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5 reasons why freelancing is not everyone’s cup of tea

What do you think an average day in a freelancer’s life looks like?

Waking up at 8, making a solid breakfast with roasted coffee, enjoying the morning breeze before making it to your work desk. Looking into today’s work schedule, working before your daily stand-up at 11 AM, taking a lunch break at 2, and finishing off at 5 to enjoy your life. Feels like heaven right?

Well, this can be an ideal case but as a freelancer I’ve hardly had such days. While not every day is a ground-hog day, not every day is as perfect as I’ve described. In fact, as a freelancer, even I dream of such days myself. There is a lot going on in between and let me delve into it before you start contemplating the freelancer life.

1. A freelancer needs to know how to deal with clients

As a freelancer you are an individual as a company, you go out looking for jobs, you apply, you prepare meetings, you take notes, you assign days to work, you work your hours, you deliver, in short, you manage everything from head to toe.

In all this, you sometimes don’t get to relax as much. There is always something on your mind, a deadline, a meeting, a proposal.

But what’s most important of it all is dealing with clients. By dealing I’m not not just talking about communicating with them but setting the right expectations, negotiating payments, working long-term, understanding requirements and managing communication. Not all this is everyone’s cup of tea. But being a freelancer you gotta get used to getting uncomfortable. You will need to do things as a part of your business you previously never liked or had to do.

On the brighter side, all this can be learned and over time a lot of people do develop these skills which brings me to my second point.

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2. Freelancers need to keep improving their skills

As a freelancer I am always learning, I’m not sure about a job that keeps your learning hat on you all the time. The best thing about freelance is working on projects. Every project is a challenge, it requires you to come from a new angle. As the market is quite saturated, you need to keep working on your skills to improve and keep your place. It’s easy to be overlooked and so you need to keep thinking about new ways to approach clients and your work to stand out from the crowd.

You are not only a remote worker but a brand in yourself. It’s important to learn some business, communication, negotiation and soft skills as you grow. They pay off big time.

3. Freelancers must know time management

Not fond of working on deadlines? The hardest thing I have to overcome as a freelancer is organizing myself. It’s controlling yourself when you can put your work for later and enjoy life in the moment. Perhaps, go for a walk as the spring breeze hits my window or scroll through social media. As a freelancer you might be tempted to think ‘I’ll work on this later in the evening.’ But not setting healthy routines doesn’t just affect your work but do you and your health more harm.

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4. The trick about working around flexible hours

If you are living with family members, setting boundaries and work routines is crucial. I never did that in my initial years and so I was thought of as someone who can be contacted for random chores at anytime. And being the obedient daughter I was, I complied and then went crazy near deadline hours. At that point, everyone who dared come near me suffered.

It’s important to work in your flexible hours but more than that teaching people around you that you are working even if it is from home is a pretty critical component in a freelancer’s life. Recently, the pandemic has made the ‘work-from-home’ a little more acceptable. Not just that, it’s easier to explain people what I do for a living.

5. Dealing with uncertainty and risk

People generally think jobs come with security. I have a different opinion on that but I’ll save it for another day. Right now let’s talk about the uncertainty and risk involved in freelancing.

As a freelancer, you need to get comfortable with the uncertainty and risk it comes with. Otherwise, you will be driving yourself nuts. I’ve had months where I work back to back and have little time to spare. Sometimes I even have to reject clients because there is only so much workload I can take. At other times, I get weeks to myself with little to no work. Overall, if I look back at my year and what I make a month on average, it’s pretty much what I expect out of the time I’m giving to my work. It is to say, you need to look at the entire spectrum and manage work stress accordingly.

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On the other hand, risks like people not paying you, clients not liking your work despite your best efforts, clients disappearing before they pay you, delayed payments are all a part of the picture as well. While I do choose my clients carefully, I’ve had moments when I regretted signing my contract with people. On the contrary, most of my clients pay me well, are great to communicate with and are happy with the work I do.

This of course, even I had to learn over time. Yes, there is risk involved. Yes there is uncertainty, but I’ll still prefer and see myself as a freelancer at the end of the day. In short, I am happy with my job.

Remember, if you are working freelance you have the independence and the opportunity to create a better balance in life. You can give more time to yourself and your family. You can invest your time in hobbies you’ve always wanted to invest time in.

At the end of the day, I chose freelancing because I wanted to create better balance and live the lifestyle I was working for. This needs healthy boundaries in terms of work. As you are the manager and organizer of your work, do it better.

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