancers face. You have to satisfy your client and prove that you are an exemplary service. In securing clients, word-of-mouth references matter a lot.
When you hold onto a client, serve them well, and make them happy, they provide you feedback. You can build your portfolio based on their experience working with you. However, this does not come the easy way. You have to be patient with your clients and work. To secure more clients, you need to work on the following aspects of your work:
- Increase your online presence: Being a freelancer, you have to be your own ‘brand.’ You and your skills need marketing like any other business or brand. So, how will you reach them and tell them about you? Through online marketing strategies. For this purpose, you have to build a good website and stay up to date on online channels such as LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, etc.
- Market yourself as an expert: make yourself an expert in your field, learn advanced skills, attend relevant events, get certifications, and network with other experts. You can also give your business cards to stay on your potential clients’ minds.
- Be active on third-party platforms: to attract more clients, make your updated profile on freelancing platforms like Upwork. Bid on more projects, preferably as much as you can. Seek testimonials from your past clients (or have a recommendation from your boss or colleagues)—network with other freelancers.
2.Be Ready For No-Work Or Low-Work Challenges
That is true. Unlike your full-time job, you have to prepare yourself for when there is no work. As it takes time to build a consistent workflow, you have to be patient and mindful of your expenses. So, one of the biggest challenges freelancers face is dealing with the highs and lows of workload.
For instance, you might be refusing projects given your workload on certain days. Whereas you also might be desperately asking your past clients for work. So, it depends unless you have successfully established a stable workflow over time.
There is something to worry about because freelancing is like a ‘feast or famine work,’ and it is essential to know that even experienced freelancers face the same challenge. So, before getting into freelancing, it is crucial to prepare yourself for the work’s unpredictability. It is important not to panic when the time is not in your favor to survive. The important thing is to have enough cash to manage yourself during the no-work or low-work days.
Please make the most out of it when you don’t have too much workflow despite your efforts. To do that, analyze your previous work and performance. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on them. You can also consider improving your work by employing and learning project management tools.
Moreover, you can use this time to improve your skills or even new skills. By offering unique skills, you can also help you increase your workflow. For this, take some courses and advanced certifications. Also, think about improving your marketing which is already discussed in the above section, yet it is inter-related. Use this time to introduce yourself on different social media channels and market your skills.
3.Manage Time Effectively
‘Being your boss’ sounds attractive, but this also means that you are responsible for every bit of your work. You are the boss of your own time, and you have to meet deadlines at any cost. And if you don’t, you will lose clients for not meeting their timeframe.
Many new freelancers fall into the trap of ‘more clients, ’ which seems appealing. But eventually, the biggest challenge freelancers face is to meet deadlines for each client. If you don’t, they leave you bad reviews, which ultimately affects your credibility, and you face difficulty finding new clients. So, it is vital to record your time and focus on self-assessment.
Good time management begins and ends with keeping a record of everything you deal with in a project. To manage time efficiently, you can use time tracking apps, and these apps help record hours and rates across your different projects. Automated apps are more useful as they capture every detail. While you focus on meeting the deadlines, these apps, in the background, automatically track and record your freelance hours. You can use Timely or find others online that suit your needs best.
4.Dealing With Distractions (And De-motivation)
Although, the feeling of running everything on your terms has no match. Yet, experiencing distractions and demotivation is one of the freelancers’ biggest challenges. Especially when you have low work, you might feel like giving up.
Other activities might also distract you when you have your schedule, causing a delay in your work. This does not include taking breaks from work, relaxing, and boosting your energy. But it would help if you distinguished between distractions and breaks.
First, you have to follow your schedules and take a self-accountability approach. There is no boss to lead you now- but yourself. And you have to keep your motivation level high and distractions off. Keep your cell phone off or put it on airplane mode to deal with distractions. Log out of social media if you cannot turn off your phone.
If you are working on a big project, give yourself some free time. It is healthy to have some short breaks and exercise procrastinate in a constructive way, such as replying to emails or working on any other small task. The important thing is not to distract yourself and stay on track. Another tip for dealing with demotivation is to remind yourself of your goals. Regardless of the pressure you feel, your goals should motivate you.
5.Running After Client For Payment
Late payments are one of the biggest challenges freelancers face. You have completed the project and delivered it on time. Now what? Silence on the client’s end. Nothing feels more frustrating than waiting for payments and reminding clients about them repeatedly. Even some expert freelancers also face the same challenge.
