Independence. Working your own schedule. A chance to be your own boss. The positives of being a freelancer are well known, but we often forget about the problems that can also present themselves to the freelance sector.
With that in mind, here are five of the ten challenges that every freelancer faces in their working life (and the solutions).
One of the biggest things that is rarely spoken of in the freelancing world is a need to be talented at just about everything. Finance, writing, marketing and even sales need to be part and parcel of your everyday activities.It can be fun, after all, it gives you a chance to break away from the mundane activities of your everyday freelancing tasks to try your hand at something new. But, it can also be a lot of work to try and learn all of these skills as just one person.
The solution to this is varied and it depends on your preferences. However, a good way of dealing with this, typically, is to have a set day of the week which you set aside for these tasks that are outside the norm of your typical working day. That way the flow of your other work is not as easily disrupted, whilst also allowing you to take the opportunity to complete the ‘housework’ that keeps your freelancing efforts in motion.
Not every client will be the height of sensibility when it comes to what they demand of you. Some will ask for the moon and fully expect you to get on a ladder to get it for them. And no, they probably won’t be offering you great compensation in order to achieve this. This is especially the case if you are only just entering the world of freelance and don’t quite know how to manage client expectations yet.
But, managing expectations is the true key here. Set clear, distinctive, outlines of what you can and cannot do as a freelancer. And if your client asks you to step outside of them? Simply refer back to this outline, point out to your client that it is out of your realm of expertise or budget, and tell them plainly that you cannot easily fly to the moon and back again.
Sometimes, not meeting these demands can be perceived as a case of not fulfilling your end of a perceived or written agreement. In this case, this may lead to your client taking legal action against you. For these situations, it is always important to have insurance in place in order to support you through such a case.
You do the work, you ensure that everything is as perfect as can be and that your client’s brief is met in full. In fact, sometimes you may end up feeling even a little proud of the work you have achieved on that particular project or piece of work. Then it comes the dreaded moment: asking for payments. This can be very awkward, but even more so when you realise that your client is not exactly willing to actually provide you with the payment you deserve.
In fact, late payments are an epidemic for the freelancer community. With an estimated £2.5 billion loss every year to the UK economy as a result. These late payments, complete non-payments, and everything in between causes the end of many freelancers and small business entrepreneurs each and every year. So, what is the solution to this obvious problem?
Sometimes honesty is the best policy when it comes to clients not paying what they owe. Explain, politely, how a late payment can negatively affect your finances and you may find that this speeds up the process. Otherwise, a more direct approach is needed; such as, a reminder email a few days prior to the due date or even an invoice may be required to prompt payment on time. A late fee can also be a great way to encourage your clients not to miss the payment date.
Most importantly, always have a written agreement of payment on hand that you can refer back to. Especially if a client denies agreeing to pay for your services or pays a reduced rate. This can be a client contract, but even an email can count as a form of written agreement and so always save these (even printing them out if needs be) just in case this situation arises.
Read our recent article ‘steps freelancers can take to deal with late payments’.
Read our supporting recent article ‘When and how to add late payment interest to your invoices’.
4) Being stuck in a bidding war can be challenging
On the subject of money, every job, task and client you ever have as a freelancer will come as a result of an intense and hard-won bidding war. You are in a fight with at least three to four other freelancers for every project you win, which can be an exhausting way to live, but necessary in order to keep yourself afloat.
There’s no way to eliminate the competition completely, but you can make yourself stand out above the rest. Build and maintain a good website, market it well and you may find that clients end up coming to you rather than the other way around.
Creating quality, customised, proposals is also another way to stand out from the crowd of simple emails and lacklustre cold calling. Avoiding sites that require you to bid to ‘win’ a job is also good advice, even if you are just starting out. As these require lots of effort and very little reward.
From your mother in law to your best friends, questions of when you will get a ‘real’ job seems to be a popular dinnertime conversation. Despite the fact that you’re making money and paying the bills, not getting up for a commute every day seems to the real indicator that you are not someone who is gainfully employed.
Not every challenge that you face as a freelancer has an obvious solution. Especially as, this one in particular, involves changing the mindset of those involved. As such, perseverance, working hard and proving your point, in the long run, is the only way to see an end to this problem… eventually. As your freelancing efforts flourish, your little enterprise grows, and you continue to thrive people will realise that you are very much employed. You simply have to hold your head up high through the jokes until then!
Look out for Part 2!
One of the problems facing a freelancer should not be as a result of a lack of insurance, so don’t hesitate to get in touch regarding the best freelancer insurance for you.
Call our friendly team today on 0333 321 1403 for details and a quote.