Monday, August 24, 2009

10 Reasons Freelancing Might Not Be for You

To many people, freelancing may seem like a dream job. There's no punching a time clock. You can take off when you want. If you don't feel like doing something, you can turn down the job. For those that actually attempt a freelancing career, reality may come as a rude shock. So before you tell your boss exactly what they can do with their job, check out these ten reasons freelancing might not be for you.

You like interaction.

Freelancing is lonely work. You spend a lot of time alone. What little talking you do will most likely be with clients. If you do online work, the majority of your contact with clients will be through email or instant messaging programs. Since starting my freelancing journey four months ago, I've only talked to two people on the phone.

You are not proactive.

In other words, you are not a go-getter. It's extremely rare to have freelance jobs just fall into your lap. Most of the time you have to do the work of finding jobs and submitting an application or resume. While freelance job boards and jobs that connect clients with freelancers do exist, you still have to put yourself out there.

In some cases, you will have to be persistent. Don't be afraid to follow up on a potential job if you do not hear back after applying. Your application or resume may have been lost along the way or the client may be sitting back to see who takes the initiative. One of my current writing jobs was landed as a result of sending a follow up email reiterating my interest and asking if they needed any additional information to make their decision.

You have a lot going on.

This isn't always a barrier to a freelance career if you have good organization and time management skills. There are many freelancers, myself included, that successfully balance freelancing with family and other responsibilities. However, the more you have going on, the less time you have to devote to your freelance work.

You are unorganized.

Organization is an important skill, especially if you want to get paid for your work. You need to keep up with what work you've done and how much you are owed for it. For some clients, you may be asked to submit an invoice. When writing for content sites, you often have to click a pay out button before you will receive payment.

You also need to keep your income and expenses organized for tax time. Even if you plan to drop everything in the lap of your accountant, you need to be sure you have all the information handy. after doing the taxes for my husband's business for the last few years, I can tell you from experience that your accountant will not enjoy spending more time finding missing information than actually doing the taxes.

Your skin is thin.

With so many people drawn to freelancing, you may be going up against a large number of applicants for a job. Some may have more experience or offer lower rates than you are willing to. In some cases, it may come down to who offers the quickest turnaround time. Rejection is a sad fact of life in the freelancing world. Even big names in freelancing occasionally get turned down for a job.

You don't have good time management skills.

Time management skills are critical, especially if freelancing isn't the only thing on your plate. Missing a deadline is a cardinal sin in the freelance world. While a single missed deadline as a result of a situation beyond your control will most likely be excused, a reputation for constantly missing deadlines will be fatal to your career. Word gets around about unreliable freelancers and it can quickly become difficult to find work.

You expect a full-time income from the start.

While a full-time income from the start isn't completely impossible, it is highly unlikely. It takes time to build your reputation. Income usually grows as you gain more experience and visibility in the field.

Your communication skills aren't up to par.

While the majority of your contact with clients will most likely be through email or internet messaging, good communication skills are required. You need to be able to understand their needs, asking pertinent questions if necessary to clarify. If taking on a large job, you need to be prepared to update the client on your progress at frequent intervals. In all communications with clients, you need to maintain a professional image.

You need supervision.

As a freelancer, you'll be given a job and expected to do it. While asking questions for clarification is to be expected, most clients do not want to hold your hand as you do the job. If you can't work without someone telling you how and when to do something, you're probably not going to do well as a freelancer.

You're gullible.

There are scams that specifically target freelancers. Most of these revolve around the scammer posting an ad for a position and asking for samples as part of the application process. In reality, there is no position and you have just provided the scammer with free work, which they turn around and submit as their own or sell to others. If you're the gullible type, you will spend more time getting scammed than actually making money freelancing.

*Image by Svilen Mushkatov.


Kristine said...

Love this post. So true. I don't think any freelancer is immune to falling into one of the traps above, but overcoming each on a daily basis is important.

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