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Eight Ways in Which Freelancing Can be the Toughest Move You Ever Made

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RSS 25 November 2019

So, last week we covered all the good stuff, the warm and fuzzies about why freelancing was the best thing since sliced bread and we can't believe everyone isn't doing it. But, just like everything in life, there isn't just a good side of things. Sometimes, freelancing sucks, plain and simple.

So, this week, in the name of balance, we thought we'd share the less fun side to working as a freelancer.


  1. You don't always know where your next job is coming from. You do the maths. Working 7 hours a day at your chosen career as a freelancer can earn you a salary that's not to be sniffed at. But nobody just walks into that position. Building your reputation as a freelancer takes time. There will likely be days and weeks where no work comes in. There will be clients who don't pay, or are late to pay or who generally dick you around and are a right royal pain in the backside. On top of all that, you actually have to find the work. That means hours spent pitching for new business, writing letters and sending emails and visiting job boards and filling out profiles - none of which you actually get paid for. Once you are more established, of course you can ease off this side of things and assuming you're good, work will start to find you. But getting there takes time.
  2. You take a holiday and it costs you money. Sure, you can supposedly work when you want, and the hours that suit you, and that's great, but you can wave goodbye to holiday pay and employee pension. You can't or don't earn, you don't get paid. Simple as that. Not to mention that's going to be a few weeks you've missed out on searching for work for when you get back to your desk.
  3. You have to deal with all the admin that comes with working for yourself. As if creating all those work profiles and trawling job boards and pitching for work wasn't enough, you also have to be prepared to deal with all the accounting and admin that comes with being self-employed. That takes yet more time and effort. Hiring an accountant can be the best decision you ever make. They can advise on tax breaks and benefits and save you the hassle of trying to do it all yourself.
  4. It can be lonely. Of course, who isn't charmed by the idea of rolling out of bed and getting to work from the comfort of their own home in their PJ's? But, once that novelty wears off, it can become extremely hard to stay disciplined and actually get anything done. And being by yourself all day can send you a little stir-crazy, especially if you're an extrovert and love the buzz of being around people. Working form, a coffee shop is all well and good, but there's only so much coffee you can drink in a day. If this is you, consider shared office space as soon as you can afford it. Many places offer hourly rental, so you don't need to be tied down.
  5. It can stunt your personal growth. Being alone in your head and working in your own little bubble can, over time, stunt your personal development. In an office environment, surrounded by your peers, just a water cooler chat can give you ideas of different approaches and ways of doing things. Your cat, however, isn't likely to give you advice you'll be able to employ in any meaningful way.
  6. You're either not busy enough, or you're too busy. Sadly, it comes with the territory. One week you're watching tumbleweed roll across your desk, the next you're turning projects down because there's not enough time to keep everyone happy. It's just the way it goes.
  7. You'll struggle to get a mortgage. Sad, but true. And if you are lucky enough to get one, you'll be charged more interest than someone in a regular job. Well, that's just great. Without at least 2 years of solid proof of income you've got no chance. And of course, where your accountant may help ensure you're only declaring the bare minimum (within legal limits, of course), your accounts may not accurately reflect your financial situation.
  8. People don't always take you seriously. Quite often, tell people that you work from home, and they take it to mean you're just one step away from being long-term unemployed. They also take it to mean that you're available 24/7. They need a bit of help taking something to the tip at 10am on a Tuesday? Of course you can help, they think, they can just work another time. They have a Thursday off and fancy a coffee and a chat? Well, they know you'll be around, so what's the harm?

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