If you are a freelancer, you know the struggle of finding enough work to keep you afloat. It can be a feast or famine lifestyle, and it can be tough to stay afloat during lean times. Do you feel like you are alone with your struggle? You are not! We empathize with the challenges you face because we have been there too! Let’s take a closer look at those pains that make finding enough work so difficult.
When 24 hours in a day is not enough
I wish the day had more than 24 hours! Who hasn’t, huh? But when you freelance, there are only so many hours in the day that you can work. And if you don’t have enough work to fill those hours, it can be difficult to make ends meet. On top of that, “working” does not necessarily mean doing your main tasks in the project. When you run your own business, there are plenty of other activities that need to be taken care of, and, well… there is no one but you to do it. At the end of the day, you wish you could clone yourself, and you end up multitasking a lot! And multitasking is not exactly the most productive and healthy work style.
Speaking of time, another cause of lacking enough profitable projects is a poor time management, and it can be especially difficult when you are a freelancer working from home. It can be hard to stay focused and on task when there are so many distractions around you! Also, a frequent switching between very different tasks absorbs lots of energy. That energy goes to waste, as the mind needs to “reset” and dive into a whole new activity.
Another common mistake with time management is taking on too much work. It is quite a paradox, but more is less when you get overworked, and stressed about the tasks that are piling up. That being said, not taking breaks can be equally harmful. A mind that doesn’t rest gets weary and works much slower and is more vulnerable to a quick burnout.
Fortunately, there are some techniques to learn to improve your time management skills. And by learning how to manage your time effectively, you can get more done in less time! One of these techniques is to create a to-do list for the day and prioritize it. This will help you assess how many things you can actually get done during the day and focus on the most important tasks. If you want to read more about why time management is your first challenge as a freelancer, check out our previous blog post on this topic!
Isolation – trapped in a glass cube
Working from home is a dream for many who have to get up with the chickens to reach their workplaces or spend long hours on the way to their offices. But is it actually such a privilege? For lots of freelancers working from home is a daily bread, and they know quite well the struggles that come with it. Not only can it be harmful for the mental health, but it can also have an impact on the quality of work and profitability of the projects you are taking. While some people, like the introverts, thrive on spending time alone, others can truly suffer from an isolated lifestyle. In other words, for some people, working from home can simply be… lonely.
Besides feeling lonely, working from home can also lead to feelings of isolation from the outside world. When you are not interacting with people on a regular basis, it can be easy to feel cut off from the rest of humanity. In the past, working from home did not get much attention from the researchers. But the Covid-19 pandemic brought a gigantic wave of remote work. This is when multiple studies around the so called “home office” have been performed. Some of the results point out the increased level of stress and bad decision making as the symptoms of prolonged isolation time. You can read more about the effects of remote work in the Forbes’ article The Untold Side of Remote Working: Isolation and Lack of Career Progression.
You may think that not living alone will save you from those effects. You could not be further from the truth! Even though there are people around you, you may experience the feeling of isolation on the professional level. Not having working buddies to support you, help you solve problems, or even just take over part of your duties when the heavy workload smashes you… that all can be truly painful. A simple example of such situation are the technical issues. While technology can make freelancing easier in many ways, it can also add another layer of frustration when things go wrong. In the office, usually there is an IT specialist that comes to the rescue. Or at least one of your colleagues turns out to have more technical knowledge to solve the problem. As a freelancer, we are on our own, and some of the troubles can exceed our skills.
The data we have just provided might be discouraging, but do not fall into despair, my dear! Working from home does not have to mean you are doomed, as long as you take right actions to prevent the “side-effects”. First, make sure you have enough contact with the outside world and other people outside of your working hours. Create some healthy habits: meet and call your friends regularly and engage in fun activities like group sports or interests’ groups. Physical activity is equally important, so make sure you find some time every day for exercising, riding a bike, yoga, or a nice long walk. And do not forget to take breaks at work – they help clearing your mind and staying productive. Even house chores can be combined with your professional work if you plan your time effectively. Doing some cooking or folding the laundry can be very relaxing after an intense hour of focus.
Mirror, mirror on the wall… what is the income of next fall?
The real curse of the freelancing – financial insecurity. Since you are not employed by a single company, you don’t have the same stability that comes with a regular paycheck. This can make budgeting and planning for your future difficult. Some people claim that the unpredictability of freelancing can be both good and bad. On one hand, it’s exciting because you never know what new project or client will come your way next. But on the other hand, it is scary because you never know where your next paycheck will come from. For most of the freelancing professions, projects come in the flows, and there are high and low seasons. You might have too much work one month and not enough the next. This is why lots of freelancers try to plan their projects to earn more during the “good months”, so that they will have a security net when the “bad months” come. It is common to call it the “feast or famine cycle”.
And here comes the sad news: some studies show that financial stress can have a terrible impact on your health. It can contribute to some serious physical conditions, such as: cancer, diabetes, insomnia, psoriasis, gastrointestinal problems, weight fluctuations, eating disorders or high blood pressure that can lead to heart disease or attack. And as if that was not enough, it also has a negative impact on your mental and emotional health.
You may be surprised, though, that some of the freelancers put the financial insecurity into freelancing myths that only hold people from leaving their day-jobs and start their own business. We can say, for sure, that the financial insecurity doesn’t have to be your problem, if you manage your business plan well. But it definitely takes lots of experience and learning how to plan your budget and build your leads inventory, until you are able to cross the money off from your list of worries.
Here are some tips of where to start if you want to improve your financial stability. First, analyze your monthly budget. Once you review it you will be able to define a monthly income necessary to meet all your needs. Remember to include an extra percentage for savings that will help you achieve your long-term plans, like buying a new car or renovating your house, but also for the unexpected expenses that may occur. With a desired income set, you are able to calculate the number of projects or hours you need to work per month to achieve it. If that number is too high, maybe you should consider adjusting your prices? Under-pricing your services is a common problem among the freelancers that struggle with financial stability.
Hello, I’m open to work!
Finally, we reach one of the most painful parts: finding the clients. Have you ever felt like you have reached out to everyone you know, and you are still not getting any bites? It is discouraging, isn’t it? Well, finding clients is not an easy task. And, of course, without clients there are no projects. When you freelance, you have to be your own salesperson. And the truth is, not everyone is made for it! Marketing yourself to potential clients can be time-consuming and expensive (if you want to use professional tools). And you have to be prepared for the fact that not every sell will be successful. Sometimes it is hard not to take it personally when a client rejects your proposal or portfolio. Did you know that the salespeople are actually trained to learn how to not to let rejection have an impact on their emotions?
One could say that once you find clients and land a project, you are all set but… working with the client is when the fun begins. Difficult clients are one of the most common problems faced by freelancers. You might encounter clients who are unhappy with your work, who are difficult to communicate with, or who refuse to pay you for your work. After all, working with people always carries the risk of misunderstandings or conflicts.
Of course, there are plenty of selling hacks and tips to make your sell more successful. The main idea behind all of them is to be more honest and straightforward. If you resonate with the problem of finding clients, we recommend you checking our previous article “10 Ways to Find Reliable Clients when You Freelance“.
Stay tuned to our blog for more freelancing advices
As you can see, finding work to make your income stable is definitely not an easy task, and we fully understand it. That’s why we are creating the best tool ever for the freelancers! It will make your work more predictable and give you the peace of mind that comes with a steady income. And while you are waiting for it, make sure you stay tuned to our blog series, to learn more about the freelancing and the ways to improve your business!