What to Expect When You’re Freelancing

More and more of us are becoming freelancers. But, for many of us, the reality of freelancing is different from what we expected.

You’re probably already familiar with the freelancing feast or famine cycle problem and with the struggles freelancers in finding gigs. We’ve already discussed both of those problems on Freelance Folder, so I’m not going to go over them again in this post.

What you may not be aware of, especially if you’re fairly new to freelancing, is the other challenges that freelancers face–the ones that most freelancers don’t talk about much.

In this post, I’ll list some of less discussed challenges of freelancing so that you’ll know what to expect when you start freelancing.

What Others Think

Despite the fact that the number of freelancers is growing, there are still a lot of people who don’t really understand it.

They think that freelancers are lazy or that no one can earn a living as a freelancer. We all know that they are wrong, of course. But that doesn’t change their minds.

In fact, it’s likely that one of your own friends or family members is among those who don’t get it. If you freelance, don’t be surprised when someone close to you asks “when are you going to get a real job?”

Unfortunately, some people will never understand. It’s just a fact of freelancing, and it’s not worth getting upset about. Remember, they are the ones who are wrong, not you.

Making a Major Purchase

Sooner or later, you’ll need to make a major purchase as a freelancer. It may be a house, car, or something else that requires you to fill out a credit application.

Unfortunately, freelancers sometimes have trouble getting approved for credit. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for getting credit:

  • Protect your credit. Always pay your bills on time. The better your credit history, the easier it will be for you to qualify for loans.
  • Show your income for several years as a freelancer as well as your current freelancing income. Tax returns and contracts can help.
  • Keep debt to a minimum. The goal is to show the lender than you will be able to afford to make payments and this is easier to do if you don’t owe much.
  • Remember, there are no guarantees. Freelancers can expect to face more scrutiny during the credit application process.

It may require a lot of patience, but if you’ve worked steadily as a freelancer for several years and have a good credit history you will probably eventually find the right loan for you.

What to Say on Your Resume

Even though you’re a freelancer, you still need a resume (or C.V., depending on what part of the world you are from).

Updating your resume can be tricky if you’re not used to freelancing. You definitely don’t want to show a gap for the period of time when you freelanced. You may also wish to somehow point to the work you’ve done for prominent clients (if your contract allows this).

It’s perfectly acceptable to list yourself as a freelancer on your resume. If you have a freelance business name, you can also use that and list yourself as the owner.

If you do decide to list your clients on your resume, be sure to indicate that you were a freelancer and not an employee for that organization. You can do this by listing the company name and then putting the words “freelance project” or “independent contractor” in parenthesis after the listing.

Getting It Done

As a freelancer, it’s up to you to get it done. There’s no one there checking up on your progress.

To be frank, most clients don’t care if you write that article, design that logo, or translate that document during the day or in the middle of the night. As long as you respond to communications and meet your deadlines, you’re good to go.

This flexibility can be a blessing, but it can also be a hardship for some freelancers who aren’t skilled at effectively managing their time.

With no one checking on you, it’s easy to get in the habit of falling behind or putting work off. Don’t fall into this trap.

The only one who can make sure that you are getting the freelance work done is you.

Your Turn

If you’re already a freelancer, how does freelancing compare with what you expected? Have you overcome some of these challenges?

If you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer, what questions did we leave unanswered?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image by Horia Varlan