Working as a freelancer or a home-based contractor offers a lot of freedom. You’re your own boss. You set your own hours. You reap all the profits and spend them as you wish. But it’s also full of risk. It can be unstable and sometimes scary. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. A smart freelancer has to be a smart business person. You have to address those risks and find the ways you’re going to navigate them. Here, we’ll look at some of the biggest risks, internally and externally, you might have to compete with:
Not being productive
When you first start working from your own home, it can be easy to just watch the hours spill away one after another. It can take some getting used to, working in an environment that isn’t often used for work. Start by making sure you set some rules for yourself and your family. Know your working hours by finding out your most productive hours of the day. Between those hours, you’re not allowed to be distracted. A physical boundary, like a proper office space, can make these rules easier to enforce.
Undervaluing your own work
There are a lot of people who are looking to do freelance work on the internet and in the real world. Thinking like that, it’s easy to consider yourself insignificant and unable to compete. Get rid of that thought, immediately. Treat each job like a challenge and make sure you’re giving it your all. One of the best ways to do that is to attach the proper value to your work. Pricing can be tricky. Try finding fixed rates that work for you. That’s more reliable than using variable fees which potential employers tend to avoid. Make sure that your pricing agreements deal with the risk of scope creep, as well, of course.
Competing in markets that are too full
When a person starts freelancing, then the first place they might go to is a freelancing site. That is a mistake. Those sites are built way in favour of those doing the employing, not the freelancer. The bidding systems create an economy where you spend more time racing to the bottom in price offers. If you want to make a living as a freelancer, you should consider staying away from those websites.
Not waiting for clients to come to you
You should be aggressive in chasing leads to begin with, but you shouldn’t always do it that way. Set yourself up as a business, not a person looking for work. You’re there to provide a service. Once you have the portfolio and testimonials to prove that you can provide, it’s about having them come to you. Chasing leads is still important. But you need a website and a personal brand to make it easier for potential employers to come and find you, too. Otherwise, you’re doing all the work which just isn’t an efficient way of doing it.
People trying to rip you off
Not all disputes arise due to unethical treatment. But regardless of the intent, you have to protect yourself. Whether it’s your intellectual property being abused or your labour being used without compensation. Good contracts are a place to start from when preparing for disputes. But sometimes you have to be prepared to take it to a more official level. To that end, you should keep specialists in things like dispute resolution in your contact book. You have to be prepared to stand up for your rights. Otherwise, you’ll be at risk of losing a lot of money in the future.
Having no life
Putting your all into your work can come at the expense of your life outside it. So you need to watch out for your work-life balance. Those rules that dictate your working time need to also dictate when working time ends. No adding thirty minutes at the end of the day or checking emails throughout the evening. Do you find that busy work is crawling up and making your schedule more restrictive? Then look at the free software that can help you automate and cut down time on your work processes. There are all kinds of tools just at the end of an internet search.
No-one said freelancing was easy and no-one should expect it to be. That’s one easy way to find yourself making very little money for the amount of work that you do. Value your work and find the markets that are going to match that value. Build a presence as a business and stay savvy to make sure no-one can take advantage of you.