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Being a freelancer has a lot of perks; the ability to set your hours and prices is one of the most important benefits. You have creative freedom over your work, and you can work from anywhere.
A freelancer is a sole proprietor responsible for every decision and action and, as such, is a jack of all trades.
From accounting to marketing and time management, you need to be proficient or at least knowledgeable about different aspects of running a business.
While there is a lot to be gained from working for yourself, the road to freelance success has its pitfalls and potholes.
There are various challenges that both beginners and experts freelancers face, which can lead to failure if not properly tackled.
Listed below are five common challenges that you might encounter and the best ways to overcome them.
Determining Your Niche
While you can choose a particular industry to work in, such as programming, writing, or designing, it can be challenging for beginners to restrict their work to a specific niche.
As a fledgling freelancer, you might need to accept any kind of work you come across to build up a customer base.
However, as time goes on and you gain a foothold in your chosen industry, it is important to accept jobs mainly in your niche of interest.
Lack of motivation is a common challenge that most freelancers face. Since you do not have a boss to report to or you might sometimes find your work uninteresting, you might be hardpressed to complete your tasks on time and with good quality.
Sticking to a niche that you are excellent in and interested in will ensure that you enjoy your work and give your best.
A steady flow of customers is the main component of a successful freelance business. However, unlike a regular 9-5 job, regular availability of clients is not guaranteed.
There will be periods of high traffic where you will have orders piled up and times when no orders will be forthcoming.
The unpredictability of the freelancing world must be adequately planned for if you want to succeed.
Always market yourself and your services to your target audience through social media platforms and networking events.
Show off your expertise in your industry by giving talks, answering questions on related sites, putting out articles, and providing innovative solutions to problems.
Send emails to potential clients, highlighting the advantages their business stands to gain from working with you.
Encourage your current and previous clients to give testimonials and refer you to their friends, colleagues, and family.
Owning Your Work
As a freelancer, there is always a risk that your work might be stolen or used by others. Copyrighting your work to prevent theft can be complicated, especially for people who have no experience or know how to go about it.
Before you start working for a client, it is vital to have a written contract detailing the scope of your work, revisions, and milestones where the client would pay.
Ensure to follow the rules to the letter and always communicate with the client. Add watermarks or hidden signatures to your work to prevent clients from using them without paying.
As a freelancer, your online identity is one of the most critical aspects of your business. Hence, you need to take steps to maintain your privacy and prevent identity theft.
Learn about the General Data Protection Regulation, which serves as a guideline for protecting your clients' information and privacy.
As the sole proprietor of your business, you would be responsible for providing everything you need to offer your services.
From hardware and equipment to software and upgrades, you would most likely need to shoulder the costs of running your business alone.
It is crucial to have a source of capital for the first few months of your freelance endeavor to avoid crashing and burning in the first few weeks of operation due to a lack of funds.
Set aside a certain percentage from your profits to serve as operating costs as you begin to get work.
If possible, have a sufficient amount stored away before you quit your 9-5 job. You can also use your savings as startup funds until you can find your feet.
When setting up your website and online portfolio, browse around for the best deals on hosting services; a service that offers free SSL options is ideal.
Hire designers from platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork to create an affordable web design and implement upgrades as your income increases.
Countering Unrealistic Expectations
You might have heard of one person or the other who quit their job to start a freelance business and hit it big within a few months.
While these kinds of stories can be good motivation for you, setting unrealistic expectations based on these unique occurrences can prove disastrous to your success.
Before undertaking your freelance journey:
Put down a list of accomplishments and goals that you wish to achieve.
Have it in mind that it might take months or years before you realize the actualization of your set goals.
Draft out milestones that you need to hit to feel fulfilled.
Regularly review your goals as you go along to remove any risk of discouragement and to see how far you have come in your journey.
In conclusion, proper planning and preparation are required to overcome any obstacles you might face as a freelancer.
Ensure to consistently put out your best work, market yourself aggressively, and save part of your income for the rainy days.