The Pitfalls of Freelancing (And How To Avoid Them)

When you’re slaving away at an unfulfilling job, freelance work is the greener pasture. Away from demanding and unappreciative bosses, grueling hours and endless busy work, everything will be perfect, right? Well, maybe. Freelancing is a great option for many, but only if they’re aware of what they’re getting into. Make note of these issues, and plan to avoid them before they steal your freelance dreams.

No Guarantee of Steady Work

 The Pitfalls of Freelancing (And How To Avoid Them)

Image via Flickr by Martin Terber

When you work for an employer, all the legwork of bringing in business falls to them. Freelancers aren’t just responsible for doing the work, they’re also in charge of finding clients, negotiating fees and keeping clients happy. Many people who excel in their jobs aren’t savvy at schmoozing customers. The best way to handle this is to get some training on closing clients. If you’re not good at this, you may need to enlist the help of a salesprofessional.

Boundaries Between Work and Home Life Blur

It’s easy to get comfortable with the on-at-9, off-at-5 lifestyle. Freelancers often get a shock when the workday spills into their cozy home life, just as the spouse, kids, and dog intrude on work hours.

Some freelancers choose to keep an office separate from the living area, such as in a garage. Others rent office space. But many freelancers simply set steady work hours. The most important thing is to go to work at your assigned time, and be disciplined about when it’s time to knock off. If your family knows what time you’ll be available, they’ll be less likely to intrude when work is buzzing. There are also tons of apps for you that can help, such as Daily Routine, Crunch Time, Divide and Remember the Milk. Get an excellent BlackBerry z10 touchscreen-based smartphone price, and these apps could be at your fingertips for less than you may think.

Paychecks Aren’t Automatic

If you’re used to holding your hand out every two weeks, you’re going to be quite surprised when you begin freelancing. Checks don’t come regularly, and often you’ve got to shake the trees vigorously to make them come at all.

Experienced freelancers will tell you: most clients pay within a reasonable time, but the few who don’t cause enough frustration and headaches to make you run back to your old job. Have a signed contract, including payment terms, for every assignment. It isn’t a guarantee, but it does give you legal grounds if someone doesn’t pay up.

You Don’t Have Employee Benefits

Sick leave, vacation days and retirement plans are the luxuries of the employed. Freelancers have to get the work done, even when they’re sick. Vacation comes with savvy planning well in advance, and you’ll have a retirement fund only if you’re diligent about saving through the years.

There’s Nobody Else to Take Up the Slack

Coworkers might be a pain, until you’re out with appendicitis and they step up to get your projects completed. When you’re freelancing, there isn’t anyone to do this. Some freelancers team with others so both will have a backup plan. Other freelancers depend on good customer relations in times where things don’t go as planned. Generally, if you’re a consistent and dependable worker, clients will work with you in times of trouble.

Freelancing isn’t impossible, but if you don’t know the ropes, it can lead to disaster. Have your plans in place so these pitfalls don’t happen to you.

Calvin Sellers is a freelance writer and graphic designer from Tampa, FL. Follow him on Twitter @CalvinTheScribe.