One of the best and enviable parts of being a freelancer is the ability to keep your own hours, including rolling out of bed whenever you like and starting work when you say so.
However, this freedom can sometimes come at a price, and that price is allowing laziness to creep into your daily life, from walking around in your pajamas all day to not socializing outside of your email inbox.
Suffice to say, there are a number of challenges of becoming a freelancer, and it’s important to know what they are so that you can subvert them. Let’s take a look at five of the biggest, and how you can conquer each one:
There’s Nothing to Get You Up in the Morning
Freelancers are the kings and queens of getting into bad habits, and for a good reason: they don’t have to get up and out in the morning. It’s one of the perks, but it can have a detrimental effect on you and your work. You might start showering and brushing your teeth at midday instead of first thing, and sweatpants will be permanently attached to you.
There are ways around this, of course. One would be to force yourself to get into a routine, including getting up and going for a walk, a run, a visit to the gym, etc. You can come back, get showered and be at your desk before 9am when everybody else would’ve started work after a long, boring commute.
You Don’t Get to Meet Potential Co-Workers
Freelancers can quickly become isolated and unsociable creatures who communicate via email and social media only. Even if it’s just a few ‘hello’s’ and a two-minute chat about the latest episode of your favorite Netflix show, you’ll soon start to miss the camaraderie that came from working with others.
Fortunately, there are ways around this, and one of them is to hire office space. Hiring office space means that you’ll still get the buzz from interacting with people, and as they are in the same boat as you, it might be that you could work together on projects from time to time, or certainly recommend each other to clients. Building relationships and networks as a freelancer is important, and who better to build them with than fellow freelancers.
Some offices offer more perks than others, like Level Office, for example. They offer 24/7 secured access, mail service and your company logo are displayed at reception, which is another great way to show legitimacy to your customers and clients who might be meeting you at your office space from time to time.
Not Everybody Makes a Good Boss
Everybody has worked for a boss that they maybe haven’t agreed with, yet respected for motivating them and getting them to be more productive than they otherwise would be. Freelancers have to be the Manager, the worker, the HR department and the payroll clerk, as well as the cleaner, canteen staff, and every other role. This can be incredibly stressful and take up a lot of time that could be better served elsewhere.
The issue for some freelancers is that they are not entirely self-driven, and this can be trouble if you are looking to be self-employed for the rest of your working life. Fortunately, there are ways that you can overcome this issue, and that is by being as organized as possible.
Set goals, both short-term, and long-term, and plan them out in your calendar, with alerts built in to give you friendly (or not-so-friendly) reminders that you should be getting on with certain tasks that will ultimately get you to where you want to be. If you are organized, you will be putting the right kind of pressure on yourself and should prevent any dramas from occurring.
There Are No 40 Hour Guarantees
Most people are used to working around 40 hours a week and manage to organize their lives around that schedule. Freelancers don’t have that luxury because they can be working anything from zero hours to 100 hours, depending on how many clients you have and how easy you find it to say no. The issue of having no set hours works both ways, too.
When you haven’t got any work, you might find it difficult to motivate yourself to find work, educate yourself and generally be productive. And on the flipside, taking on too much work might be great for your bank account but not for your social life, your relationships or your mental health. You need to learn what your ceiling is when it comes to how busy you want to be, and how to fill your time in a meaningful way when you have some slow periods. Manage this one, and there’s no reason why you can’t have a successful freelance career.
It’s All in Your Name
Most people have been in a situation where they have made a mistake at work, and it has been managed in a way that your personal reputation has not been damaged, even if it resulted in disciplinary action. Unfortunately, freelancers don’t get this luxury. When you work for yourself, the buck stops with you, and every success and every failure will be in your name. This is fantastic when times are good, but it can be detrimental to your business if you make mistakes that go against your name. You could find yourself getting bad reviews online, and each one will be in your name.
The way to overcome this challenge is to grow a thick skin. There are inevitably going to be times when errors are made. Communication could be an issue, a deadline might be missed for some reason, or you simply don’t meet the customer/client’s expectations. These things are necessary to take into your stride as a freelancer and learned from so that they don’t grow to the aforementioned crisis point where bad reviews start to factor in. Take your critics like you take your praise: with good spirits. See what you can do to make it right and work hard to make sure it never happens again. The majority of clients will give you a second chance if you handle criticism in the right way.