Understanding the drawbacks of freelance work

Although many people are successful freelancers, many of them have had to discover the drawbacks of freelance work on their own. Many envision freelancing as an opportunity to be your own boss and to make your own hours. The reality however is often quite different. Here are some common drawbacks to freelance work.

  • Your time is not always your own - While most freelancers think they are setting their own hours, in reality, your clients are almost always calling the shots. If you only have one client it may be easy to decide when you are going to complete a single task, but the reality is that chances are you will have multiple clients and someone will inevitably need something done immediately.
  • Marketing yourself is a full time job - In most cases, you are going to be responsible for finding your next assignment. Clients are not going to come looking for you.  While you may receive some referrals from happy clients, you are going to be responsible for finding that next assignment. This means being prepared to "pitch" your services nearly every day, even when you have enough work.
  • Building a portfolio - While a standard brick and mortar job may only require that you put together a well crafted cover letter and resume, those who depend on freelance work will need a portfolio. Regardless of your specialization, you will have to start your portfolio in order to get your first assignment in most cases.  This often means working on projects specifically to build a portfolio.
  • It is a business - When you make a decision to begin freelance work as a part time or full time career choice, you are no longer an employee. You now run a business. This means that you now have all of the pitfalls of business, including not being paid for your work, losing money, paying taxes and a host of other downfalls that go along with business ownership.
  • Competition - One of the things that many new freelance professionals overlook is that they now have far more competition than they would posting for a job opening in their local newspaper or local job board.  The marketplace for freelancing professionals is global and you are competing with people not only in your own town, but in other states and even worldwide.

Freelancing can be a rewarding career choice and is suitable for many types of people with diverse talents.  Those people who have a good understanding of the drawbacks to freelance work before they get started will likely do well. It takes time, energy and a commitment to quality and excellence to succeed as a freelance professional.