5 biggest challenges of freelancing and how to deal with them
Freelancing comes with a lot of perks. You can work from the comfort of your home. You can avoid traveling and getting stuck in traffic jams. You don’t have to call the HR every time you are late for work. And you get to be your boss (even though some clients can be quite bossy).
Being a freelancer is a liberating experience but it comes with a lot of responsibilities. You are a marketer, an entrepreneur, a manager, and an accountant at the same time. You cannot delegate the tasks to your teammates or subordinates. You are on your own and that can be quite stressful at times.
Here are the biggest challenges of freelancing and some advice on how to deal with them.
- 1 Finding new clients
- 2 Difficult Clients
- 3 Long Sitting Hours & Physical Inactivity
- 4 Distractions & Personal Obligations
- 5 Uncertainty
Finding new clients
Finding a new client or getting a new project to work on is one of the biggest challenges of freelancing. You cannot find a job and expect it to last for years.
There can be a lot of fluctuation in the amount of work or number of clients you will have at a given time.
You need to have a constant stream of work and it’s easier said than done. The lack of work or new clients can make it hard to continue as a freelancer.
How to find freelance work
- Try to stand out from the crowd. Work on your brand.
- Get a website to showcase your work and market your talent. You will need that even if you are finding new projects through a freelancing platform. Your potential client will be able to see that you are serious about your work. This will help with trust and credibility.
- Focus on relationship building and keep in touch with your clients even when they have stopped giving orders. A strong network is important for freelancers because nothing works like referrals.
You will be lucky if you find a client who understands how to work with freelancers. Many clients try to micromanage everything and stay in constant touch. They might ping you every few hours. It can be a huge waste of time unless you are charging for all that communication.
Some clients will not communicate much but expect you to do all the work as per their unspecified requirements. That can leave you confused, stressed, and exhausted.
How to deal with difficult clients
- Set clear boundaries right from the beginning. If you answer the emails or respond to their messages on Skype or Slack at odd timings, you are encouraging them to continue with the same behavior. It will become difficult to discourage this behavior in the future.
- The same strategy goes for micromanaging clients. Tell them politely from day one that you will give them an update on the task on the agreed time.
- As for communication problems, ask as many questions as you can from your client and be clear in your commitments.
Long Sitting Hours & Physical Inactivity
You are not bound to follow a strict 9-to-5 schedule but that can be a pitfall because you are likely to make some poor lifestyle choices. You will find yourself in front of the screen most of the time because you are in no hurry to get up and go home.
This lifestyle can be detrimental to your health and can lead to physical and mental health problems. According to several studies, a sedentary lifestyle can snatch a few years from your lifespan. Sitting almost as bad as smoking.
How to deal with long hours of inactivity
- Make sure that you have added 30 – 40 minutes running or jogging in your daily routine. It has incredible benefits and you don’t need anything to start (except a pair of running shoes)
- Try adjustable desks that allow you to alternate between sitting and standing.
- If that’s not possible, use a Pomodoro timer to take a 5-minute break every 20 minutes. Get up from your seat and walk around or do some simple stretching exercises.
- Also, make sure that all of your leisure time is not spent in front of screens. Your work is important but you can cut off some hours from your Netflix binge-watching.
Distractions & Personal Obligations
When you are working from home, distractions are bound to happen. Your family and friends may not grasp the idea that working from home doesn’t mean you are always available for a discussion or visit.
You may also feel a little more responsible or obligated to do the chores because you are staying at home. Helping your family with the routine stuff is a good thing but you must remember that freelance work is as important as the office work and deserves your full attention and commitment.
How to deal with distractions
- Get yourself some quality headphones that will help you avoid the unnecessary chatter or noises and get into the zone.
- Make a timetable and stick to it.
- Don’t get too flexible with your working hours so your family will realize that you need to focus.
- Do not let your personal life meddle with your work hours.
Even when you have got a good client or project, you cannot be sure how long it will last. Freelance jobs are usually less reliable than a typical job. The uncertainty factor is always there. You may have a great gig and a very cooperative client, but you have to diversify your client base to ensure you have a backup when one of the clients departs.
How to deal with uncertainty
- Diversify. Do not stop at just one client or project.
- Think like a business. You need to build a constant stream of visitors and customers to your business.
- You can outsource extra work or build your team. It will be some extra work at the start but soon you will be working as a business.
Time management is important to maintain some balance in your life. It becomes even more critical when you are running a freelance business (especially when you are getting paid on an hourly basis).
Freelancing might look like an easy option but it can be more stressful or difficult than an office job. You need to be a thorough professional, self-disciplined, and determinant to make it work.