The Perils of Freelance

You won’t catch me admitting to too many downsides of being a freelancer. However, even the happiest of the self-employed will probably agree that there are some hurdles; fleeting moments that have us gnawing our nails down to bloody stumps. If you can anticipate and deal with these effectively, you’ll probably be a happy freelancer. If not, you’re likely going to find the entire experience far more stressful than it’s worth. Here are some of the challenges that I experience:

Cabin Fever
As I sit typing this article, I am in a local coffee shop, Cobblestone, sipping on a cappuccino and trying to decide between the smoked salmon flat bread and the Portuguese omelette with Chorizo. No matter how inspiring and inviting your office, or how much you love wearing slippers all day, you are bound to get sick of being in the same place all day every day. I even slipped on a pair of heels for my breakfast venture – just for the sheer thrill of a change! Of course, this problem is fairly easy to resolve. Get a laptop or an iPad and make a concerted effort to vary your work environment. Also, make sure that your office is comfortable, but always organised, so that you’re not confusing the frustration of chaos with cabin fever.

The Treadmill Syndrome
When I started to plan for my freelancing days, I was sure that I would be spending my mornings walking on the beach, lunching with friends, enjoying sundowners, and whipping up some fascinating reads in-between. Nope. I stumble through to the office with my first cup of coffee, barely having stretched before flopping into my chair to reply to emails sent by clients (who apparently have no need to sleep). On a Sunday after lunch, I slip into my office and start outing some ideas down. In the evening, when my husband starts lying back in the recliner, I’m sitting with the laptop open, typing away about sharks, eco-friendly kids’ projects or the responsibilities of the maid of honour. It’s easy to fall into the trap of never stopping. Eventually, any time spent sitting in the garden becomes guilt-ridden. This has to stop and I’ll start applying my own advice. Set strict work hours and stick to them as closely as possible.

Freaking Over Finances
While the appeal of making your own money, determining your own salary is undeniable, there is a definite downside to your income being solely dependent on the amount of work you do in any given month. Your permanent employer may have a bad month without you batting an eyelash. However, when you are freelancing or self-employed, this shortfall has an entirely different effect. What I’ve found effective is to give myself a salary – an amount that I absolutely need every month. I save the surplus for the months in which clients are closed or work is slow. Another great way of ensuring a steady income is to work on a retainer basis with one or two regular clients.

Having mentioned these factors, it’s so important for me to stress how very happy I am since I started freelancing. For every negative aspect, there are 3500 positive points. If you are thinking about starting on your own and need some tips or encouragement, feel free to send me a mail – amelia{at}voxate{dot}co{dot}za.

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