6 problems freelancers face and how to overcome them
The freelancing industry is on the rise the world over and for good reason as it gives you the autonomy to take charge of and steer your own career and earn a good living while you’re at it.
The popularity of this convenient, adaptable and lucrative alternative to conventional 9 to 5 jobs can be gauged from the fact that it employs nearly 43% of the overall US workforce. It also contributed an astounding 715 billion USD to national earnings in 2016.
However, these umpteen perks of working as a freelancer are coupled with an array of challenges too, that are specific to this industry. These must be overcome in order for any freelancer to be successful. Here, we have enlisted the 6 biggest problems that freelancers face along with tips for overcoming them:
1. Ambiguous requests:
At some point, every freelancer gets a client who either don’t adequately communicate a project’s requirements or aren’t sure themselves of what they want out of a particular task. The latter expect you to guide them in this regard.
While handling both cases is tricky, you would be better off with the latter because at least they are open to advice and aren’t wasting your time.
A crucial tactic that you can use to manage these clients is to compensate for their lack of experience or knowledge in that specific domain by offering your expert advice during the planning phase of a project.
You can do this by discussing their requirements at length and then asking specific questions that will help you unveil everything you need to know in order to generate a winning solution.
You can also draft a brief description of the outcomes of the project and then gain the client’s consent on it so that everyone is clear about what to expect.
As far as the former are concerned, it is imperative that you make them realize that lack of information or clarity will keep you incapacitated, and you will fail to deliver high-quality results.
You can also compile a summary of your solutions so the client can understand what you will deliver. Both these tactics will save you from making tedious revisions on your own dime.
The freelance industry lures millions each year with a promise of convenience and autonomy, however, one of the most challenging aspects of freelancing is job and financial insecurity.
This is because you may have more work than you can handle one month, and little or none the very next, with no way of knowing what the future might hold.
This paradox of feast and famine reduces as you progress in your career, however, it is still always a viable threat when you start. Fret not, as there are plenty of things that you can do to minimize this instability.
The most crucial advice I got when I started freelancing was to save up during busy months. Secondly, use multiple channels to secure projects. You can start by setting up a professional website/ blog and have a strong presence on social media and freelancing websites such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Fiverr.com and Odesk.
All of these tasks will take time and effort in the beginning, however, it is vital that you invest time and effort so you can identify one or two sources that work for you and can help maintain a consistent flow of work.
A relatively easier way is to get retainer clients as this system provides much more security than ad hoc projects.
3. No work-life balance:
It is commonplace for freelancers to isolate themselves, always stay buried in work and eventually lose their work-life balance. This is a slippery slope as working long hours on a regular basis will reduce your creativity and therefore affect the overall quality of your work.
Not to mention its adverse effects on your health, social and family life. Done over a long period and it will inevitably lead to burnout. The solution to this overlapping of work and personal boundaries is quite simple and involves an acknowledgement of the situation followed by remedial actions such as setting specific work hours during the day and then sticking to them wholeheartedly.
You can also streamline your work by taking your clients on board and informing them of your schedule as well as the number of hours you will be able to put in on a daily or weekly basis.
This will allow you to enjoy your work, have new experiences that will fuel your creativity and find that game-changing inspiration that most freelancers need prior to start any project.
4. Financial and administrative responsibilities:
Another crucial thing to remember is that freelancing requires a great deal of work such as delivering high-quality work, marketing your own service, interacting with clients and managing financials which in many cases cannot be done by a single individual.
Therefore, try to outsource or automate whatever you can to either technology or professionals so that you give yourself enough room to improve various aspects of your freelance business. You can do this by using project management software, time tracking tools and accounting software.
However, if you feel like you don’t have the expertise to effectively handle technical tasks such as financial management or website management, it is better to outsource them to professional accountants and IT services providers.
5. Unreliable clientele:
It is nearly impossible to find a freelancer who hasn’t encountered clients who either don’t pay at all, or pay but only after a huge delay resulting in the disruption of your personal as well as business finances.
Maintain detailed records of assignments you have undertaken along with their payment deadlines and then use these records to stay on top of your clients’ payments schedules by sending them timely reminders.
Also, prior to starting a project, be sure to tell your clients of the importance of timely payments for establishing a long-term working relationship.
6. Lack of benefits:
With freelance work, you don’t get benefits like paid sick or annual leaves, health insurance, Christmas bonus or increments that come with most 9 to 5 jobs.
The key here is to take a proactive approach and calculate how much money you might need for unforeseen medical expenses, insurance or your annual holidays, divide them in to monthly amounts and then deduct them from your earnings every month.
You can put this money in an account every month so that you don’t have to worry about missing a day’s pay when you’re sick and have enough cash to enjoy a week or two away with your family or friends.