7 Signs That It’s Time to Simplify Your Freelancing Business

We freelancers deal with a lot. Advice, expectations, client demands, family needs, financial pressure–all of these can sometimes combine to make freelancing a very complicated matter.

In fact, sometimes we freelancers make life too busy. If your freelancing life has become too much for you, it may be time to simplify your life and your freelancing business as well.

Do you think this is you? Check the signs below to find out.

7 Signs That Your Business Is Too Complex

Could you be missing the warning signs that your freelancing business is too complex? Here’s a list to check:

  1. You’re feeling stressed most of the time. Some stress is inevitable, of course. But if you’re feeling excessive stress all or most of the time, it could be a warning sign that your business has become too complex. As humans, our minds can only deal with so much before we feel pressured.
  2. You’re getting sick a lot. If your mind doesn’t warn you through stress, your body may try to warn you through illness. If you find that you can’t stay healthy despite your best efforts (and this isn’t normal for you), it could be another sign that you are doing too much.
  3. You’re too busy for your top priorities. Do you have time enough to devote to those things that are really important to you? If you said “no” to that last question, what kind of a life is that? Your top priorities in life ARE important–even when you are struggling to build a freelancing business.
  4. You can’t remember the last time you took a day off. Not being able to take time off is a sure sign that you are doing too much. Worse than that–it will likely lead to stress and eventual burnout (neither of which is good for you or for your freelancing business).
  5. You’re making a lot of mistakes in your work. I’m sure that you’re a careful freelancer, and everyone makes a mistake now and then. But if mistakes seem to happen all the time and you just know that you could do better it’s probably because you’re overloaded.
  6. You’re not even sure what your specialty is.Taking on projects that don’t really fit your business goals can backfire. You can find yourself swimming in work, but lose site of your business direction. Take a look at the work you’re accepting. Does it match your business goals?
  7. You’re not really sure if you like freelancing anymore. The final result of all this, of course, is a feeling of failure and frustration. If you’re so busy that there’s no way you can accomplish what you set out to do, then of course it’s likely that you’re going start disliking freelancing.

How to Simplify Things

First of all, take an inventory of everything that you are trying to accomplish as a freelancer. In some cases, the list may amaze you. Some freelancers set goals that couldn’t possibly be achieved even if they had superhuman powers. It’s time to let yourself off the hook for some of this stuff.

Pick one or two aspects of the freelancing business to focus on (preferably aspects that you enjoy and that are profitable) and let go of the rest–at least for now. Yes, this can be a painful process because you can be emotionally attached to some of your goals. For that reason, don’t make the decision too quickly. Sleep on your decision. Get comfortable with the idea of doing less.

Get help if you need it. Freelancers tend to be loners who do everything themselves. While that’s understandable, it’s often in direct opposition to simplifying your business. If something is outside of your area of expertise (such as taxes, legal matters, or even administrative tasks), don’t waste your valuable time doing it.

Look at simplifying the rest of your life too. Do you pay for expensive services that you don’t really use? That could be adding financial pressure that you don’t really need. If you haven’t used a service in several months, consider canceling it (with insurance being the exception, of course). Do you have too much junk? That could lead to a messy clutter that unnecessarily drains your time. Look for a good charity and give some of that stuff away.

Your Turn

Did I leave anything out? Have you simplified your freelancing business or your life?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Lee J. Haywood


  1. says

    Great I understand your points and hope this points must works for me. Just going you applying your points. Thanks for the superb suggestion.

  2. says

    I would seen to me that if you got rid of the word Freelancer what you have written could have construed to be about everybody’s problems.

  3. says

    A good and timely post! I’m simplifying my freelance life by taking steps to move away from my other part time job in order to concentrate on the freelancing! I firmly believe in outsourcing too – if it costs you more in lost time (at your hourly rate) and lost business that you could have done during that time (at your hourly rate again) than it would cost to pay someone else to do it – then pay someone else to do it!

  4. says

    Maria–I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    Gold, I didn’t make it totally exclusive to freelancing on purpose because lifestyle issues often spill over and impact freelancing work.

    Liz Broomfield–Great advice about outsourcing! Best wishes for simplifying your life.

    Adeniyi-myfreelancehaven.com, Disorganization and clutter can really slow a person down…

    Sonya–Excellent tip. So many freelancers think they’ve specialized, when in fact they accept all types of work all the time.

  5. david M says

    Another thing worth noting for those that do a lot of freelancing work online: if you’re finding yourself using multiple, separate, non-integrated business apps to manage what you’re doing, you should seriously consider consolidating and simplifying.

    Going slowly from one to 4 different apps for everything I manage, I found myself constantly jumping between systems to manage work between clients, while constantly having to switch back and fourth to reference information and do other things. It’s a costly, inefficient, and discouraging process.

    I’ve found using a single app to manage everything to make the biggest difference. Using WORKetc right now, which allows me to manage contacts, the lead process, projects, invoicing, time tracking, expenses, scheduling, and a few other things in one place. It’s an all in one management tool, and it integrates all of these very nicely into an intuitive online app. It’s made a heck of a difference, I manage the entire client lifecycle in one place now, and keep all information stored centrally. also, it’s google apps integrated!

    This is a comparison of WORKetc and other online apps which should explain much better what I mean by all-in-one: http://www.worketc.com/compare

  6. says

    Great post and great reminders, Laura! I think I could relate to every one of them. Guru.com and odesk.com has helped in spreading out the load for me. Plus, I recently brought in a part-time Admin/Assistant on a contract basis. Working beautifully!

  7. says

    I think one thing that was left out in the reducing stress and simplifying part is to politely “fire” clients who add massive amounts of stress and unrealistic expectations with no pay off. I had this situation recently. Every time I saw this man’s email or phone call I would cringe. I knew I had to change this. I wasn’t a rash decision, it’s been going on for a while, I just finally got the courage to do it.

  8. says

    Fawn–I definitely believe in getting help if you need it. I would never tell anyone that they always have to do it all by themselves.

    david M, Thanks David. That’s an interesting thought. I can see the value of simplifying the number of apps you use.

    AMBROSE Office Manager Services–Thanks for your kind words.

    Carma Leichty, I’m glad that you were able to get the help that you needed…

    Norma Riehle–Ooh! That is a good addition. Firing a client shouldn’t necessarily be a first resort, but sometimes it is necessary.

  9. says

    Fantastic post as always, Laura! (I’m a long time lurker, first time commenter).

    I absolutely agree with everything you said and think you offered fantastic solutions.

    I think that many of the problems listed can also stem from freelancers charging too little for their work (which encourages taking on more projects/stress).

    Keep up the great work! :)

  10. says

    I think most of us as freelancers think that we can take up clients without taking a break here and there. And end not enjoying our freelancing and it ends up being a nuisance and we end up hating it.

    Thanks for for the great post of bringing this in to light.

    Keep up the great work. :)

  11. says

    I think a lot of it has to do with being too surrounded by too many things on-going at the same time. As a result, the fatigue of getting burned out sets in, loss of moral and etc

    Suppose it’s only temporary since many of us get into business by loving what we do in the first place, a passion that just cannot wither overnight. If you’re feeling any or all of the seven signs above, take a vacation, a long one, beat it out and come back feeling recharged again.


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