Freelancing is not for everyone. It can start off as a nice idea to be able to escape the cubicle once and for all (rather than just finding a job with another company sitting in another cubicle). Or you think that you have that independence streak and want to strike out on your own.
Burning Bridges & Cannot Go Back
Wanting it and being suitable to it are two entirely different things. Sometimes it’s just a nagging feeling that you’ve made a grave error by quitting your job and going it alone. The regret of that and not being able to get your old job back can keep you pressing forward when you should have quit already.
People Skills Aren’t Great
If you happen to be one of those workers who just likes to be given a task and left alone to complete it, rather than working as a part of team, then you may think you suit freelancing. But unless you build a new team, or even one extra person to be your mouthpiece, then you’ll have to do all the people contact and marketing for your new business on your own
Marketing Is Tough
Marketing may be a facet of freelancing that you never thought of ahead of time and have zero experience of. Have you read books or taken courses on marketing? Do you understand how to market online, which is entirely different to marketing in the offline world?
What’s your knowledge of the online world? Do you know your way around Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and all the other social media sites? Do you know how to use them? Do you know how to use them effectively to draw people to your services without seeming overly promotional and annoying people?
Can You Handle Being Alone?
For people who like dealing with others, but knowing that the more time you interact with clients, the less you actually get done is difficult to accept. You need to limit your interactions to get more done and to pay the bills.
This tends to isolate you. Do you have a group of friends outside of work? Do you keep in touch with people outside of your job that you can talk to about your freelancing experiences? Or is your only business talk with existing work colleagues that you’ll lose relevance with once you start freelancing full-time?
You need a good balance with your time so that you get away from work and have ways to socialize. Whether that’s a local gym or chess club (offline), you’ll most likely need an outlet away from freelancing.
Are You Not A Self-Starter?
You may have worked with a team leader or a boss looking over your shoulder if you slack off. That may have been your experience for years, even decades. To suddenly switch to full time freelancer with no one looking over your shoulder can be a difficult adjustment.
You may discover that you’re not a self-starter and need a kick in the pants to move forward. If that’s so, then the only time you’ll likely get that is when a client is chasing up delivery when you’ve overdue.
Depending on the size of the project, it may be difficult to complete an assignment when you’re starting it when it’s already overdue. Besides, for complex projects, you won’t produce your best work when under the gun.
Often we think we deliver our best when under pressure, but that’s not usually the case. That’s our false impression; usually people deliver average or below par work when under pressure to deliver.
With some people, they procrastinate on certain things in their life. These can be things that they simple don’t enjoy doing. Alternatively, it could be out of fear of failure, fear of success or fear of being judged.
These may be feelings that you’ve not discovered that you had before because as an employee you knew you couldn’t just show up for work and sit there whilst doing nothing. You had to get busy like the other worker bees around you. You might have been able to slack off at times, but not completely.
When you’re a freelancer, you can slack off to the point where you don’t market for new clients or fail to complete assignments in a timely manner, losing the clients you obtained in the first place.
Lack of Freedom
One of the attractions of freelancing is the freedom to work when you want, which days you want and the hours that you want. Depending on the kind of work you take on, that may actually not be all that true. This may come as a disappointment to new freelancers.
Unless you are highly paid which lets face it most freelancers (especially new ones) are not, then you’ll need to bill as many hours as possible. If you mostly deal with people in your own country, then their office hours become your office hours.
If however you plan to travel and work from anywhere, then depending whether you situate yourself in Latin America (hours close to America but poor infrastructure) or Asia (better infrastructure but many hours ahead of most clients’ time-zone) then you’ll find things a mite bit more tricky.
You could end up working afternoons, evenings and even burning the midnight oil in order to match the office hours of your clients. This plays havoc with your social life, sleep patterns and planning your free time.
Lack of Routine
You may want to get away from the 9-5 Monday to Friday routine. What many self-employed and freelance people discover is that the day and the week never seems to end.
Clients will happily Skype message you on Saturday evening at 11PM local time (it’s maybe only 3PM on the weekend where they are) and expect an update on their work assignment. They may not take kindly to being ignored until Monday. They won’t care it’s Saturday evening and you should be enjoying some time off. In this sense, work never sleeps.
You can work the hours you want and have your clients understand that your hours don’t match their hours, but if you’re in the type of industry that expects prompt response times on work deliverables then you’ll have a tough time finding and holding onto clients.
In order to function effectively, as with most freelancers, you’ll need to set their own working hours at least, and probably working days (and days they’re not working too).
If you feel your week is out of control and you have to keep working and working, then your motivation towards work when you start each morning won’t get you very far. You can end up putting off work all day because you secretly don’t feel like you get any time to yourself.
Get some regular working hours and stick to them. You’ll most likely discover the law that shows that work expands to fill the available time, so if you restrict the work hours you have available, you can hustle more to complete the assignments on time. This ensures that you’ll get the down-time that you need. Counter-intuitive but often found to be true when you try it.