What Are the Downsides of Freelancing?

At A Freelance Life, we’re all about enjoying the benefits of freelancing! But it’s also important to occasionally consider the negatives of freelancing so we can develop ways to overcome them. Today, we’ll look at the potential downsides of freelancing and some solutions to these issues…

1.      Finding clients

One of the major negatives of freelancing is trying to find clients, especially when you’re starting out. It can take a lot of time and effort to find clients, but without them, you won’t earn anything. Unlike a 9-5 job where you get paid just for turning up, nobody is going to pay you if you don’t have projects secured. It can also be pretty miserable when you get frequent rejections for freelance jobs you’ve pitched for.

How to overcome this:

  • One method is to freelance as a side hustle alongside an employed job while you build up a client base, before making the switch.
  • If you’re already a full-time freelancer, try looking for clients in your existing network or looking in other places to find clients. You can discover 10 ways to find clients here.
  • Think outside the box.

2.      Overcommitting

When you do manage to find clients, it’s easy to over-commit and end up with more work than you have time for. When people are requesting your services, it’s tempting to say yes to everything because you want to guarantee that you’ll earn enough. But then you find yourself overworked, with no free time. And no free time makes a very dull freelancer!

How to overcome this:

  • Plan your work out using a diary so you can see how much time you have available.
  • Plan in regular breaks and holidays.
  • Try to stick to a reasonable amount of daily hours, and calculate how much work you can get done in that time.
  • Ask clients whether you can schedule work for the future if you’re too busy now.
  • Find out how to get a freelance work-life balance here.

3.      Becoming isolated

This leads to the third drawback: it’s easy to become isolated as a freelancer. You’re most likely working from home, working potentially unusual hours, and overcommitting to work, so it’s easy to neglect your social life and realise you haven’t left the house for three days. Loneliness and isolation are big risks for freelancers, so this is one to watch out for.

How to overcome this:

  • As you’re responsible for setting your own hours, you have to manage them to fit in your social life.
  • Make yourself switch the laptop off.
  • Make an extra effort to stay social.
  • Go out every day, even if it’s just for a walk.
  • Plan to see loved ones regularly.
  • Try co-working spaces or work from other locations.

4.      Income stability

One issue with freelancing is earning enough to sustain yourself and pay the bills. As your work is unpredictable, your income is also irregular and unstable. For this reason, you can feel flush at times and bankrupt at others, and you may end up borrowing money to stay afloat or getting into debt.

How to overcome this:

  • Keep a rainy day pot of money for times when you earn less, or better still, several rainy day pots.
  • Put your earnings into a bank account and give yourself a “pay day” every month.
  • Try to get regular clients, as this guarantees some earnings every month.
  • You can find ways to get more income stability as a freelancer here.

5.      Inertia

If you work from home, you may find yourself doing less exercise, or sitting in the same spot for hours because you’re in the flow of work. Plus you don’t have the commute to work, so you may not even leave the house most days. As inertia and lack of exercise can lead to mental and physical health problems, it’s important to regularly get moving.

How to overcome this:

  • Set a notification to move every hour (or get a smartwatch that reminds you).
  • Work from the garden to get fresh air.
  • Go for regular walks.
  • Take up a sport or yoga, or join an exercise class or gym.
  • Exercise at home using online videos.

6.      Becoming stagnant

It’s also easy to become mentally stagnant as a freelancer since you’re not applying for promotions or going on training course like you might in an employed job. Because of this, your skills might become out of date or you might not gain new skills, which means you don’t progress or move on.

How to overcome this:

  • Keep up to date by following industry news.
  • Listen to podcasts and TED talks.
  • Keep improving and developing new skills.
  • Look for online training on websites such as Udemy or SkillShare.
  • Pay for training if necessary.
  • Review your previous projects to see where you can improve.

What problems have you encountered as a freelancer? How did you overcome them? Comment below or get in touch.

Stay tuned for more freelance tips every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!

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