The Downside of Freelancing

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I’ve always known about the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing. I love that you can work flexibly and for me the biggest bonus is that I can work around my children. I can work when they’re at school / pre-school and I can work in the evenings when they’re in bed. I enjoy being my own boss and not having to answer to anyone else. I can decide which projects to take on and when I want to work.

Prior to this week the biggest downside I’d experienced with freelancing was in finding regular work. A bit like blogging, it takes determination, self-motivation and a lot of self-promotion.

But this past week, I’ve experienced a few new downsides of freelancing:

 

  • No Payment

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For the first time since freelancing, I’ve had a problem in being paid by a client. I’ve sent a couple of emails chasing payment but with no response. This week I finally got to speak to the client on the phone and was dismayed when they said they’d had to make amends to my work. I mentioned that they’d previously sent an email saying they were pleased with the work and also pointed out that I’d had an original brief which had consisted of two lines. They quickly back-tracked and said they’d chase the money up.

When you’re working for an organisation and something like this happens, you know that someone will back you up. If a client doesn’t pay when you’re working for a company, you know that a manager or finance manager will help you. It can feel quite daunting when this happens and you’re on your own, because you realise that everything is down to you. I didn’t know what to do next. I turned to Twitter and asked the advice of some people I’ve met on there who have previously given me some good advice.

Luckily, as of this week, I haven’t had to spend any more time on it. The client finally paid up, but it has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

 

  • Free Work

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This past month I’ve spent a fair amount of time writing up quotes and proposals for potential clients. And annoyingly not one of those jobs has come off.

I ended up submitting a 6 page proposal for one client and heard nothing back. It might be that the client is still considering my pages of work, perhaps they are still grappling with budget cuts, or they could have stolen all of my ideas and implemented themselves. This is a valuable lesson learnt for the future; that I must not give too much away upfront! Whilst I want the work, I need to tempt clients in rather than giving it all to them on a plate.

Similarly another client asked me for a quote and a proposal. They then decided to think about it for months before asking me write a free page of copy for their website so that they could work out which freelancer’s style they liked the best. I dithered about whether to do this, but went for it, thinking it would be a big job, only to find out 2 months later that although they “really liked my proposal and style”, they preferred to use a freelancer that was located closer to their business in Dorset.

Again, if I was working for a business, I’d be paid for putting in all those hours for proposals and quotations regardless of whether the work does come off or not, but with freelancing, doing work for free is simply part of what it’s all about.

 

  • Uncertainty

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Whilst I was sending off all these proposals and quotes to new clients, I began to panic about childcare. I have enough to cover the basic work that I already have, but if all these new jobs were to come off,  I knew I’d struggle. So I started speaking to friends and family about whether they could help out with my 2 year old and also asked at my daughter’s pre-school if she could do more sessions.

So when none of that new work came off, it all felt a bit ridiculous, not to mention embarrassing and a bit well…. Rubbish! I know that this is the part of freelancing, it’s just it can be very frustrating to run around like a loony trying to organise yourself only to find out that it’s all for nothing! The uncertainty of whether work will happen or not is a definite downside to freelancing.

 

I think I’ve been unlucky to have experienced all of these points in such a short space of time. I know that in order to experience the fabulous benefits that freelancing brings of flexibility and working from home, there has to be some downsides. I’d just prefer it not to be all in the space of one month please!

Onwards and upwards, here’s to more productive times ahead.

 

 

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