Freelancing is a considerable gift – no dressing up for work, no commute through traffic, no boss breathing down your neck. But for all of its strong points, freelancing has its share of bumps in the road that can challenge even the best of us. While most full-time traditional employees can relate to things like traffic, bad coffee, and that one co-worker who always seems out to get you, freelancers’ problems are a much more unique set, and usually require a unique solution..
Here’s a look at 25 freelancer problems, along with remedies that might help you avoid them the next time they crop up.
1) Sick Days = Work Days.
If you’re too sick to work, you just don’t make any money that day. Solution: Take care of yourself! Go to bed on time, eat healthy, and keep your immunizations up to date. Basically everything your mother told you to do as a kid.
Staying home all day can have its own pressure points. Distractions tend to pop up and make us procrastinate in ways we never would at an office. Solution: Have a set schedule of what you’re going to do every day. Build in time for breaks and lunch and adhere to it.
3) Work-Life Balance.
Once you get into the rhythm of freelancing from home, it can be tough to think of home as anything but your office. Solution: Make sure you’re taking care of the rest of your responsibilities and don’t just view every free moment as another chance to work.
4) The Tax Man Cometh.
It’s up to you to set aside money to pay for social security and other taxes. If you don’t, forget about a refund come April 15. Solution: Get educated via the IRS’s small business website and set aside money to pay estimated taxes as the year goes.
5) Insurance Isn’t Cheap.
When you work for yourself, you have to insure yourself. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 makes health insurance mandatory, although plenty of freelancers would debate the “affordable” part. Solution: Visit healthcare.gov to find a plan that works for you if you aren’t covered by a spouse’s plan.
6) The Lean Season.
You’ll start to notice how things tend to slow down as the year-end holidays approach. People tend to wait until after the new year to get to projects they need done. Solution: Plan ahead and be willing to work for lower rates in the last two months of the year to make ends meet.
7) Being Undercut.
As anyone who’s ever used Upwork or Elance can tell you, there are people out there willing to do work for next to nothing, just to have the job. Solution: Believe in your own value and work so cheaply that you’re losing money. Clients who appreciate talent are out there.
8) Getting Scammed.
Some scams are merely putting a high price on a project to garner interest, while others are out to do serious harm like stealing your identity. Solution: If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Anyone asking for personal documents better have one amazing reason for it.
9) Not Getting Paid.
It’s going to happen eventually. A client is going to cut bait and run after you’ve delivered the work. Solution: Make this possibility as unlikely as possible, or at least as undamaging as possible. Ask for a percentage upfront to negate your potential loss. If you’re using an online service like Upwork, fully employ their mediation and resolution services.
10) Financial Stress.
If you’re a (hopefully) busy freelancer, things like who’s paid you and who’s waiting on an invoice can sometimes slip through the cracks. Solution: Services like Paypal can create invoices, or you can try out the AND.CO app that uses a real person to act as your personal CO.
11) Unbilled Hours.
Some clients will ask for more than they’re paying for. Solution: When you take a job with a fixed rate, estimate how much time it will take and make that is part of your agreement with the client. If they ask for more work that isn’t a correction, charge them for it.
12) Creative Theft.
Ownership of a creative product is something that can come into question. Solution: Establish early on who will have the creative rights to something unique you design or create. If you are writing blogs for a company, are they going to give you a guest byline or does every word you write become their property?
13) Missing Deadlines.
Whether it’s via sickness, a car wreck, a death in the family, or bad weather, you’re going to miss a deadline at some point. Solution: Don’t panic. Be honest with the client and be willing to go the extra mile to get them their project quickly.
14) The Client Who’s Never Satisfied:
You’ve probably met them already. Your work doesn’t fit the bill, no matter how many iterations you deliver. Solution: Be transparent with them about what you’re doing. If they demand the moon, professionally disengage.
15) Not Enough Sleep:
Staying up late to finish a project is OK once in awhile, but don’t make it a habit. Solution: Burning the candle at both ends diminishes your brain capacity over time. Take a nap the next day to replenish yourself, even if it’s a quick one.
16) Work Environment Blues:
Whether it’s a light bulb to change, a shoe to tie, a boo-boo to kiss, or a discussion to be had, it’s difficult for our loved ones to remember that while we’re home, we’re not really home. Solution: Establish a clear schedule with your family and remind them to treat it like you are away at work.
17) Technical Difficulties:
If your freelancing craft is design or programming related, you’ll want to keep up with the latest technology to get the job done right. Solution: Plenty of companies are now offering their products via the cloud in a pay-as-you-go software-as-a-service (SaaS) format. This will bring down your costs, and you can write the expenses off.
Knowing as much as you can about where you’re getting the most profit, how many repeat customers you have, etc., is vital. Solution: Use a small business analytics tool. This can be a great way to guide your business toward higher paying opportunities.
19) Unpaid Vacations:
When you take a vacation as a freelancer, you’re doing two things: Not making any money that well and being out of touch for any clients that want to talk to you. Solution: Make your clients aware in advance when you will be unavailable and set up email messages that tell when you’ll be back. You might want to bring along a computer and set aside an hour or two a day to get essential work done as well.
20) Abusive Clients:
People can get mean when they’re behind a keyboard. Solution: If communication is over an official platform like Upwork, alert the customer service team. If it’s via email or other forms of personal communication, best disengage from the contract before it gets worse.
21) Intrusive Clients:
Some clients forget that this is a professional relationship, and will decide to call you whenever they want to demand updates or make corrections. Solution: Set up parameters of communication with each client. If they call you at inappropriate times, don’t answer and respond with a courteous email later on.
22) Rate of Exchange:
When doing business with clients in different countries, you can expect to see payment in different currencies which may affect the value and how quickly you are paid. Solution: Make sure you and the client agree on the currency. Also, try to use a platform like Paypal that can quickly transfer funds from one currency to another.
23) Marketing Yourself:
Getting the word out on who you are and what you do can be tough, especially in a competitive field when you’re first starting out. Solution: Find market penetration wherever you can, using creative, robust profiles on sites like Upwork, building contacts through social media, and creating your own website to establish your brand.
24) Getting Bad Reviews:
Not every client is going to love your work, and on sites like Upwork, even a 3-star rating (out of 5) can make you look bad and feel worse. Solution: Tell your side of the story as objectively as possible in response to a bad review, and contact the client, asking what you could have done better. Make it a learning experience.
25) Getting Fired:
Sometimes clients are going to decide you’re not the right person for the job and sever the contract. Solution: The worst thing to do is go off the deep end and fight to retain your position. The decision has been made, how will you respond? Professional courtesy is the #1 thing in your armory at this point, and remembering that there’ll be another position coming your way soon.
What unique problems have you encountered as a freelancer? Tweet to AND CO..