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Managing the Problems Related to Freelance Life

Anything worth having rarely comes easy. This is most definitely the case when it comes to freelance life. A lot of people would like the freedom of working when they want and charging more money, but there’s a good reason why not everybody takes this approach: it can be challenging.

The good news is that in an age when so many people have decided to freelance, many of the common problems are well-known, and there’s typically a solution that will make things more manageable. In this blog, we’ll identify many of the issues that freelancers new and old experience, and also offer guidance on how you can overcome them.

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Are You Ready? 

If you haven’t quite made the transition to freelance life just yet, then this piece of advice is for you: are you sure you’re ready to embark on this stage of your career? It’s always possible to leap into freelancing, but if you leave a stable job and you’re not quite ready, then you might have to fall back on a regular position -- and that can be pretty dispiriting. You might be tempted to begin receiving all the benefits of freelancing, but remember that patience is a virtue. It’ll be better to bide your time and slowly build your expertise and confidence, and then jump into freelancing.

Finding Clients

Working as a regular employee does have its advantages. For one, all the work is brought to you. When you set off on a freelance journey, then you’ll need to find clients on your own. And this can be challenging. One of the best ways to hit the ground running is to already have a list of clients that you can call up. As for finding new work, it’s recommended to always be in network mode and to put yourself in the right circles. Joining a coworking space is one of the best ways to do this. Once you’ve made some connections and people know what you do, you’ll find that people just come up to you and offer you work directly.

Slow Periods

Even if things are generally good, there’ll always be times when you experience slow periods. It’s just the nature of work. The first thing is not to panic. If you’re in your first year of freelancing and hit a period without much work, then be aware that it could just be the time of year. A lot of work dries up during the height of summer, for instance -- it’ll come back in due course. If the lull goes on too long, then look at getting back to the basics. You’ve likely hustled before; now, you need to do it again. There’s no shame in having to go back to basics, no matter how long you’ve been freelancing. You can, after all, only play the hand that you’ve been dealt -- in the age of coronavirus, a lot of people have realized that they need to build their business back up again.

Too Much Work

Of course, sometimes the opposite is true. You have too much work. This sounds like a nice problem to have, and in many ways it is, but it’s still a problem. If you have more work than you can handle, then you could find that your stress levels are rising and that the standard of your work is beginning to slip. You might welcome a burst of work on a short-term basis, but if things go on too long, then look at making some changes. You don’t have to take every job that comes your way. This could be an opportunity to build some good karma by handing the job over to someone else who does need work. 

Getting Paid

It’s all good and well having work, but if you’re continually waiting to get paid, then you’ll find that things are a lot more stressful than they need to be. It’s true that some clients are eager for the work to be completed, a little less eager to pay their bills. While you’ll always have difficult clients from time to time, there are some things that you can do to make things easier. To begin, learn how to send an invoice quickly. The quicker that it’s with your clients, the quicker it is that you’ll get paid. You may also offer a small discount (say, 5%) if it’s paid within the first few days. If it’s becoming a big problem, then talk to your clients. Most will be happy to give you the money if they realize that it’s an inconvenience. 

The Correct Working Set Up

Another advantage of working for a traditional company is you don’t really have to think about your working setup. It’s all more or less provided for you. When you’re a freelancer, you will need to put together your own one. This takes a little time, but it’s also kind of exciting. For example, whereas in the past you had to make do with whatever environment your employer provided for you, now you can create an office in your own image, in your home. If you want to work outside, then look at joining a coworking space. There you’ll have essentially all the convenience of a regular office. If you live in any reasonably sized city, then there’ll be numerous to choose from. Look at finding the one that best represents your preferred working conditions (for example: laid back or corporate). 

Work/Life Balance

You might have been used to the regular 9 - 5 routine, but when you become a freelancer, you’ll find that things aren’t quite so simple. There are advantages to being on your own watch; for example, you can lie in a little longer if you’re tired. But you might also find that you’re working well past five on some days too. While there’ll be periods where you have to put a long shift in, if it’s becoming the norm, then it’ll be important to make some changes. It’s really important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. If you don’t, then eventually you’ll find that you’re burning out -- and it can take a long time to recover from that. It’s best to set a cutoff period for yourself, at which point you won’t work anymore. Do your best to avoid checking your emails, too -- the goal is to completely disconnect until the following morning.

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Productivity Issues

Productivity is the bane of freelance life. Even when you know that you have a lot of work to do, it seems to be oh so easy to get distracted by everything else. Suddenly, the thing that should have taken you one hour has taken you three, all because you couldn’t focus. In all likelihood, you’ll need to figure out how to be productive on your own. This will involve a little bit of trial and error, but eventually you’ll get it. It’s all about identifying your triggers and working to avoid them. The key is not to be too harsh on yourself. If you lose an hour here and there, it’s no big deal. The main thing is that you get the work done. 

Growing Stagnant

The standard for freelancers is high. It has to be! If you’re going to continue getting clients, then it’s important that you’re at the top of your game. After a while, you might find that you’re growing a little stagnant, but remember that there are always things you can do to get your mojo back. Taking a course is a great way to give your skills a boost. Another option is to take a week-long break or more. You’ll find that you return back to work ready to go. 

Difficult Clients

The longer you’re a freelancer, the more likely it is that you’ll come across a difficult client. Everyone gets one eventually. These are the clients who ask for a lot of work and have many demands, many of which they change halfway through the project. While sometimes it’s a good idea to simply grin and bear these clients, if they’re having an overly negative impact on your life, then don’t stress too much about dropping them. Ultimately, you didn’t become a freelancer so you would stress over other people’s problems. If you have a client who’s being difficult but you suspect isn’t aware of it, then your first approach should be to talk to them. A lot of people are understanding once they’re made aware of the negative impact that their actions are having. 

It’s Hard

Finally, here’s one of the problems that every freelancer experiences at one stage or another: it’s hard. Sometimes, you wish you could go back to the comfort of traditional employment. Other days, you just want to have a break. When you’re feeling a little down, look at reaching out to other people. There are amazing freelance communities both online and in the real world. Sometimes just being around people who you know experience the same as you is enough to make things a little better. 

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