25 Solutions to Problems Only Freelancers Face
Freelancing is a considerable gift. No dressing up for work, no commute through traffic, no boss breathing down your neck. But for all of its strong points, freelancing has its share of bumps in the road that can challenge even the best of us.
While most full-time traditional employees can relate to things like traffic, bad coffee, and that one co-worker who always seems out to get you, freelancers’ problems are a much more unique set, and usually require a unique solution.
Here’s a look at 25 freelancer problems, along with remedies that might help you avoid them the next time they crop up.
1. Sick Days = Work Days
If you’re too sick to work, you just don’t make any money that day.
Solution: Take care of yourself! Go to bed on time, eat healthy, and keep your immunizations up to date. Take time off work. Basically everything your mother told you to do as a kid.
Staying home all day can have its own pressure points. Distractions tend to pop up and make us procrastinate in ways we never would at an office.
Solution: Have a set schedule of what you’re going to do every day. Build in time for breaks and lunch and adhere to it.
Related: 6 Unexpected Productivity Tips for Freelancers (Inspired By TED Talks)
3. Work-Life Balance
Once you get into the rhythm of freelancing from home, it can be tough to think of home as anything but your office.
Solution: Make sure you’re taking care of the rest of your responsibilities and don’t just view every free moment as another chance to work.
4. The Tax Man Cometh
It’s up to you to set aside money to pay for social security and other taxes. If you don’t, forget about a refund come April 15.
Solution: Get educated via the IRS’s small business website and set aside money to pay estimated taxes as the year goes.
Related: Taking the Fear Out of Filing Your Tax Return
5. Insurance Isn’t Cheap
When you work for yourself, you have to insure yourself. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 makes health insurance mandatory, although plenty of freelancers would debate the “affordable” part.
Solution: Visit healthcare.gov to find a plan that works for you if you aren’t covered by a spouse’s plan.
6. Not Getting Paid
It’s going to happen eventually. A client is going to cut bait and run after you’ve delivered the work.
Solution: Make this possibility as unlikely as possible, or at least as undamaging as possible. Always use a contract. Ask for a percentage upfront to negate your potential loss. If you’re using an online service like Fiverr, fully employ their mediation and resolution services.
Related: 3 Strategies for Writing Binding Freelance Contracts
7. Being Undercut
No matter what services you’re offering, there will be people out there willing to do work for next to nothing, just to have the job.
Solution: Believe in your own value and don’t work so cheaply that you’re losing money. Clients who appreciate talent are out there.
8. Getting Scammed
Some scams are merely putting a high price on a project to garner interest, while others are out to do serious harm like stealing your identity.
Solution: If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Anyone asking for personal documents better have one amazing reason for it.
9. The Lean Season
You’ll start to notice how things tend to slow down as the year-end holidays approach. People tend to wait until after the new year to get to projects they need done.
Solution: Plan ahead and be willing to work for lower rates in the last two months of the year to make ends meet.
10. Financial Stress
If you’re a busy freelancer (let’s hope so!), things like who’s paid you and who’s waiting on an invoice can sometimes slip through the cracks.
Solution: Fiverr Workspace’s app provides automated reminders when it’s time to send an invoice out, when a client views the invoice, and when it’s overdue.
11. Unbilled Hours
Some clients will ask for more than they’re paying for.
Solution: When you take a job with a fixed rate, estimate how much time it will take and make that is part of your agreement with the client. If they ask for more work that isn’t a correction, charge them for it.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid Scope Creep
12. Not Enough Sleep
Staying up late to finish a project is okay once in a while, but don’t make it a habit.
Solution: Burning the candle at both ends diminishes your brain capacity over time. Take a nap the next day to replenish yourself, even if it’s a quick one.
13. Missing Deadlines
Whether it’s via sickness, a car wreck, a death in the family, or bad weather, you’re going to miss a deadline at some point.
Solution: Don’t panic. Be honest with the client and be willing to go the extra mile, or even employ freelance friends, to get them their project quickly.
14. The Client Who’s Never Satisfied
You’ve probably met them already. Your work doesn’t fit the bill, no matter how many iterations you deliver.
Solution: Be transparent with them about what you’re doing. Include a specified number of revisions in your contract. If they demand the moon, professionally disengage.
Related: 3 Common Frustrations with Client Feedback (And How to Overcome Them)
15. Creative Theft
Ownership of a creative product is something that can come into question.
Solution: Establish early on who will have the creative rights to something unique you design or create. If you are writing blogs for a company, are they going to give you a guest byline or does every word you write become their property? Include clarification in your contract.
16. Separating Work & Home
Whether it’s a light bulb to change, dinner to be prepared, a boo-boo to kiss, or a discussion to be had, it’s difficult for our loved ones to remember that while we’re home, we’re not really home.
Solution: Establish a clear schedule with your family and remind them to treat it like you are away at work.
17. Technical Difficulties
If your freelancing craft is design or programming related, you’ll want to keep up with the latest technology to get the job done right.
Solution: Plenty of companies are now offering their products via the cloud in a pay-as-you-go software-as-a-service (SaaS) format. This will bring down your costs, and you can write the expenses off.
Knowing as much as you can about where you’re getting the most profit, how many repeat customers you have, etc., is vital.
Use a small business analytics tool. This can be a great way to guide your business toward higher paying opportunities.
19. Unpaid Vacations
When you take a vacation as a freelancer, you’re doing two things: Not making any money and being out of touch for any clients that want to talk to you.
Solution: Make your clients aware in advance when you will be unavailable and set up email messages that tell when you’ll be back. You might want to bring along a computer and set aside an hour or two a day to get essential work done as well.
Related: Yes, You Can Take a Vacation as a Freelancer
20. Abusive Clients
People can get mean when they’re behind a keyboard.
Solution: If communication is over an official platform like Fiverr, alert the customer service team. If it’s via email or other forms of personal communication, best disengage from the contract before it gets worse.
21. Intrusive Clients
Some clients forget that this is a professional relationship, and will decide to call you whenever they want to demand updates or make corrections.
Solution: Set up parameters of communication with each client. If they call you at inappropriate times, don’t answer and respond with a courteous email later on. Consider setting up a custom ‘do not disturb’ on your phone for out-of-work hours.
22. Rate of Exchange
When doing business with clients in different countries, you can expect to see payment in different currencies which may affect the value and how quickly you are paid.
Solution: Make sure you and the client agree on the currency. Also, try to use a platform like Paypal that can quickly transfer funds from one currency to another.
23. Marketing Yourself
Getting the word out on who you are and what you do can be tough, especially in a competitive field when you’re first starting out.
Solution: Find market penetration wherever you can, using creative, robust profiles on sites like Fiverr, building contacts through social media, and creating your own website to establish your brand.
24. Getting Bad Reviews
Not every client is going to love your work, and on sites like Fiverr, even a 3-star rating (out of 5) can make you look bad and feel worse.
Solution: Tell your side of the story as objectively as possible in response to a bad review, and contact the client, asking what you could have done better. Make it a learning experience.
25. Getting Fired
Sometimes clients are going to decide you’re not the right person for the job and sever the contract.
Solution: The worst thing to do is go off the deep end and fight to retain your position. The decision has been made, how will you respond? Professional courtesy is the #1 thing in your armory at this point, and remembering that there’ll be another position coming your way soon.
What unique problems have you encountered as a freelancer?