These are the main disadvantages of going freelance – and how to overcome them

Five Disadvantages Of Going Freelance And How You Can Overcome Them

Rosie Allabarton

Distractions - especially super cute ones - are inevitable when you start working from home.

The second installment in our series on freelancing looks at some of the disadvantages experienced by freelancers and what steps you can take to succeed as a self-employed professional

In the first part of our series on freelancing we talked about the positives of the freelance lifestyle: autonomy, freedom, work-life balance, experience, high hourly rates. No one can argue that being your own boss doesn’t have fantastic benefits. But what are the disadvantages? And do they outweigh the enormous advantages we talked about previously? In this post we’ll be looking at the five biggest disadvantages to going freelance, and what you can do to make the best of them.

1. You don’t get paid when you go on holiday or when you’re sick. One of the drawbacks to working freelance is the lack of benefits you would otherwise receive when working for a company. However, when you become your own boss you are much less likely to need time off. Stress is a huge contributor to poor health, and once this has been eliminated - from not having to deal with that tyrant of a boss, the frustration of working with incompetent colleagues, or the unhappiness caused from working long hours trapped in a soulless office doing a job you hate - you are statistically far less likely to get sick. You’ll be doing a job you love and on your own terms, so that common cold that was a good excuse to stay home before isn’t going to hold you back when you’re running your own business. If you do get ill, the higher salary you’ll be earning means you’re more likely to have some savings put aside to cover for this. In terms of holidays, because you can go as and when you want, you can book cheaper last minute deals or go away off-season when it’s considerably less expensive.

2. Your income will be irregular Unlike a regular 9 - 5 job, your income as a freelancer will depend entirely on the amount of work you do. The good thing about this is that you are in control of how much you earn. Someone working for a firm can’t suddenly decide to earn more money if they want to, but you can! If you find you’re short of money one month, you can take on more work, increase your rates, accumulate more clients through your network or put out more enquiries. If you have more than enough money the next month you take on less work. Your finances are totally within your control.

3. It can be lonely working from home on your own all day. If you don’t like being by yourself, at least some of the time, freelancing may not be for you. However many freelancers are not stuck at home all day. There are meetings with current clients, interviews with potential clients and meetups with other freelancers who you may be working with to attend. Many freelancers don’t work from home all the time anyway. There are lots of co-working spaces available where many freelancers have a desk and can treat the environment like their own personal office. Co-working spaces are great for networking, acquiring knowledge from other successful freelancers on how they work and making friends. Cafes are also an option. It’s good to try a few different places and see what works best for you.

4. The whole business rests on you, not just the job you are being paid to do by your client. You’ll be in charge of all the accounting, sales, stationery and even coffee. See this as an opportunity to learn every aspect of running your own business. However, if tax and numbers aren’t your thing, hire an accountant. Sales is a crucial part of working for yourself as no-one else is going to sell your skills for you. Read up on it, learn from friends and network at every possible opportunity, either online or in person. Attend every single event you are invited to.

5. Some of your clients might be late payers. Late-paying clients are an inevitability of a freelancer’s working life. But there are things you can do to minimize the opportunities people have to pay late before you’ve even committed to working with them. Prevention is better than cure and making your position clear from the get-go could save a lot of chasing up later. So make sure your payment policies are clear on your original contract with the client, then both parties know where they stand from the start. Try to accept as many different forms of payment as possible so that the client has no excuse not to pay. If you are able to include credit card transactions in this list of possible ways to pay, do it. Then a client can pay you even if they don’t currently have the funds themselves. It is also possible to ask for part of your payment before you start working for the client; e.g. 30% when the contract is signed, 30% after an agreed point, and 30% on completion of the project. That way you are securing a steady income for yourself throughout the time it takes you to do the project as well as after. It is also possible to withhold the project until you receive your final instalment.

Going freelance isn’t easy, but once you’re there the rewards speak for themselves. What have your experiences been of working freelance? Do you have any advice for people thinking about making the leap? Would you add anything to our lists of advantages or disadvantages?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so comment below!

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Rosie Allabarton

Rosie Allabarton

Contributer to the CareerFoundry Blog