In this guest post, Small Revolution founder Katrina McKinnon shares some of what she’s learned during her 20-plus-years experience as a freelance business owner.
Have you found yourself contemplating the freelance life? Are you wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side?
It’s true, freelancing has many benefits, especially if you’re highly skilled.
But fear of the unknown can make a newbie freelancer give up even before they begin this exciting journey.
If you’re seriously thinking of going freelance, join me as I uncover inside information on the world of freelancing – the good, the bad and the ugly. Read this list of pros and cons before quitting your day job.
7 Pros and Cons of Freelancing Beginners Should Know
There is good and bad in everything, and freelancing is no exception. Let’s focus first on the positive.
First, the Pro’s of Freelancing
1. Pro – You’ll Always Have Work Opportunities
Technological advancement is making it easier for you to find freelance work. A study carried out by Upwork called Freelancing in America yielded the following findings:
- Three out of four freelancers reported that technology has made it easier for them to find freelance work.
- Nine in ten freelancers are optimistic about the growth of freelance in the coming future.
But how exactly does technology create online work opportunities?
- A level playing field: The internet has leveled the playing field so you can go beyond your local economy to find higher-paying work.
- Peer-to-peer hiring: Individual operators can now join the client pool. Hiring is not limited to large employers. A freelancer could outsource some of their work to you if they’re feeling stretched, which puts money in your pocket.
- Online training: eLearning makes it possible for you to acquire specialist skills. Once you add networking and an impressive portfolio into the mix, you’ll be raking in the cash.
- Income diversification: Technology allows you to make more money by productizing your services. For instance, you could create digital products such as whitepapers, photographs or ebooks as a content marketing freelancer. This will generate viable leads, show your expertise and establish you as an authority in your niche.
These money-making opportunities make it possible for anyone to make a decent living.
However, if you want to make money worth writing home about, you must possess in-demand skills.
So start honing your skills. Like, right now.
2. Pro – Your Communication Skills Will Improve Tremendously
When you start working remotely, you probably won’t get to see your clients face to face very often, if at all.
Most of your interaction will be online, which comes with its own set of challenges.
Time zone differences and language barriers can pose problems for your working relationship.
The good news is, there are plenty of communication tools to help freelancers communicate effectively, such as:
Skype: You can use Skype for face-to-face meetings and chat conversations with clients from all over the world.
Grammarly: This spell-checker will make sure that your written communication, from emails to invoices, is error-free.
Trello: Use the boards on Trello (or one of the many other project management SaaS products) to manage tasks in your projects and communicate with your client at every stage
Google Apps: Create shareable documents in the cloud and invite your clients to collaborate.
Evernote: Jot down ideas, notes, and appointments with your client.
Freshbooks: Create and send invoices to your client so you get paid on time.
MailChimp: Send and track customized emails to nurture prospective clients.
Freelancing will challenge you to have difficult conversations with your clients.
Most people would rather bury their heads in their work than discuss issues such as scope creep and late payments.
You’ll probably find it uncomfortable, too. But keep in mind that the person who starts a difficult conversation has the most leverage.
This is due to the anchoring effect, which allows you to sway the negotiations in your favor.
So don’t hesitate to talk about the elephant in the room.
As you do this, be mindful of your client’s business culture so you don’t act inappropriately.
This clip shows how formal or familiar you need to be in your interactions with your clients.
3. Pro – You’ll Acquire a Varied Skill Set
What makes freelance work so exciting is the opportunity to work on different projects.
This exposes you to different challenges every day and hurls you out of your comfort zone.
Consequently, you’ll acquire a wide range of skills, which will make you more competitive in the free-market economy.
Now, the Cons of Freelancing
4. Con – You’ll Face Rejection
You’ll knock on doors and many of them will be slammed shut in your face.
When you’re just starting out, this may dampen your spirits but you can’t let that get you down.
View every rejection as an opportunity to build resilience, which will toughen you up for the freelance pressure that lies ahead.
Whenever possible, get feedback about your work so that you can improve.
Stay positive and celebrate your progress.
You’ll be in a better position to give a good first impression to prospective clients when you have a positive mindset.
Oh, and don’t forget these wise words when you’re tempted to throw in the towel.
I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. – Steve Jobs
Pure perseverance. Now, that’s the stuff.
5. Con – You’ll Meet Difficult Clients
You’ll work with all types of people, from clients who ghost you to those who don’t pay on time.
Sometimes, you can see the red flags way before you start working with them. But the proof is in the pudding.
A few weeks with your new client and you discover how demanding, perfectionist, indecisive and controlling they can be.
What Newbie Freelancers Should Know About Handling Difficult Clients
What should you do if firing the client isn’t an option?
- Set boundaries. Let your client know when you’re available for work and phone calls, what deadlines are comfortable for you and what they should expect from a project.
- Charge more. If your client is demanding, inform them that you’ll charge them extra for any additional work.
- Define clear outcomes. Before starting on a new project, schedule a meeting to get instructions upfront. This keeps an indecisive client from wasting your time.
One of the best ways of communicating with a difficult client is using the echo effect.
The echo effect creates less social distance between you and your client and shows them that you care.
Did you know that a waitress who echoes the client order tends to get higher tips than one who doesn’t?
Here’s how to use the echo effect when you find yourself dealing with a fussy client.
- Demonstrate that you value them by listening to their grievances. Repeat back the words the client has used to show them you’ve listened and taken them seriously.
- Show the client that you understand their concerns whether justified or not. Own your mistakes and treat it as a learning experience.
- Put a solution in place and follow up with your client to see if it’s effective. Your client will trust you to be professional when another issue comes up later.
- Respectfully negotiate a middle ground and show the client that they can trust you to work with them in the future.
6. Con – You’ll Experience Freelancer Burnout
– Saying yes to every project and neglecting yourself in the process will inevitably lead to burnout. The resultant work pressure, if not resolved, will leave you mentally, emotionally and physically fatigued.
You’ll no longer be able to give your loved ones or clients your best.
Your work will lose meaning and you’ll start to distance yourself from your chosen career.
Burnout for a freelancer is tragic because your income is dependent on your productivity.
So ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Schedule your tasks wisely and remove distractions that steal your time.
Take breaks from your computer throughout the day and turn off your devices after work to avoid digital burnout.
Exercise regularly and nurture your passions to effectively manage your stress.
7. Con – You’ll Feel Isolated
Freelancing will make you crave human connection. You’ll no longer be within earshot of office banter or water cooler conversations.
So you’ll have to be more proactive about forming new connections, not only to propel your career forward but to mitigate the effects of social isolation.
Once in a while, set up shop at a co-working space and attend freelancer meetups in your area.
Isolation may cause depression, which can lower your productivity. Outsmart it by being a social butterfly (or as much of one as you can be if you’re already a natural introvert).
Now you’ve finished reading this article and the idea of going freelance is still tugging at your heart.
Great! Now you can use these insights you’ve just gained into the pros and cons of freelancing to navigate the many rewarding paths that a freelance career can offer. So go for it!
Katrina McKinnon, founder of Small Revolution, with over 20 years of experience in building and operating high performing businesses. On Small Revolution, she teaches eCommerce and online job skills. She aims to help graduates get an online job and flexible work opportunities.
Media Sources and Credits: www.images-prod.healthline.com, www.media.makeameme.org, www.pactiss.org,
www.freelancinggig.com, Christian Dorn