Have you ever dreamed about working from home in your pajamas? Lots of people argue that anyone can do it. To some degree this is true, if you have enough drive and ambition. However, just because you can be a freelancer, doesn’t mean you should. Take a look at these eight signs that freelancing isn’t for you.
1. You Don’t Want to Be On Call 24/7
Many freelancers have a hard time separating work life from personal life because it all takes place in the same space. This can make it seem like you are on call 24/7. And, a lot of the time, you truly are because of your client’s needs. Flexibility can be a curse because it may mean you have to work at all hours of the day.
One time, I worked for a client that had a project manager in India. India is on basically the opposite time schedule as me, so I had to adjust my lifestyle a bit to ensure I returned emails in a timely manner. This meant sleeping with my cellphone close to me so I would wake up whenever I heard an email come in. This was a less than ideal situation, but it’s something you have to be prepared to deal with as a freelancer. Clients expect you to work on their time, which puts you constantly on call.
Even vacations can be affected by the freelance life. A client from the past may email you with new work and you’ll need to respond. Clients wouldn’t be happy if they had to wait a week or more before getting a response. By that point, they probably would have found someone else to do the job.
2. Your Attention Span Is Short and You Can’t Get Organized
You have no supervision as a freelancer. This means you have to hold yourself accountable for the work you do. To be successful, you have to manage your time wisely to stay on target to meet your deadlines. If you’re someone with a really short attention span, this can be a difficult adjustment as you enter the freelancing world.
Additionally, having young children at home can be a major distraction. People think that working at home is the ideal situation because you don’t have to hire daycare, but it actually requires a high level of organization and patience. You have to prioritize your work and juggle lots of other things at the same time without losing focus on your deadlines and goals.
My attention span is less than stellar, but I’ve been working on making it better. I know that when I am really focused, I make more money, which is a huge motivator for me. Having a short attention span will hurt your freelancing career, but it is something you can work on improving. The biggest thing you need to do is minimize your distractions and find self motivators that will keep you on task.
3. You Aren’t an Expert at Anything
The most successful freelancers choose a niche and become an expert. If you’re not willing to do this, freelancing will be hard for you. Sure, there are always content mills that will hire you to write about anything, but landing higher paying gigs requires knowledge, experience, and authority in niche subjects. Clients will deem you an expert if they see a portfolio of articles with similar topics. You can also get a degree in a field where you want to be an expert.
I’ve been a freelance writer since before I got my English degree back in 2008. I enjoy writing about the craft of writing and I’m working on further building my credibility in the subject. Nobody becomes an expert overnight! You have to continually expand your knowledge and stay up to date on trends. Anyone can do this.
I’m also working on building my expertise in technology, small business, freelancing, and marketing. You don’t have to pick just one area of expertise, especially since your interests will change over time. For instance, when I first started out as a freelance writer, I contributed a lot of articles on sewing and crafts since those are some of my hobbies.
4. You Haven’t Built Enough Confidence Yet
Successful freelancers are not afraid to promote their work on social media or anywhere else. You have to gain exposure as a freelancer to get more work and build demand for your services. If you’re afraid of having your name attached to something, freelancing is not a good choice for you. You need to overcome the feelings of self doubt and be willing to show your work to the world. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will believe in you, either.
Confidence comes after you have become an expert in something. This is because you’ll stop second guessing your information and be willing to stand behind your words. Additionally, the more practice you get, the more confidence you will have because your skills will improve.
At first, I had a hard time putting my bio on articles, especially if I expressed any sort of opinion, because I didn’t want others to judge me or argue my points. At this point, I’ve stopped caring — there will always be people with differing opinions. Plus, my own opinion adapts over time. That being said, I do care about the quality of my work and all freelancers need to be concerned with this, too, because it affects how many clients you get in the future.
5. Dealing with Clients Scares You
As a freelancer, you are your own boss. This means you have no one to go to if you’re having a hard time with one of your clients. If the thought of having complete control over client relationships scares you, you might want to rethink being a freelancer.
Some clients are a breeze to work with and others are very picky with high demands. A lot of the time it is hard to figure out what clients really want. One of my least favorite things about freelancing is feeling the stress of starting a new job every time I get a new client. It is hard, but you won’t have to worry about it as much later in your career when you have a larger client base.
Of course there’s more to dealing with clients than figuring out what they want. You have to maintain the relationship after you finish a project. This means you have to spend extra time reaching out to your clients through friendly emails and newsletters. And the kicker is that you have to do all of this without pay.
6. You Don’t Know How to Negotiate Your Pay
Another difficult thing about being a freelancer is that you have to negotiate your pay. Some people have no problem with this, but it can create an awkward situation. Just make sure that you charge what you are worth and build in time for emails and calls. Remember, if you’re willing to work for minimal pay, that’s all you’ll get.
Also, keep in mind that freelancers do not get insurance benefits like traditional employees. This means asking for a higher hourly rate is acceptable. Getting paid by the project instead of by the word is another great way to increase your pay rate, as long as you work efficiently.
As a side note to negotiating your pay, too many freelancers fall victim to content mill rates. This is because content mill work is the easiest to get as a freelancer. However, working for five cents a word won’t get you anywhere fast. It probably won’t even pay the bills. Some people use content mills as a way to fill in the gaps between better paying clients, but you’re better off spending your time looking for new clients. I really wish more people would think this way so that content mills would go out of business.
7. Money Management Isn’t One of Your Strengths
Being a freelancer means that you run your own business. This requires strong money management skills because you won’t have a steady paycheck. As a matter of fact, your paychecks can be drastically different from one month to the next. I once had a month where I made $4,000 and then the very next month I only made $500. If you want consistency, freelancing is not for you.
Too many people leave their full-time job for the freelance life before considering everything involved. Freelancing does not work for everyone and not everyone can make enough money doing it. It’s best to start out on a part-time basis to determine if it’s right for you before jumping completely in. Also, make sure your savings is built up before you start to help you through the first few rocky months.
8. Being Alone Bothers You
For the most part, freelancing is solitary work. Sure, there is the occasional phone call or face-to-face meeting with clients, but you don’t truly have coworkers or anyone you can talk to about work on a daily basis. Some people thrive in this type of environment while others go crazy. If you can’t stand to be by yourself all the time, freelancing isn’t for you.
For me, I go through bouts of loneliness, but this is only when I’ve been isolated from friends and family for a while. As long as I can get out and have fun with people on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, working at home doesn’t bother me. I actually didn’t experience any loneliness until I had been freelancing for about a year. Of course, I had some stressful things happening in my life at that time that also could have contributed to it.
If you’re worried about loneliness, you should avoid freelancing or be sure you know how to cope with it. There are ways to get around it. For instance, you can go to a public place to work, such as a library, café, or park. You can also make friends with other freelancers in your community or online and stay connected.
Freelancing is the ultimate job for flexibility, but it is not easy, especially at the beginning when you’re building your client base. You need confidence, determination, talent, and professionalism to thrive in the freelance world. You can make it happen if you really want to, especially if you’re able to overcome the problems with freelancing mentioned in this article.
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