Freelancing is a great option for many, but it is full of challenges at the same time. You don’t know in the beginning what to prepare for, and the industry is constantly changing. As one of the most financially insecure industry, freelancing as a career can cause you sleepless nights. Until you build your reputation and manage your time better, it will be a constant struggle of juggling short deadlines and chasing customers for money. If you have been trying to make a living of freelancing for a long time, and are still struggling, check out the below list to find out what to focus on.
1. Your Competition Is Huge
No matter if you are starting a content writing freelance site, or want to design graphics, you will soon realize that you are competing with people from all around the world. You will not be able to compete on the price, or you end up starving, so you have to find your unique selling point to differentiate your services on the competitive marketplace. Offer something extra, something better, or shorter deadlines. Build up your reputation and get reviews, so you can show that you are not just one of the millions of freelancers bidding on the same project.
2. Nobody Just “Gives You” Work
Work will not fall on your laps, and it is often harder to get it than to complete it. You might want to write proposals, samples, or send out a portfolio that is customized to the proposed client’s industry and needs. If you are a graphic designer or website programmer, you might simply have nothing to show in the beginning. Try to complete sample projects, or offer cheaper prices for companies in the beginning, so you can put your link on their completed site, and get free exposure. Until you have a decent freelancer portfolio, it will be hard to convince clients to trust you with their project.
3. You Have to Invest In Productivity
Your daily or hourly earnings will depend on your speed. You might want to get your website a boost, and install customer service software, or an online chat, so you can secure more work, and don’t get distracted by answering the phone. You can get in touch with software companies that specialize in productivity tools. Having your own console at home that handles your projects, deadlines, and customers is a good investment for the future, and can improve your business long term.
4. Discipline Is Essential
When you are your own boss, it is easy to get distracted. You might forget about the deadlines because your favorite show’s next series just came out on Netflix, and you will have to rush the job in the middle of the night. If you cannot manage your projects and deadlines on your own, you can set up an online calendar that will give you warnings before deadlines, and also track your productivity time. If you cannot manage your time and keep your deadlines, starting your business might not be for you, after all.
5. Customers Don’t Like Paying On Time
You might have been employed before, and are used to regular paychecks turning up on the same day of each month. If you go freelance, you can say goodbye to this security. Indeed, most freelancers struggle with getting their payment on time. Before you agree to complete a project, you should always state the terms, and enter a legally binding agreement. If you have clients overseas, you will risk even more, as they will be harder to track down. If a company approaches you with a proposal to work together, the bare minimum you should do is check their website and reviews, to see if they are legitimate and pay on time. You don’t want to spend hours each week trying to get your clients to pay.
6. You Will Need To Become an Accountant
When you are freelancing, you have to update your financial accounts every time you invest in your business, or get paid. Even if you decide to have an accountant, you will need to give them the figures, before they can complete your tax return. If you don’t do this every day, you will not have a clear view of your financial situation, and might end up spending more than you are making each month. You also have to send out payment requests, calculate the interest, as well as currency exchange.
7. Pricing Decisions are Challenging
If you are presented with a project you have never done before, you might have no idea what the right price is. You might check out other freelancers’ sites, but no two jobs are the same. When bidding on freelance sites, you will not see other proposals, so you simply need to play it by the ear. This means that sometimes you will not get the job as your price is not competitive enough, while in other cases you will end up working for peanuts.
8. Some People Are Never Happy
No matter how hard you try, there are some people out there who are impossible to please. They will come back with a complaint every week, and you will start wondering whether they simply wanted you to work for them for months for free. If you work through freelancing sites, you can escalate the dispute, but this is a lengthy process, and you will be without money for weeks, if not months. The good news is that – as you become more experienced – you will learn to spot clients that are likely to cause you a headache, so you can avoid them.
Freelancers need to learn everything fast. You must improve your productivity, get on with different applications, manage customer service, billings, your accounts, and your time. No matter how overwhelming the experience can be, you will get there over time. If you are ready to learn from your mistakes and can focus on getting more organized and more productive, you can build a successful and profitable freelance business that gives you more time and flexibility than a 9-5 job.