As rewarding and fulfilling as freelance life can be…
…there’s no doubt that the road to success isn’t an easy one.
According to a survey conducted by Dinghy, freelance life can flag up a number of unique challenges that you won’t find in a typical 9-5 job, from getting paid on time to finding more work.
If you’re looking to make the jump to freelancing, you’re likely wondering what the most difficult part of freelance life is. Is it the constant struggle to win more work? Is it the stigma that might come from your friends and family?
In this edition of Freelancers’ Corner, we’ve once again brought together our amazing freelance community to give you the lowdown on what the most difficult part of of freelance life is.
Ready? Let’s get started!
What is the most difficult part about being a freelancer?
Our freelancers noted the following issues as the most difficult part of being a freelancer:
- Organization (23.5%)
- Lack of consistent work (17.6%)
- Uncertainty (11.8%)
- Managing finances (11.8%)
- Retaining intellectual property (11.8%)
- Client management (5.9%)
- Working unsociable hours (5.9%)
- Freelancing platform commissions (5.9%)
- Rejection from prospective clients (5.9%)
Managing time & money
Organization and staying top of multiple projects. If you slip up, its like a domino effect.
Not knowing when your next paycheck is coming, unsociable hours and maintaining a relentless work ethic.
Uncertainty. It takes time to build a successful freelance career, but the reward makes the road worth it.
Keeping track of finances and battling with the stigma that your art is not valuable or worth much money to a client!
The constant pressure to win more work and the need to manage your time effectively.
Why Can Freelance Life Be Difficult?
Jelena argues that client management is the biggest struggle of freelance life:
Funnily enough, the clients often make freelance life difficult. A small portion of them will respect you, but most of them will not. Some of them won’t understand the scope of the work and subsequently have unreasonable expectations (like drawing 100 illustrations in 10 days for 1 dollar). Even if clients do understand the scope of the work, a lot of them will still be unreasonable in their expectations.
Jelena also points out that client theft is another difficult aspect of client management:
Unfortunately, some clients will try to steal your work while falsely offering you a job (such as requesting free samples or test versions). The best way to avoid this is to be firm in your principles; if you haven’t got an agreement, don’t produce any work!
Florence also stresses that client management can be a difficult aspect of freelancing:
Some clients do not have a sense of concepts such as fair usage and intellectual property ownership. As a result, they’ll want to take advantage. If my work is to be released commercially, I sometimes won’t hear back from a client about fair usage. It’s out of your control once it’s been handed over.
Similarly, Florence highlights the unreasonable expectations that clients sometimes hold for freelancers:
There are sometimes exceedingly difficult clients that have enormous expectations with a not-so-enormous budget. As a result, you have to be able to negotiate and demonstrate your value to such clients.
Florence also notes the inconsistent nature of freelance work as a major difficulty:
The pandemic significantly slowed down my flow of client projects. Likewise, being a freelancer often means adjusting your hourly rate for each project; nothing is ever fixed. You may have good earnings one week, and then not-so-good earnings the next.
Nikki explains how the heavy workload that comes with freelancing can make things difficult:
You have to do everything from start to finish. Every decision is on you and you have to trust your guts on everything you do. You’ll technically work more than you’d work at a job, but then you’d earn more too.
However, Nikki explains how the heavy workload is worth it in the long run:
Freelancing is flexible, so I’d definitely keep it over a day job. Of course, after having your business grow, you can always hire people to work for you.
Justin notes how fierce competition amongst freelancers can be a difficult aspect of the job:
It’s hardest when you are starting out, there are so many others who compete for the same jobs. So don’t be disheartened if you are rejected time and time again.
However, he explains how perseverance and passion can counteract this difficulty:
Having a passion for your work, and a willingness to promote yourself can help in getting work, especially if you know people who would pay for your services.
And there you have it! A full breakdown on the most difficult aspect of freelance life. If you enjoyed this segment, why not check out some of the other posts in our Freelancers’ Corner series?