It is crucial to have a contract in place to ensure getting paid on time. Also, set specific rules regarding payment deadlines. As you deliver work on time, you also deserve timely payments. You can tell your client about late payment charges, and you can place automated email reminders on the date of the invoice. Try any good invoice app that keeps you updated about your finances. Certain invoicing apps also set late payment fees. Another way to ensure timely payment is to hold the final project until you get the final milestone.
6.Working In A Solo Mode
Let’s accept one fact. Being a freelancer, you will face the loneliness that you never imagined! No doubt, freedom to work appeals to all of us. Yet, working in loneliness is one of the challenges of the laptop lifestyle that all freelancers face. Working in constant loneliness can wear you down and makes online freelancing the worst experience of your life.
Humans need human interaction and support because constant isolation can cause depression or mood swings. So, make sure your loneliness does not hold you from achieving your goals. If working alone makes you feel down, grab your laptop and go to some nearby café with a friend. Talking to friends for some time also refreshes your mind.
Another way to deal with isolation is to use shared working spaces. With the rising popularity of freelancing, freelancers look for opportunities to interact with others. Moreover, small business owners also prefer shared working spaces. So, interacting with other freelancers or business owners helps in staying motivated. Also, you share knowledge and work opportunities.
7.Keep Working Round The Clock
Being a freelancer does not mean you have to stay up all night working, and you should also know when to stop working. Taking control of your working hours means you should spare ample time to sleep and rest. Not taking proper sleep and working constantly drains your energy, negatively affecting your health. So, it is crucial to managing your work and time properly, and you should not compromise any of it over the cost of the other. The most important thing is to realize that you need rest also. To do that:
- Spare a certain number of hours for your work alone.
- Work during those hours.
- Don’t waste time in the illusion of completing your task during the night.
- Keep a diary and make a to-do list for that day.
- Stick to your list.
Initially, you might feel difficult; however, you will know when to work and when to shut down your computer and relax with practice.
8.Trusting Decision Making Power
Working alone means you have to trust your instincts. You are the only one who is navigating every aspect of a project. It would be best if you encouraged yourself to make decisions. As well as be proactive in dealing with any work or work-related situation.
Confidence is key to a successful freelancing career. To build self-confidence, listen to your client carefully. As long as you have your client’s confidence, you are good to go. Discuss every aspect of the project with your client to avoid any loopholes in the work. When talking to them, observe their behavior and tone, which will give you a good idea of dealing with the client and working on their project.
9.Stay Updated About The Industry
As the times change fast, so are the trends in technology. The significant challenge freelancers face is having updated knowledge about the latest technological advancement. Chances are higher that you might need some advanced knowledge to carry on some projects. Unless you are on top of the trends, you won’t deliver quality work.
To stay up to date, read relevant articles, magazines, or news. Online sources are one the quick and easy sources of knowledge. Take some time out of your schedule and read those web articles. Moreover, you can also research how you can use this information.
10.Dealing With All-The-Time Unsatisfied Clients
It is a norm in freelancing work to have unsatisfied clients. No matter how much you do for them, they will complain. You might also face some holding your payment and waste your precious time. In this case, you can talk to them and explain their concerns multiple times.
Well, your peace needs to keep such clients at bay. It is essential to include details about what you are doing on their project. Also, have a certain number of revisions in the contract. If they demand moon and sound unsatisfied, professionally refuse to work with them. You can also check our guide about the best video interview tips to learn how you can influence your angry client and ensure he trusts you to continue the project.
11.Communication With Clients
In a journey of a freelancing career, specific clients don’t communicate well. Usually, the reason is they are not used to working with freelancers. Not speaking face to face often leads to incomplete or wrong information, leading to a strained client relationship. So, it is crucial to communicate thoroughly.
To communicate well with your clients or offer to consult, ask as many questions about the project. And also, encourage them to ask your questions to clarify any ambiguities. Moreover, tell them your expectations about work and the feedback you need in return. Stick to your terms and communicate. Also, listen to your client’s requirements carefully to avoid any bad experience on either end.
Freelancing is a booming career path. The biggest benefit freelancers love about their work is the freedom to work. Although freelancing has its challenges, it is easy to overcome after practice. It would help if you remained mindful of your skills in work and dealing with clients.
The most crucial thing in a successful freelancing career (or any job) is to deliver quality work on time. Unless you master these challenges, it is not advisable to leave your full-time job and jump into freelancing. Your job is an opportunity to learn, and as much as you can, learn from it. When you have the right set of skills, you can kick off a career in freelancing. Happy freelancing!