A freelance lifestyle is frequently positioned as an ideal career path for people seeking an escape from a 9-to-5 office job. It’s liberating so people say. You can supposedly work 4-hour work weeks while enjoying more family time or freedom to travel. And with the sky as the limit to your earning potential, then surely there can’t be many drawbacks? What’s not to love about freelancing?
Unfortunately, like with many seemingly perfect career choices, freelancing has a number of drawbacks, especially for the unprepared freelancer. These drawbacks are often forgotten, glossed over, or ignored when the dream of a freelance lifestyle fuels your excitement.
The common drawbacks of freelancing
New freelancers quickly find the freelancing lifestyle involves more hard work than a traditional job, at least in the initial months, and even years. You’re building a business from the ground up, and much like an entrepreneur, you’re in charge of every decision, big and small. If you’re accustomed to relying on a boss to guide you, then freelancing can be a shock to the system.
Then there’s finding clients, which is very difficult at the beginning when you have few samples of your work or testimonials. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of competitors, many of whom have been established for years. Gaining new clients is a continual slog, which gets easier over time, but is always a worry.
And while some clients are a joy to work with, many others are a pain in the backside. Attracting bad clients can be worse than attracting no clients at all, especially for your mental wellbeing.
Freelancing can also potentially be a lonely career path. Freelancers tend to work solo, joining forces temporarily with clients and other professionals on a short term basis. Many more hours than not are spent alone, which suits some personalities, but not others. While working from home is a big attraction, it’s also difficult to define borders between home life and work. This can lead to poor productivity, lack of focus, and distractions from family members.
How to overcome the common drawbacks of freelancing
All of the above paints a rather depressing picture of freelancing, doesn’t it? But of course, there are the positives as well, which are widely advertised. For many established freelancers, the freelancing lifestyle is a lucrative dream come true and it provides liberties and choices they’d otherwise find unavailable.
But such success requires careful consideration and planning. Avoiding the common drawbacks of freelancing will ensure you can navigate around the pitfalls and instead build a solid and streamlined freelancing career well into the future.
It’s not that hard either.
The following are some of the ways to ensure your freelancing career can meet with increased chances of financial success and lifestyle enjoyment.
- Believe in yourself
This might sound a little wishy-washy but it’s incredibly important to truly believe in yourself as a freelancer. No one else will trust or feel confidence in your professionalism if you’re full of doubt about your abilities and the chances of success. Work hard on developing your self-confidence and improving your general skills.
- Choose the right type of clients
A big part of self-confidence is seeking to attract the best clients. These don’t necessarily mean the highest paying clients, but rather the ideal clients for you. These are the people who will respect your talents, listen to your advice, remain friendly, and pay you what you yourself believe you are worth. Focus your branding and marketing efforts towards these people, and these people alone.
- Consider a specialism
Attracting the right clients is a lot easier when you specialize. Regardless of the work you do, there’s always room to hone in on a particular target market or type of service. Being a specialist places you as a true expert in your field. It can quickly move you above your competitors when it comes to getting noticed and also allow you to significantly raise your rates.
- Focus on speed
Another benefit of specializing is the potential to work a lot faster on client projects. When you know an industry or type of service, inside and out, then you’ll likely work twice as fast. And speed is so important when it comes to freelancing success. In every aspect of your business, find ways to streamline your processes and continually seek ways to improve your workflow and cash flow. The faster you are, while still maintaining quality, the more you’ll earn.
- Invest in the right tools
When it comes to streamlining, it’s essential to make use of the latest tools and technology. Many apps and cloud-based software platforms can help you speed up your workflow, increase security, help with project management, and improve your brand in the eyes of your clients, among many other things. The right tools can reduce your admin work (which can be a lot as a freelancer) and help you get closer to that 4-hour work day dream.
- Plan effectively
Reducing your work hours while earning even more money requires careful planning. Project management is an essential skill to master as a freelancer, especially when you are working with multiple clients at the same time. Project management tools such as Kanban boards and time tracking software can help you carry out diverse tasks and jobs with more speed, more efficiency, and more clarity.
- Look after your body and mind
Working from home, as the majority of freelancers do, can lead to the forming of certain bad habits. Lack of exercise, overeating, poor posture, and social isolation can lead to physical and mental health conditions. It’s important to get out every day, like you would if going to an office. It’s vital to find social activities. Local co-working spaces might be a good option a couple of times a week.
- Save money for a rainy day
Unlike with a traditional contract job, freelancers need to actively put money away for the future and any unfortunate surprises such as illness. Saving for a rainy day ensures you can confidently take a week or two off if you or a loved one suddenly falls ill. Saving money can also reduce anxiety during the lean moments that are inevitable when freelancing.
- Charge what you’re worth
One of the biggest mistakes freelancers make – even some of the experienced ones – is undervaluing their worth. If you have relatively good experience and knowledge in your field, and you know you can truly benefit your clients, then it’s perfectly reasonable to charge high rates. You need to remain confident in your abilities and design your brand identity to match.
Making the freelancing lifestyle work for you
Freelancing is a great career choice. When you build your business in the right way and focus on the best clients for your personality, then the freelancing lifestyle is sweet indeed. A well-developed freelance business allows you to choose your work hours, earn as much money as you need, travel anywhere and at any time, and work on other business adventures in parallel.
Achieving this success requires careful structuring and planning, as well as a lot of hard work in the early days. But by implementing some of the above-mentioned tactics, you can effectively avoid the common pitfalls of freelancing, and meet with success a lot sooner than you may have anticipated.