Freelancing brings with it freedom but also its own unique set of challenges, writes Andrew Medal for Entrepreneur.
You have left your restrictive office job behind and gone freelance. You can finally decide what you do and when and where you do it. You are free.
Freelancing platform Upwork estimated that 57.3 million Americans were freelancing as of 2017, and the Freelancing In America 2017 survey used the figure of 36% of the workforce. Freelancing is popular because of its obvious benefits. But it comes with its own challenges, too.
Here’s how to overcome five of them:
1) The burden of self-promotion. Unless you happen to be a freelance marketer, the self-promotion required for any business to succeed probably doesn’t come naturally to you. But there is a simple, creative and potentially enjoyable solution: start creating content. Write a blog, record a podcast or record video. Use this content to “prove your expertise”.
You should also reach out to journalists and media contributors on social media and offer your services as an “expert” on a particular topic. Build relationships and let them know about potential stories.
2) Loneliness. Some people enjoy solitude, but mostof us crave human interaction. Take your laptop to a cafe, join a co-working space and incorporate meetings into your weekly schedule to avoid being alone all the time.
3) Struggling with your calendar. Working solo, you are responsible for all tasks. Some you will like better than others, but you mustn't put anything off. “Battle your procrastination by adhering to a rigid schedule,” writes Medal.
Try using a time management tool, or experiment with the ‘pomodoro technique’: list your tasks in order of priority; set a timer to 25 minutes; work until the timer rings; take a five minute break; start again; after the fourth pomodoro, take a 25-minute break. The idea is to limit the number of pomodoros (25-minute segments) per day in order to accomplish task in short bursts.
4) Scope creep. It’s important that both you and your client are clearabout the work you are doing for them. Scope creep is when the client starts to request added extras – a little bit here, a little bit there – that soon get out of hand. You must nip this in the bud immediately. The best way to avoid scope creep is with a contract.
5) Chasing clients for payment. The curse of the freelancer – late payments. If possible, ensure a contract is in place stipulating a payment date and the rate of interest you charge for late payments. Set up email reminders and look into invoicing software. Don’t be afraid to take legal action if necessary.
LIVE THE DREAM
If you acknowledge the challenges and take appropriate steps to tackle them, freelancing can be the flexible, liberating career you dream of.