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3 Challenges that Freelancers Can Face (And How to Overcome Them)

How to find enough freelance work?

In an ideal world, you would find your time as a freelancer completely filled with constant, steady work. Sometimes, unfortunately, that really isn’t the case - some months absolutely rushed off your feet and others quite the opposite! 

Variety in the spice of life.

One way to overcome this is by combining ad-hoc work with projects for longer term clients. Ideally, your long-term clients will keep coming back to you with new and exciting projects on a regular basis. But it’s good to have a backup for those months when they have less work for you. Ad-hoc work can come in all shapes and sizes, but one great way of obtaining this type of work is by using popular freelance websites such as Fiver, PeoplePerHour and Upwork.

Long-term retainer contracts

Obtaining a retainer from your client can be a great way to guarantee peace of mind. A retainer can provide you with a fairly stable level of guaranteed income, which you can then build on with flexible, ad-hoc work projects. Having a retainer can also give you the confidence to pursue interesting, high-level freelance work that may have been too risky for you to build your freelance schedule around.

Improving Your Marketing Efforts

This means both passive and active marketing efforts. Active marketing is about directly reaching out to potential clients. In addition to applying to open freelance roles (which you are probably already doing) this means pitching ideas to people and organisations who you think would be a good fit for your skill set. Passive marketing, on the other hand, includes tasks like growing your following on social media, working on your portfolio, and improving your SEO. The key, of course, is to get as many eyes on your profile as possible. The result? When a manager needs help with a new freelance task, your name will be the first they think of.

Working for Yourself Can Get Lonely

Activities in your downtime

Activities can serve multiple purposes. Socialising, getting yourself out of the house, exercising, these are all great activities for your mind and body. If you can engage in activities that allow you to meet other freelancers (or just anyone who has a variable schedule) then that’s an additional bonus. Online communities, hosted on social media (Facebook and Reddit) or specific websites (like Meetup, Footy Addicts) are a great way to find your next sport or social activity!

Working outside of the home

This one has an obvious solution - get out of the house! But where to go, though? Co-working spaces are the latest phenomenon that may be the answer you are looking for. Thanks in part to the pandemic, there is a lot of choice here. You have the giants like WeWork, smaller brands such as Uncommon and Huckletree, and specific-purpose brands such as the women-only AllBright. These days, Co-working’ can be expanded too - plenty of cafes and even bars are becoming increasingly friendly to those with a laptop and an afternoon’s work to get through - just check on a venue's website or social media for clues.

Living with others

The three horsemen of the freelance apocalypse: working alone, working from home and living alone. For those who work a 9-5 job, coming home to a relaxing, peaceful flat for some ‘me-time’ can be very rewarding. For some of those who have spent their day with just a screen for company, it may not be as ideal. Therefore, having a group of people to casually hang out and socialise with when you are not at your desk, can be really useful. When it comes to finding a flatshare, websites such as SpareRoom will be very useful, often allowing you to communicate with your potential flatmates before deciding whether to move in or not. Some cities now even offer ‘co-living’ spaces - take a look at The Collective example for one of the most popular examples of this.

Managing time effectively

Procrastination When Working From Home

This is a problem centred around the remote work part of freelancing. A combination of distractions at home and being your own boss can be fatal to productivity. Therefore, you have to be strict with yourself, giving yourself deadlines and keeping yourself on task. This isn’t always the easiest thing to, however. Luckily, there’s help at hand, with apps such as Todoist (for organising your tasks each day), Engross (best known for its Pomodoro timer) and RescueTime (analyse your online/mobile habits). The native apps on your phone can also be used, from monitoring screen time to simply turning off your notifications!

Evenings and Weekends

Many freelancers end up working unusual hours. Aside from the increased flexibility it gives you, (completing chores during the daytime) being available to work longer hours can increase the money you earn, which is in direct contrast to most full-time jobs. But you need to still balance this time effectively to avoid the risk of burnout. Therefore, make sure you have downtime every day when notifications are turned off, and don’t neglect the opportunity to take holidays.

Juggling multiple projects

The nature of the beast for a freelancer - you will (probably) end up working with multiple clients on multiple projects, each requiring a specific amount of your time. However, these projects may all differ in scope, effort, and consistency of work. Therefore, devise a schedule that maximises your time on the current projects that need it, so you don’t end up stressing or falling behind on any one task. Even better, once you master this juggling act, it’s a transferable skill that will help you win future work, both freelance and full-time.

At YJCollective, we support our freelancers in navigating these challenges so they can focus on what they love... their craft!