If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is why one should try freelancing (at least once in a lifetime). As we pass through one of the most challenging times in the last 100 years, there is so much to learn. So is the case with freelancers. Challenges are everywhere so let’s start with advantages first.
Advantages Of Becoming A Freelancer
Working as a freelancer has its advantages. Such as you can be your boss in an affordable way. And you work according to your schedule. Other benefits of freelancing include:
- Flexible working hours: As opposed to a fixed 9 to 5 working hours, a freelancer can set their working hours. By not commuting, you can save time and spend that time working on your projects (make more money).
- Work from anywhere: freelancing is ideal for those who want to work from anywhere they want. Even they can travel as well as work simultaneously.
- Independence: Freelancers are independent contractors. Although clients usually set some requirements regarding the delivery of work. Yet, they are still independent in controlling their work. But the important thing is to satisfy the client and considering their requirement.
- Earn what they are worth for: the most significant advantage of freelancing is to set your rates. You know your worth, and you want to be paid as such. On the other hand, an employee does the same work (or more) for lower wages.
- Highly affordable: This is of of the great reasons why I love working as a freelancer, the main thing is to have the right skills. This is the only thing that will keep you going in the freelancing world.
- Right marketplace: freelancers are in high demand and will be. The marketplace for freelancers is competitive. As businesses rely on freelancers to finish more work, they are becoming in high demand.
- Freedom to choose clients: one of the biggest advantages of freelancing is to work with the clients of your own choice. You are not forced to work with someone you are not comfortable with. You can leave them at your will.
- Enjoy work-life balance: you have the freedom to pick working hours and types of projects. This means you can have a work-life balance and happiness in your life.
- Wide range of experience: dealing with a variety of projects sharpens your skills. Moreover, you also gain more experience and exposure to your work. Working as a full-time employee for a single company can narrow down your horizons. For more freelancing pros explained check our article about the best benefits of remote working to have an overview based in facts & statistics.
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11 Biggest Challenges Every Freelancer Will Face
Although many full-time employees can relate to certain challenges, freelancers have their own. As nothing comes easy in life, the same is the case with working as a self-employed. While you see some attractions in working as a freelancer, but there is another dark side. Let’s explore in the detail the challenges and how to thrive them.
1.A Challenge To Find Clients:
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 to yourself that you are the right service for them. 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 own 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.
How To Find More Clients, Quickly?
To secure more (and good) clients, you need to work on the following aspects of your work:
- Increase your online presence: this means, 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, stay up to date on online channels such as LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, etc.
- Market yourself as an expert: to 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 the times when there is no work. As it takes time to build a consistent workflow, you have to be patient and mindful of your expenses during those times. So, one of the biggest challenges freelancers face is dealing with the highs and lows of workload.
For instance, on certain days, you might be refusing projects given your workload. 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.
This is not something to worry about too much because freelancing is like a ‘feast or famine’ work. It is important to know that sometimes even experienced freelancers face the same challenge. So, before getting into freelancing, it is important to prepare yourself for the work’s unpredictability.
To keep yourself going, it is important not to panic when the time is not in your favor. The important thing is to have enough cash to manage yourself during the no-work or low-work days.
How To Deal With The No-Work Or Low-Work Challenges?
When you don’t have too much workflow, make the most out of it despite making efforts. To do that, analyze your previous work and performance. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. 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 new skills, you can also help you increase your workflow. For this, take some courses and advanced certifications. Also, think about improving your marketing. This 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: One Of The Biggest Challenges Freelancers Face
‘Being your boss’ sounds attractive, right? Correct. 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. No matter what. And if you don’t, you will simply lose clients for not meeting their timeframe.
Many new freelancers fall into the trap of ‘more clients’. This seems appealing, no doubt. But eventually, the biggest challenge freelancers face is to meet deadlines for each client. If you don’t, they leave you bad reviews. This ultimately affects your credibility, and you face difficulty in finding new clients.
