Freelancing Pros and Cons (& How to Turn Disadvantages Around)
Freelancing is popular, but it's not for everyone.
Freelancers often have to deal with the disadvantages of being self-employed and working alone.
However, freelancers can also turn these disadvantages into advantages! In this blog post, we'll cover the pros and cons of freelancing - including how you can take advantage of what might seem like an obstacle in order to be more productive.
Advantages of Freelancing
First, let's list out the advantages of freelancing:
Call your own shots (you decide everything --from your personal branding to your prices; from clients you choose to work with to the actual work that you'd like to do).
You'll end up making a lot more than your regular job (Depending on how you approach freelancing, how much you hustle, your personality, your style, the work you do, and the market you focus on
You can be truly location-independent (especially with any kind of digital work -- work done on the computer -- you might do. Most applicable to freelance writers, freelance designers, freelance developers, and more).
You have the freedom to work at time blocks during the day that you are most comfortable with.
You get to work in your pajamas (or shorts and t-shirt, or whatever you're most comfortable in) if that's what it takes.
Now, here are the other aspects of freelancing that you might have to deal with:
Disadvantages of Freelancing
Regardless of what you've heard, it's not all walk in the park when it comes to freelancing.
If you are just starting out and looking for freelancing opportunities, it could be overwhelming for you.
For those who are already doing freelancing, they might be doing "something" but it might not be the best you could be doing.
Even for those freelancers who've already hit the upper ceiling of freelancing, you can very imagine that they can only do "so much".
Apart from the above, here are some disadvantages of freelancing:
You are responsible for everything (from sales, marketing, doing the actual work, getting paid for your freelancing work, and more). Earning much less than you thought? You are the reason for that.
The primary aspect of success in freelancing has a lot to do with the number of projects you can get. Not everyone does that well enough.
You might actually love the idea of working for yourself, but there's the aspect of being lonely and isolating yourself from the rest of the world (for some, this is great). For others, it might not be.
No, you really don't get the "freedom" (except for a few things like what you wear and where you work). Instead of one boss to report to, you now have 18 different bosses you'll be reporting to. Some of them can be clients from hell.
Most people claim that you'll be able to decide your own "hours" during the day. The reality is that you'll end up working a lot harder, put in excruciatingly long hours, and have to deal with a lot more than just the "get work. deliver" aspect of freelancing.
There's a "real" limit to how much you can make as a freelancer. Even for the worst best freelancers. It's not a scalable operation (not even with the productized services model and an agency model that some freelancers tend to approach when they are loaded with work).
How to Turn Freelancing Disadvantages into Advantages
There are ways to get out of the "freelancing disadvantages" zone. First, remember that you don't always have to limit yourself to whatever you thought you should limit yourself to.
Second, the freelancing disadvantages are only hurdles but it's not like they are insurmountable. If you have the will, the mindset, and the willingness to adapt (and change), you can turn your freelancing disadvantages into highly profitable freelancing moves.
Here's how (taking some of the most common disadvantages into consideration):
The freelancing freedom conundrum
You quit your job thinking that it's too much work, or that there's politics. Or maybe you don't like your boss. Your reasons are yours, and no one's judging that.
But thinking that freelancing gives you freedom is a wee bit untrue. While freelancing does all you to work from home (or anywhere, including the white sandy beaches of Borocay) and wear whatever you want, that's all the freedom you get.
You still have to work. You'd still need to hustle. You'll put in more hours in a day that you'd grind at a day job.
Yet, there's a way out. To really get freedom, do this:
Work your way up to a point where you can start teaching people how to do what you do. If you are a copywriter, start a copywriting course online. If you are an illustrator or a designer, sell digital products (such as vector arts, design templates, and more). If you are a freelancer developer, create SaaS products, WordPress plugins, Shopify Apps, Webflow templates, or whatever it is that you are good at.
Make your money work for you in a way that you truly achieve financial freedom. Go aggressive and put most of your savings into well-chosen investment vehicles. Your money starts working for you in a way that you don't even have to do freelancing anymore (if you don't want to).
Managing Isolation That Comes with Freelancing
This affects more freelancers than you might think. There are Reddit threads on this, and it makes for a real problem (enough to even make you quit freelancing in some cases). Here are a few ways to get out of the isolation problem that comes with freelancing.
If you have a family, be sure to spend quality time with them.
Join some meetups or other local groups related to your freelancing field of expertise (or simply just go for a walk and talk about what's on your mind).
Ask friends if they want to help out remotely in any way that you can ask them to. This way, you'll be in touch with those who are close to you.
Work out of a co-working space. You'll often meet other freelancers or entrepreneurs trying to run their own businesses.
Find other hobbies that involve things you can do offline (such as gardening, exercise clubs, social hangouts, 4 x4 offroading, travel, and more)
Yes, it's real. There are times when you'll suffer what's called "freelancer burnout". You can't seem to bring yourself to work anymore. You feel crushed.
This freelancer burnout comes in because of excessive work, too many hours spent, a weird mix of bad clients, unpaid invoices, the uncertainty that comes with freelancing, and more.
How do you avoid this? Here are a few ways:
Know your limits.
Take care of yourself. This means having breaks, doing things you enjoy outside work (hobbies), and setting boundaries between freelancing duties and personal life.
Stay resilient to stressors that are beyond your control or responsibility. Learn from them but don't let them ruin your day.
Only choose to work with clients and projects that you "feel good" about. Doing something for the sake of it usually falls flat on your face.
The Clients-from-Hell Problem
Way too many freelancers get bad clients. Some learn how to deal with them. Many don't. Those who don't fall out of the highway sooner rather than later.
The "clients from hell" problem is so real that there's even a website that documents the fun side of bad clients (so you can have a laugh or two).
Here are a few ways to avoid bad clients when it comes to freelancing:
Fire the bad clients (it's easier than you think if you ignore the mess that usually forms in your mind)
Remember that you are an entrepreneur (and not a glorified worker who calls yourself whatever). You decide who you want to work with and who you don't want to work with. So, do make the decisions on a regular basis.
Have a screening process to "screen" or "vet" your clients. Start with a kickoff video call (yes, you need a video call). Get to talk to clients first. Try to understand the clients themselves, their goals, their projects, the types of personality that your clients can be, and more. Just a get a feel for the kind of person your potential client is.
You don't want a single "bad" client in your life. There's no justification to ever work for someone toxic (even if that client is the only client you have and they pay you $560,000 per year).
These are just a few ways you can turn freelancing disadvantages to your advantage.
What are some of the tips you can add?
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