Top 5 reasons why freelancing is hard

Whenever I tell people that I am a freelancer, they automatically assume that I must be living my life on the beaches with a drink in my hand enjoying the sunlight. 

There’s this rosy picture being painted all around us that being a freelancer is full of joy and happiness. Well, let me give you a sharp jolt of reality by saying it’s not.

Freelancing is hard and let me tell you top 5 reasons for that below:

No guarantee of income

There are no guarantees in freelancing. This is true for beginner freelancers and applies equally well to experienced ones as well. There is no guarantee of work and this no surety of your next paycheck. You have to work really hard to secure clients in freelancing and then equally hard to keep that client with you. Things do get better when you gain some experience though and you learn to live with this. 

Irregular working hours

When you go to a job your working timings are normal. You go at 9 and come back at around 5. This is true in most of the cases. Well, in freelancing there is no fixed working hour. When you have a project at your hand then you have to finish it no matter what. Clients may ask you to update at odd hours and you have to oblige. Sometimes you might have to work late nights continuously for some time to deliver some projects which may impact your health.  As you are always reachable to the client due to personal contact so he might use that to his advantage. With experience however you learn how to define your working hours clearly to the clients as well.

You are the employee and you are the boss

When you freelance you do the work as well as manage it as well. Meaning you are solely responsible for getting the client, doing the work for the client, and in the meantime also promoting your work for getting future clients. In a regular job it’s all about the actual work that you do. Your boss worries about handling the clients and securing the next client. The marketing team of the company might be responsible for marketing but in freelancing you are the marketer, you are the salesperson and you are the actual worker. 

This is the biggest difference between an employee and a freelancer. An employee needs to be worried only about his work and he can switch his mind off work when home but a freelancer is always working. His working mode is never off. When he is not working he is thinking about promoting his work, or getting new clients.

Soft skills matter more than your core skills

It is said that in business or in the real world after a certain level skills don’t matter. The differentiation after a certain point between two people lies in their soft skills. If a person is able to communicate more effectively & express his views clearly he is at an advantage than a person who just has good technical skills but can’t express his views and communicate freely to the client. 

Soft skills include, communication skills, interpersonal skills, time management skills, empathy, listening skills etc. All these skills make a freelancer more valuable than his technical skills. In a job you can get along without being good at soft skills because there are other people to handle those responsibilities but while freelancing you will fail miserably if you don’t cultivate these soft skills.

When you are a freelancer you have to talk yourself to the clients, manage all their expectations by negotiating with them. That requires all the soft skills mentioned above. If you are an introvert like me you might have to work even harder to get good at these skills. And it is not difficult but for some people this is enough to break them. This is a great chance however to develop yourself into a well-rounded individual who has a great personality. 

It’s difficult to explain what you do

When you are a freelancer it’s often difficult to explain the nature of your work to your family members. This holds true for our country where the older generation still thinks that getting a government job is the only obvious and smart choice for us. All your uncles and aunts will never be able to understand how this whole freelancing game works. As soon as they hear that you work online they immediately think that it must be some typing/data entry job. Huh!

So, it’s all darkness then

No, not at all.

Do not let these reasons deter you from starting your freelancing dream. More and more people are leaving their job and trying to work as freelancers. Freelancing has its perks too. The biggest one being freedom. You are never bound by normal working hours and can work at your own time. You find time for other activities which are not possible while being in a regular job. You get to spend more time with your family as you are home mostly. There are a lot of other advantages of being a freelancer which I shall discuss in another article.

I hope all the above points won’t ever stop you from starting your freelance journey because nothing worthwhile in this life comes easy. This is aptly demonstrated by the following quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt:

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

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