So, it is very important to keep a record of your time and focus on self-assessment.
How To Manage Time Effectively?
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. These apps help in recording 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 Demotivation)
Although, the feeling of running everything on your terms has no match. Yet, experiencing distractions and demotivation is one of the biggest challenges freelancers face. 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, relax, and boost your energy. But you should distinguish between distractions and breaks.
How To Deal With Distractions?
First thing first. You have to be strict in following your schedules and take a self-accountability approach. There is no boss to lead you now- but your self. And you have to keep your motivation level high and distractions off. To deal with distractions, keep your cell phone off or put it on airplane mode. Log out of social media if you cannot turn off your phone.
If you are working on a big project, make sure you are giving 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 to dealing with demotivation is to keep reminding 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 frustrated than waiting for payments and reminding clients about it again and again.
Even some expert freelancers also face the same challenge.
How To Deal With Late Payment?
To ensure your client pays on time, it is important to have a contract in place. Also, set certain rules regarding payment deadlines. As you deliver work on time, you also deserve timely payments. You can tell your client about late payment charges. 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 payment.
6.Working In A Solo Mode:
Let’s accept one fact. Being a freelancer, you will face loneliness that you never imagined! No doubt, freedom to work appeals to all of us. Yet, working in loneliness is one of the challenges freelancers face. Working in constant loneliness can wear you down and makes your laptop lifestyle the worst experience of your life.
Humans need human interaction and support. Moreover, constant isolation can also cause depression or mood swings. So, make sure your loneliness does not hold you from achieving your goals.
How To Deal With Loneliness?
If working alone, making 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
Another challenger freelancers face is to keep on working. This is very common in new freelancers. Being a freelancer does not mean you have to stay up all night working. You should also know when to stop working. Taking control of your working hours means you should spare ample time to sleep and take rest.
Not taking proper sleep and working constantly drains your energy. It also negatively affects your health. So, it is important to manage your work and time properly. You should not compromise any of it over the cost of the other.
How To Deal With It?
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. And then stick to your list.
Initially, you might feel difficult; however, with practice, you will know when to work and when to shut down your computer and relax.
8.Trusting Decision Making Power Is One Of The Biggest Challenges Freelancers Face
Working independently means you have to trust your instincts. You are the only one who is navigating every aspect of a project. You should encourage yourself to make decisions. As well as be proactive in dealing with any kind of work or work-related situation.
How To Deal With Self-Doubt?
Confidence is key to a successful freelancing career. To build self-confidence, listen to your client carefully. As long as you have the confidence of your client, 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. This will give you a good idea of dealing with the client and working on their project.
9.Stay Updated About Industry Knowledge And Technology
As the times change fast, so are the trends in technology. The big challenge freelancers face having the updated knowledge and trends about useful 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 be able to deliver quality work.
How To Update Industry Knowledge?
To stay up to date, make sure you read relevant articles, magazines, or news. Online sources are one of the quick and easy sources of knowledge. Take some time out of your schedule and read those web articles. Moreover, you can also research and find out 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.
How To Avoid Them And Have Peace Of Mind?
Well, your peace needs to keep such clients at bay. It is important to include some details about what you are doing on their project. Also, include a certain number of revisions in the contract. If they demand moon and sound unsatisfied, professionally refuse to work with them.
11.Communication With Clients
In a journey of a freelancing career, certain clients don’t communicate well. Usually, the reason is they are not used to work with freelancers. Not communicating face to face often lead to incomplete or wrong information. This can lead to a strained client relationship. So, it is important to communicate thoroughly.
How To Communicate, Well?
To communicate well with your clients or offering a consulting, ask as many questions as you can 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, yet it is easy to overcome after practice. You need to remain mindful of your skills work and while dealing with the clients.
The most important 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. As much as you can, learn from it. When you have the right set of skills, you can kick off a career in freelancing.