It’s easy to see the appeal of freelancing. You control who you work with, and the projects you take on. You may have even gone into freelancing with the perception that you would have so much more freedom and flexibility. That’s exactly why between 20-30% of the working-age population in the United States and the EU-15, pick up some independent work.
Yet, the very same folks often report that their perceptions don’t always reflect the reality. As a freelancer, you may have found that you’re working longer hours and stressed out over finances.
Here are four signs that freelancing isn’t working for you right now, and some strategies for fixing those problems.
1. You’re struggling to find clients
You’ve got the skills, the equipment and everything else you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work. The only problem is that you’re just not landing clients. In fact, up to 49% of creative freelancers admit that securing enough gigs is among their biggest daily challenges.
So what gives? There could be several things going on here. Maybe you’re not reaching out to the right audience. It could be that your online presence simply isn’t very noticeable and you need to work on increasing your website’s authority. Perhaps your pricing is off.
The best thing to do here is to find a competitor who is doing well. Then, conduct a bit of analysis. Here are a few things to research:
How much are they charging for their services?
What kind of content are they publishing on their website?
How are they advertising their services?
Where are they on social media? Who are they following? Who is following them?
Do they have an online portfolio? What have they included in it?
This information will tell you how successful freelancers in your niche are presenting themselves to the world, who they are building relationships with, and how they are reaching out to their customers.
2. The isolation is getting to you
Sure, it’s nice to work in your pajamas, and you definitely can’t beat the commute. If you’ve dealt with annoying coworkers, the first few months of freelancing can feel like a dream. Unfortunately, for many loneliness and isolation sets in after awhile. What once felt like a blessing can become quite depressing.
So work on creating a better social life. Isolation tends to lead to more isolation. Make a dedicated effort to spend more time with friends and relatives.
Remember that freelancing doesn’t have to be lonely. There’s no reason to stay isolated at home. If you’re location independent, take advantage of that. Go to the coffee shop. Work in the park. Even if you’re not directly socializing with people, simply being among them can be a very effective way to stave off feelings of isolation.
3. Your finances are too tight
When you move into freelancing, you gain quite a bit. Unfortunately, you lose a guaranteed income as well. On top of that, you have to cover new expenses such as marketing, your retirement fund and your health insurance, which can get pricey.
If you don’t have an emergency fund to start with, or you lose an important client, things can get tight quickly.
If money is tight, it can be tempting to find a full time gig somewhere, and give up on your dream of freelancing. Don’t rush into that. There are other solutions:
Take a look at your expenses. What can you cut back on or cut out entirely? Are you getting the best deal when it comes to phone cable and internet? Can you cut back on meals out, or make your coffee at home?
Next determine what you can do to increase your income. Is there a new skill you can pick up quickly? Maybe it’s time to focus on landing a couple of long term clients. If you can work on a monthly retainer, that’s a great way to guarantee some regular income.
Finally, take a look at your prices. Have you been low-balling things in order to land clients? That may be working against you. You may be losing clients who assume you don’t have the same skill and experience as your competitors.
4. You don’t have time for anything else
As a freelancer, you have to step into many roles. You’re your own receptionist, personal assistant, salesperson and financial guru. Even when you’re finished working for clients, you’ve still got tons of work to do. When you find that you have little to no time for socializing, hobbies, or even winding down in front of the television, you might question whether or not you made the right choice.
The problem might be that you’re taking on too much work. You may have started under the assumption that you needed to say yes to every client and every project. However, at some point that has to end. It’s okay to be choosy over the work that you take on in order to find work life balance.
Don’t let frustrations and roadblocks chase you from your dream of freelancing back to a full time gig. You made this choice for a good reason. Instead, try out some of the strategies here, or brainstorm a few of your own.