Let’s face it. Freelancers face a lot of challenges in their day-to-day lives. “What are the biggest challenges for freelancers?” can get some very comprehensive answers from the community; from finding clients and projects, making sure you get paid on time and even managing your own expectations.
Here are the top obstacles in a freelancer’s life and some tips on how you can avoid them.
1. Getting clients
Project acquisition was, by far, the most commonly-faced challenge by freelancers overall. This isn’t a huge surprise, because at its core, freelancing dictates client acquisition to be a top priority, regardless of industry or previous success.
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So how do you land clients more easily? We have a few tips:
i. Maintain your clients for the long term. To avoid always looking for new clients, make sure you build lasting relationships with the ones you are currently working with. Most successful freelancers get recurring jobs from the same client.
ii. Have a system to approach new clients. Coming up with a new way to approach clients each time you need a new project can really grind you down. Make sure your efforts are not wasted. Track the ways in which you approach clients and measure how successful they are. Once you figure out what works best for you, settle on a method, and continuously refine it. By doing that, you’ll create a system that’s tailored for you and will keep getting you clients with minimal effort.
iii. Don’t give up and avoid slowing down. Persistence is key when acquiring clients. You don’t want to live project-to-project with periods of no contracts in between. Always be on the lookout and always follow your system. Having more projects means you can pick the best ones, too. Even when your plate is actually full, this is one of the rare circumstances where more is almost always better.
iv. Build real connections. Especially with other freelancers in the community. Do not hesitate to recommend them to others when appropriate! They might return the favor someday.
2. Work-life balance
Let’s be honest, nobody likes to admit that their personal life is suffering because of how much they’re working. At the beginning of your career, it can be very tempting to put your foot on the gas pedal and never ease up. But even if you love your job with all your heart, you need a break.
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Take it when the opportunity arises. As a freelancer, you need to learn to say no and also turn down freelance work when you simply cannot take on. It’s important that you manage a healthy work-life balance.
Here’s a tip. Don’t sacrifice your sleep. Be there for your friends and family. Burning yourself out after a couple of years of freelancing is the easiest way to make sure your career doesn’t go far.
3. Getting better pay
This is another classic freelancer struggle that everyone goes through at some point. As a freelancer, if you are consistent in learning new tools and techniques and bettering your skills every year, you expect to see this growth in skill coincide with a growth in pay.
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In reality, however, many freelancer jobs are part of the punishingly-competitive markets. This means there will be a lot of people trying to undercut your prices. The best way to combat that is to go against the flow. Avoid lowering your rates just because there are ten other freelancers in your niche who would do the job for less. Emphasize quality instead.
As freelancing keeps growing, many businesses realize that it’s not just about cheap and convenient external labor, it’s about getting experts. Strive to be one of those experts and make your payment reflect that.
4. Staying productive
A lot of freelancers struggle most with maintaining productivity. There are a lot of ways to fight your laziness and you will have to look for one that works best for you.
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Some people find that working in an environment with other people gets them motivated. This could be in a cafe, a co-working space, or even at home. The best way to figure out how you can maintain self-discipline is by trying different things out. If you see that things aren’t working out, break the mold.
Not a morning person? Stop trying to push yourself to work at those times altogether and focus on the evenings. You can’t get any work done because emails keep distracting you? Turn off your phone and the email client on your laptop.
Identify what distracts you and cut it out as much as you possibly can. Eventually, you will arrive at a place where you understand how and when you work best; utilize that knowledge to become more productive than ever before.
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Here are some ideas that can help you with improving your productivity:
i. Create and follow a to-do list. Prioritize your tasks and plan your day upfront to understand all things you should complete in your working day.
ii. Use project management tools. There are many online tools that can help you organize your life and business so that you can keep track of client acquisition, the tasks you need to complete for each client, etc. Trello can be a great option for freelancers.
Running a business involves a lot of paperwork and requires time to manage invoices, chase payments, submit taxes, etc. This is usually one of the tasks freelancers prefer outsourcing. If you can afford it, this is a great option.
However, you could also explore one of the many accounting apps available to freelancers. Many allow freelancers to track time and handle invoices or expenses very easily, which can save tons of time.
So as you continue on with your freelance career, it’s important to remember these 5 commonly faced nightmares, and how you can overcome it. If you’re still not sure where to start your freelancing journey, why not check out Rtist? We have one of the biggest creative talent communities in Malaysia that matches you with your clients.