3 Main Challenges for Freelancers Today: what are they and how to solve them
Did you know that according to a 2017 study realized by UpWork, the well-known freelancing website, 36% of the entire US workforce took up freelance jobs, last year. That’s about 56 million people. So, pretty popular for a career choice, wouldn’t you say?
When looking from the outside, freelancing really seems like the dream situation. Let’s face it, becoming your own boss does have its perks. Working in your most comfortable clothes, meaning your pajamas? Sure, outfit accepted! An office out in the great, wide open? You got it! Doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day? No problem.
However, the more this type of work grew popular, the harder it’s gotten to penetrate the market from both sides. Freelancers today have more competition than ever and businesses are literally inundated with options in every industry, making it a real effort to separate the wheat from the chaff.
As a freelancer, these challenges can seem overwhelming, especially for those just starting out now. So, to help you out, we’ve made our top 3 freelancer challenges, with rescue plans of course.
1. Finding clients & promoting your business, all on your own
So, you are going solo, no boss, no surprise requirements, no more working like a robot. You are the puppet master now and you are in control. It’s the very thing that made you go into freelancing in the first place, but it’s also your first challenge. To have a successful freelancing career, you’ll need to start bringing in clients. And that’s more of an uphill challenge than you might have thought.
Finding freelance jobs comes as result of your advertising, your marketing efforts. So, start showing the world that you have what it takes to complete projects in a successful manner. Use:
- offer tips
- discuss trends
- display your portfolio - show the world what you are capable of.
- social media platforms (they’re always a good start, and really a must in freelancing)
- freelancing websites (which give you the opportunity to speak directly to clients, send proposals and even finalize contracts)
- your own website (studies have shown that freelancers who have a professional website can charge as much as 65% more an hour than those without one)
2. Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
Do you know what’s great about being a freelancer? You make your own schedule.
Do you know what’s really challenging about freelancing jobs? You make your own schedule.
The ambiguity and double entendre of the above syntactic perfectly reflects the challenge of time, scheduling and managing your own self. The solution to time management is simpler than you think: time tracking tools or apps. Check at the end of the day where you are and how many tasks you were able to complete. Setting goals and targets is also extremely helpful in order to understand what it means to be doing well as a freelancer.
If time management is a challenge with a simple resolve, the case may not be so for project management. And not because there aren’t tools out there to help you manage your (hopefully) large portfolio of different clients and different projects, but because of the opposite. As we said, the more the gig economy became increasingly popular, the more apps and tools and platforms of all sorts surfaced to the rescue. So much so that it’s quite a challenge now to choose or determine if that’s money well spent.
Consider two things in making this decision: the volume of clients and projects you actually need to manage and your own organizational skills. If the first is trumping the latter, then invest in a tool to help you.
3. A steady flow of freelance jobs or the lack of it
Out of all the challenges presented so far, it’s very likely that this one hurts the most. As an employee, you know that at the end of month, no matter what, you get paid. When you are a freelancer, your workflow depends on the number of projects you’ve managed to earn. Sometimes, you have more work than you can handle, but other times, you have to accept low paid jobs just to make ends meet.
The lack of a steady workflow affects you on a financial level, obviously, but it also affects your profile on any freelancing websites you have signed up on. It doesn’t look good to have your last completed project dating back a month or two ago.
The answer? Dedicate your free time to advertising. Promote work that’s already been completed, work on projects for the sole purpose of displaying them and make them pop. Put yourself out there. Become a member of multiple freelancing platforms to increase your chances of earning projects and always keep networking.
Challenging, but rewarding
At some point, you’ll be able to look at freelancing from all points of view. However, at the end of the day, you need to know what makes you happy and if the challenges you meet along the way are in fact worth fighting. Freelancing can be a difficult territory, but when done right it can also be extremely rewarding.