Freelancing is great, but it sucks sometimes.
You’ve got bills to pay, but the money isn’t forthcoming because you have no regular source of income.
You live at the mercy of clients. There are no new clients giving you new jobs, and the old clients are terminating old contracts at will without your consent.
Even when there are jobs, the pay is barely enough to sustain you, let alone your family.
In this edition of Good Freelancing, some freelancers discuss the disadvantages of freelancing so you’re better informed about the challenges of remote work.
Here’s their expert opinion:
Lack of a steady income
“There are several disadvantages to freelancing, including a lack of a steady income, the need to find new clients constantly, and the lack of benefits that come with being a full-time employee,” says Hammad Afzal, who freelances as a growth marketing manager on Upwork. “Freelancers also have to take care of their taxes and health insurance, which can be a significant financial burden. Additionally, freelancers may have a harder time finding work during slow periods and may not have the same support and resources available to employees at a traditional company.”
Not being your own boss
“Everyone wants to be their own boss and make their own schedule. However, the trouble with freelancing is that it just doesn’t work out that way. You end up having half a dozen different bosses (i.e., all of your clients). And it can be hard to switch off when these ‘bosses’ (in multiple time zones) keep pinging you with last-minute problems,” says Anna Foley Simmons, who is a freelance writer on People Per Hour. “Don’t get me wrong: working from home is glorious. Freelancing gives a taste of freedom at work, but in my experience, it merely whets the appetite for ‘the true freedom’ of becoming a full-blown, creative entrepreneur.”
“Unlike in a corporate setting or office work where you can mingle and socialize with your coworkers, freelancing can be lonely work due to the isolation resulting from working remotely. You work alone, you celebrate your wins alone, and you also solve problems alone. Even for an introverted person like me, it can be lonely, and you get to experience missing some colleagues with whom you can personally build relationships and friendships,” reveals freelance writer Arvie Narido. “Luckily, there are many groups and networks online where you can build relationships with and share the same struggles. Personally, I love attending seminars and workshops about freelancing and entrepreneurship. These kinds of events are the best avenue where I can build networks and find other freelancers where we get to share our freelancing journey.”
“Freelancing can be a great way to earn a living, but it also has its disadvantages. One major disadvantage is the lack of a steady income. Since freelancers are not employees of a company, they do not receive regular salaries or paychecks. This means that their income can be unpredictable and unreliable, which can make it difficult to budget and plan for the future,” SEO consultant Kazu Nakazawa states. “Freelancers also often have to work long hours and juggle multiple clients, which can be stressful and lead to burnout. Additionally, freelancers may not have access to the same benefits as traditional employees, such as health insurance and retirement savings plans. This can make it difficult for freelancers to care for their health and financial well-being. Overall, while freelancing can be a rewarding career, it is essential to carefully consider the potential drawbacks before making the decision to become a freelancer.”
Finding and maintaining your own clients
“Freelancing can be a great way to make a living, but it does come with some drawbacks. As a freelancer, you’re responsible for finding and maintaining your own clients, which can be a constant hustle,” says Jo Boyle, who works as a digital marketing consultant on Work for Impact. “It can be hard to connect with the right clients, which is why I prefer to use industry-specific freelancing platforms. There is no point in competing on price with platforms in a constant race to the bottom. It’s best to market yourself as an expert in your field to find clients that respect your knowledge and are willing to pay a fair price.”
Difficulty in landing long-term contracts
“The disadvantage of freelancing that I most experience is building long-term relationships because most clients request assistance on short-term projects. Having to start over with new clients can feel like a setback, even though it only adds to my portfolio and experience,” says Rio Villa, a content creator and copywriter. “The freedom of freelancing comes with uncertain outcomes, forcing me to redirect myself often and practice immense flexibility and humility.”
Not having a steady income
“As an experienced freelancer, I have seen many of the disadvantages of freelancing. Not having a steady income is a major downside, as freelancers often have to wait for clients to pay,” according to Nazmul Hasan, a Top Rated Plus SEO expert on Upwork. “Also, freelancers may not have the same level of job security as someone who is employed by a company. Additionally, freelancing can be isolating, as freelancers don’t have the same kind of support network as someone who works in an office. Lastly, freelancers must be disciplined in order to stay on task and meet deadlines, which can be difficult for those who don’t have a good work ethic.”
“For me, one of the disadvantages of freelancing is isolation. Despite being a huge introvert, working alone without colleagues to interact with, can get lonely sometimes. Yes, there are freelancing communities and many co-working spaces nowadays, but people come and go and you’re still bound to spend a lot of time alone. For the most part, you’re pretty much on your own in terms of work,” freelance writer Erica Fransisca reveals. “Another disadvantage of freelancing, which is also the biggest reason why many people are scared of doing it full-time, is because the income is unstable and inconsistent. Unlike a traditional job, you can’t depend on any regular project or client, as most things you do are on a one-off basis. Even if you manage to secure a long-term contract, most of them will last only a year or two at most, and you need to constantly be on the lookout for new clients and projects.”
Having to make decisions alone
“I think the only disadvantage of freelancing that I can see at least is having to make all the decisions myself,” explains Sílvia Pinho, a social media marketer. “Don’t get me wrong. That’s a great problem to have as I do get to ‘call the shots’ and do things my way, but sometimes you worry you’re making the wrong decision and no one is there to help you (unless you’ve cultivated a good support system, which I’ve been working on).”
Handling taxes, insurance, and other administrative tasks
“One disadvantage for freelancers is having to handle their own taxes, insurance, and other administrative tasks. Unlike traditional employees, who have the support of their employers when it comes to these tasks, freelancers are often on their own when it comes to understanding and complying with tax laws, obtaining insurance coverage, and managing their own finances,” freelance writer Brenda Peralta recalls. “This can be especially challenging for those who are new to freelancing, or for those who are not familiar with the legal and financial aspects of running a business. Additionally, the process of filing taxes and dealing with insurance can be confusing and overwhelming, which can lead to frustration and stress. This can take time and energy away from actually doing the work, and can make it difficult for freelancers to focus on what they do best.”
No matter what, the benefits of freelancing far outweigh its disadvantages, as is evidenced by the growing number of people working from home today.
What do you think are the disadvantages of freelancing? Tell me in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.
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