I really hate to break it to you, but…
Freelancing isn’t for everyone
I do believe that most people can work well as a freelancer, but only if their personality and a few other critical factors fall into place. There are some people who simply won’t find freelancing a good fit and there are four primary reasons why .
1. Freelancing Turns Out to Be Too Much Work
It is a common misconception that freelancing is an easy way to make a buck while sitting at home in your PJs all day. NO!
If you think this way, get this notion out of your head right now.
Sure, you could sit in your pajamas all day, every day, but you would get bored (and maybe a little ripe). Simply put, after a while the novelty would wear off and you wouldn’t feel terribly professional.
If you are looking for the easy way to make money, then stick to working for someone else. Becoming a freelancer is not for the weak or the undisciplined. It takes hard work to find clients, get the work done well and on time, and keep clients happy.
In fact, while the average American in the private sector works 34.5 hours per week, the average freelancer puts in 46.6 hours per week. More than 40% of freelancers work over 40 hours per week, 25% work more than 50 hours per week, and 7% work more than 60 hours per week. Some of that work is actual paid client work, but a lot of it is related to other aspects of running your freelance business, such as finding clients, marketing, and issuing invoices.
Of course, you have the freedom of working those hours where and when you want, which is one of the biggest reasons we do what we do as freelancers. But remember, no one will be looking over your shoulder to make sure you are getting your work done. No one will be telling you to stay late when the sun is shining outside.
If you can’t handle this on your own, you won’t succeed as a freelancer.
2. You Want Total Stability
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the stability freelancing offers in terms of generating multiple streams of income. This protects you from a faltering economy by ensuring that if one or two clients go under, there are others to fall back on.
But here I am talking about a different type of stability.
Here I am talking about the need for consistency in terms of when that all-too-precious invoice is paid. Freelancing isn’t predictable. Even if you have consistent work, you will not be getting a paycheck every Friday at 5 pm and here’s why:
- You will have different projects going on at any given time.
- These projects will have varying start and end dates.
- The clients will take varying lengths of time to go over the work and provide feedback.
- Revisions may or may not be needed.
- The clients will have different policies with regards to issuing payment. Some might pay right away, some might pay at 30 days past the invoice date.
What does this mean?
You might have one week where you bring $200 into your bank account and another week where you bring in $2,000. One month might see $1,500 and the next might pay out $5,000.
The point is, there is no consistency. You have to be okay with that. You have to plan for it so that your cash flow will always be positive and you will never be without money.
If you can’t handle it, freelancing isn’t for you.
3. You Can’t Deal With the Isolation
Freelancing is a one-person deal.
It will be only you sitting there day in and day out, working on your various projects. Are you OK with this?
I have had many people tell me the toughest thing about freelancing for them is the isolation. Not having anyone to talk to all day, every day. And if you are an extroverted person, this will be even tougher.
Yes, there will be communication with clients at times, but few others if anyone else.
Now, in a past post I have talked about isolation. We all feel it from time to time and there are ways to deal with it. There are different places you can work and some of these are places where you can chat and network with others. But overall, there is a certain amount of isolation that comes with freelancing.
If you can’t handle it, then freelancing might not be for you.
4. You Aren’t Truly Proficient at What You Do
Finally—and this is a big one—you need to have the skills to do your job well. I am committed to helping anyone and everyone who truly wants to be a freelancer, but that is assuming that they have the skills to provide the services they want to provide.
For example, if you are a writer and English isn’t your first language, then you better be absolutely certain you are proficient in English. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen job proposals and profiles written by people who are selling their writing services and clearly cannot write well in English.
The same goes for graphic design, web design, or any other skill set. If you aren’t already incredibly good at what you do, if you haven’t mastered the necessary skills, then you have no business selling your services. And I can’t help you with getting your freelance career off the ground if you can’t do the work—no one can!
Blunt, but Honest
I realize that what I have said in this post is pretty blunt. And it’s meant to be. If you are serious about freelancing, I want you to succeed. I want each and every one of you to establish a great and prosperous freelance career.
But you can’t do that if any of the above are a problem for you.
So, take a good look at why you are freelancing, how you handle these issues, and how well you can provide your service. If you feel confident about all aspects of freelancing or you honestly believe you can improve any of the above reasons why freelancing might not be for you, then you are well on your way to success.
And if you know of any other major roadblocks to succeeding as a freelancer, any other reasons why it might not be a suitable career for a person, please share with us in the comments section below.