The Biggest Challenges of Being a Freelancer and How to Deal With Them
I started my freelance career by accident. In college, I had a lot of success using social media to promote local events. I never thought anything would come of it. I just did it for fun. What started as a social experiment grew into a strong social media network with millions of views. Friends, family, and businesses took notice. Wanting to make the best of my situation, I learned as much as I could about the industry’s best practices. I spent my time learning about dozens of methods and tools to do my job more effectively. Since then, I have worked with more brands than I care to count to successfully help them grow their companies online.
It wasn’t always easy. The life of a freelancer is plagued with distraction, miscommunication, and doubt. This article is partially to motivate you, the reader, and partially to motivate myself to keep striving to be the best freelancer in the game.
Believing You Can
It’s far too easy to think of all the reasons you should give up, get a “real job”, and do your work in an office like everyone else. For me, nothing could possibly beat the freedom of working from my favorite coffee shops, answering only to myself, and doing what I love.
However, not everyone is suited for the role. Being a freelancer means doing whatever it takes to advance yourself to the next level. Even when you aren’t working for clients, you’re still working. It’s important to continue learning, finding new clients, and becoming the very best you can be at your craft.
Once you can make a routine of this the next step is believing you can do it. It is important to believe in your craft, whatever it may be. This can be hard when you have fewer clients than you would like, you face struggles with the clients you already have, and you see your friends working regular hours with benefits, job security, etc. Always keep in mind the reason you started pursuing this lifestyle. For me, that reason is freedom and independence.
When you fall, it’s important to know that you have what it takes to pick yourself up again and keep going. Whether that means finding new clients, finding new ways to perfect your craft, or expanding your range of expertise, you have to keep going. As my grandmother told me, “With persistence and hard work, you can accomplish anything.” She was talking about completing a puzzle but the same applies to freelancing.
One of the luxuries that most people have that freelancers do not have is that they can goof around at work. Being a freelancer, you have to work hard and concentrate to be effective. You can’t bill a client for the time you spend talking to your friends, playing games, or other forbidden activities that sometimes happen in an office setting.
I’ll admit it it. I am easily distracted. When I try to work at home the possibilities are endless. Cleaning, games, television, books, rearranging furniture, and exercising are just a few examples of things that I sometimes will myself to do instead of my work. It’s a bad habit that I am still working on getting rid of.
I get my best work done after midnight when there is nothing else to reasonably do. Sometimes I find myself staying up until 4:30AM doing work. For a while I thought this was a weakness.
I recently met a freelancer that specialized in Google Adwords. She told me she wakes up at 3:30AM to do her work. I told her that’s amazing. I am often just finishing my work at that time. What she said to me made me reconsider my perspective. She told me its amazing that I stay up as late as I do and that she could never do that.
Since then I have embraced my night-owl work life. What can seem like a weakness can really be a strength. Since the late hours do not bother me they are a strength and not a weakness. I can work more diligently and effectively at 1:00AM than most people can work during their regular hours. This confidence and self awareness allows me to be more effective in servicing my clients.
Whenever you work, make sure it is at a time that you will find yourself most effective. For some people that means waking up before the sun rises or staying up long after it sets. Choose whatever method works best to eliminate your distractions. The more effectively you work, the more you can enjoy all of the freedom, independence, and benefits that come with being a freelancer
Dealing with Clients
No matter how much you believe in yourself and effectively manage your time, you are going to hate your life if you don’t effectively communicate with your clients.
It’s important for freelancers and clients to have a crystal clear understanding of their scope of work. This is easier said than done. Clients may sometimes be tempted to give their highly achieving freelancers more responsibilities. This is called scope creep and can be poisonous to any freelance relationship. If you don’t see eye to eye with your client on what it is that you are responsible for, you may find yourself overwhelmed, underpaid, and unhappy.
Have an understanding of what it is you are required to do, timing, methods of communication, partners, billing, and limitations. If there is any uncertainty along the way, the very worst thing that you could do is ignore the problem. Have a strong and effective line of communication with your client to make sure that you are both happy with the outcome you are heading towards.
Effectively managing your client’s expectations will ensure that they keep coming back for more and that you remain happy to provide them with your service. Communication is a key factor in any relationship. A freelance one is no different. Work hard, stay focused, and have clear communication with your clients so you can enjoy the limitless benefits of successfully running your freelance business.