5 Things to Be Wary of As a Freelancer
As a freelancer, there are many tasks to juggle on a daily basis. You are essentially a one-person band doing things that normally take multiple people to accomplish! It’s understandable a task might get dropped or forgotten here and there. However, here are some warning signs to watch out for to help prevent you from feeling extremely burnt out as a freelancer.
As a freelancer, you may face companies or individuals who struggle to communicate or explain exactly what they need. You may also have to advocate for yourself and schedule frequent meetings with your point of contact in order to stay top-of-mind. Business relationships, like personal ones, need to be given proper attention. If you have a bad experience with a contract, use that as a learning opportunity. Take notes on what you could’ve done differently or ask someone in your network how they would’ve gone about facing this situation. Some businesses will try to take advantage of you and either use your work without your permission or try to stiff you on payment (more on that later). Take the time prior to starting a project, to review the contract between you and your client. Make sure they understand your expectations, follow-ups, timelines, and how they will use the finished product. That way, you start off on the right foot.
5 Things to Be Wary of As a Freelancer: Proper Payment for Work
Once your contract is made and the final product has been delivered, some organizations may try to avoid paying for your work. It’s not always a problem, but still something freelancers and other self-employed individuals should be aware of. It’s a struggle that has been highlighted in recent news, like drivers for DoorDash not being tipped for their services. One way to prevent this problem is to require payment installments throughout your work period. For instance, you can write work and payment milestones into your contract for the client to agree with. If you don’t receive payment, you can stipulate that the project is on pause until payment is made. Another option available is using the legal system. Yes, it can cost some money to get a lawyer involved, but you and the integrity of your business are worth it. It doesn’t hurt to have a lawyer or two in your network of contacts, to contact if a problem arises. Be sure to choose someone with experience in compensation for work, as there are a number of lawyers out there, but many specialize in different fields of law. This individual will need to help protect you and your work properly among other things for your freelance work.
Lengthy Droughts Between Jobs
You may plan for certain parts of your calendar year to be slow, especially if you take vacation time. However, there may come a time when your workload unexpectedly lightens. No need to panic, there are ways to solve this problem. First, reach out to your old clients. Maybe there’s someone who hasn’t requested work in a while or perhaps you want to reacquaint yourself with a business. Send an email expressing your interest or remind them of the previous jobs you’ve done for them. They may not say yes right away, but they’ll know you are another resource for them.
Next, take this time to build your skills and network. Slow time doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Use it as a chance to learn something new through online courses or seminars. That can definitely help when you meet with prospective employers, as you’ll have a long list of skills for them to consider. Also, carve out time to meet new people or send emails to companies that might be interested in your work. Attending conferences or seminars will allow you to double-dip and pull off both of these tasks.
5 Things to Be Wary of As a Freelancer: Miscommunication With Contacts
As mentioned earlier, sometimes you won’t have the best communication with your point of contact for a job. There may be instances when they don’t include you in meetings or don’t respond to your emails. That can hinder the work you’re trying to accomplish. At the outset of your job, gather as much contact information as possible. That way, you have multiple routes of communication and can reach out to a backup point of contact if needed. Be clear about how you will communicate and who you will reach out to if you don’t get a response. If you’re getting radio silence after various attempts to get the client’s attention, then it’s time to consider an in-person visit. Similar to the compensation conversation, outline the communication process prior to the project start date with your client. This way everyone will be on the same page.
Unreliable Work Sources
It can be a huge hindrance to you when a potential new client doesn’t work out for you. Whatever the case, as a freelancer lining up your next job is a constant task. Be on the lookout for new job opportunities no matter how busy you are. Even if you can’t do the work right away, talk it over with your contact to see if you can steadily chip away at the project or you can postpone it to a later date. If you’re struggling with finding steady work, then it’s time to start building a network or places to source work. There are plenty of industry-specific organizations out there you can email to see if they know of anyone who needs your skillset. Also, don’t be afraid to email businesses at random, you never know when they might call you up with a job.
Working for yourself is both exciting and challenging. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be more prepared and know what to avoid when it comes to any hiccups that arise. Stay encouraged!
Sara Carter is a co-founder of Enlightened Digital. She enjoys spending her days writing about technology and business, writing code or chasing her kids and dog.