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Last week, I listed the reasons why I love freelancing. To keep things balanced, today I’m going to share what I hate about freelancing.
Hopefully, this list will help those who are still thinking about freelancing to decide whether it’s really right for them. Sometimes, freelancers are accused of romanticizing our work, as if our lifestyles were all about coffee shops and yoga pants.
It isn’t. Freelancing is darn hard. So don’t think for a minute that a freelancer’s life is perfect or devoid of problems.
Just take a look at all the stuff that makes me dislike freelancing:
1. Unpredictable Income
We’re not salaried, so we can’t predict that we’ll make $4,000 a month. This is especially true for beginning freelancers who are still building their network of clients and prospects.
Clients can cancel or suddenly stop a recurring project. On the other hand, sometimes too much work arrives and you have a windfall (as well as possibly more work than you can handle).
Even for those of us who have a pretty steady income, it’s still impossible to say exactly how much we’ll be bringing home each month.
I have a general idea of my monthly income, which is helpful for budget setting. But in reality, I can earn more or less than the average on any given month. This can be really tough if you’re counting on your freelancing income to pay the bills.
2. Big Responsibility
When you’re a freelancer or other type of self-employed entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. If anything goes wrong, you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible.
Gone are the days of hiding behind the authority of bosses when decision making time comes – or when *#$% hits the fan. I felt this acutely the first time I sent a press release about one of my niche blogs. It was strange for me to be sending off a press release without getting clearance from at least two supervisors first.
3. Dealing with Clients
In general, my clients are mostly very nice people and are a dream to work with. In fact, I am very blessed to have clients who are good people.
But not all clients are pleasant to work with. Some have questionable ethics (like my client who wanted me to write copy for a product sight unseen). Some clients pay late or not at all. Others haggle your fees to death, or demand more than what you promised (free marketing consultation, anyone?).
These instances have been rare in my experience, but when something like this does come up, I get a bad taste in my mouth.
4. No Benefits
When you’re a freelancer, the sad fact is that if you don’t work, then you don’t make money. I really miss having paid vacation days, when I can take off for a couple of weeks and still know for sure that my salary will make its way into my bank account.
This is why freelancers should have other streams of income, preferably passive income. But usually we have no time or energy left after all the client work is done.
Health insurance is another big issue for other freelancers. Because I live in Canada, my family and I receive free consultations with the doctor, immunizations and hospitalization. My hubby’s employer covers most of our costs for prescription medicines, naturopathic care, dental services and eye care.
So health insurance isn’t a big concern for me, but I feel I should mention it here because it is a big worry for other freelancers.
5. Self Promotion
One of the things I first discovered about freelancing was that I had become a salesperson – of my services. If you’re looking for employment, you pretty much only have to sell yourself while you’re applying for the job. After that, you simply have to not screw up to lose your job.
Not so with freelancing. Because the flow of projects and income is unpredictable, you need to be constantly marketing yourself, as this article in Freelance Switch advises.
Related to this is the need to ask for money, which can be uncomfortable for some. For example, every time I increase my fees, I have sleepless nights wondering how I’m going to tell my existing clients that I now require more moolah for the same work.
I went through the same conundrum when I decided to require payment first before I start a project. My current problem is figuring out how to tell clients that while I may dish free marketing advice via email now and then, I do charge an hourly consultation fee, if the marketing advice they need requires a telephone call.
Do you have any advice for me?
The Bottom Line
These are the the things about freelancing that make me sigh, worry and second-guess myself. I did my best to make the number equal to the number of benefits I listed last time.
But it isn’t the number that’s important here. In fact, the degree of negativity all these things bring me does not equal the amount of positive vibes I get from the benefits of freelancing.
I dislike these things because they’re uncomfortable. They require courage and optimism. They force me to stretch myself, acquire new skills and become an all-around better person, copywriter, marketer and entrepreneur.
So for me, the benefits of freelancing far outweigh the negatives. Is it the same for you? Do let us know, please post a comment below.
photo credit: blakeemrys