Why Do Some Freelancers Fail?

why-failSome freelancers fail.

It’s a sad cold fact. And in a world where a steadily increasing percentage of the workforce is freelance, you may wonder why.

Of course, there are a lot bad freelancing practices that can cause you to fail. Naturally, you should avoid those. But what about when you seem to be doing everything right and you fail anyway?

Some freelance failure might seem like a mystery, but there’s almost always an underlying cause.

In this post, I share some of the not-so obvious reasons why freelancers fail. In the comments, be sure to add your own ideas about why freelancers fail.

6 Hidden Reasons Freelancers Fail

So, you’re doing everything right, and everything is still going wrong. Freelancing was never supposed to be like this. Why are you failing at freelancing?

Here are six rarely discussed reasons why some freelancers fail:

  1. Your heart isn’t in it. The truth is, you never really wanted to be a freelancer. Everyone else seemed to be doing it, so you decided to try it too. Or maybe you lost your traditional job and are only freelancing until you can find another one. Freelancing success takes a lot of commitment. It’s hard to maintain that level of commitment if you don’t really care about your freelancing business.
  2. Your skills just aren’t there yet. Freelancing competition is fierce. To survive in the competitive freelance marketplace, your skills need to be very good. If you’re a beginner, just starting out in your field, freelancing can be really rough. It’s best to learn as much as you can in a field before striking out on your own. That might mean working for someone else or even going to school.
  3. Your customer service is cruddy. Are you rude, thoughtless, and generally difficult to get along with? If you are, your freelance customer service skills probably reflect that. Customer service is important. Unless you’re an absolute genius at what you do, you need to have good customer service skills if you’re going to succeed as a freelancer.
  4. You quit too easily. Do you get discouraged easily? Do you have a habit of starting things, but never finishing them? If a little criticism is enough to stop in your tracks of if you have a house full of unfinished projects, freelancing might not be for you. It takes time to build a successful freelancing business. Those who quit early generally can’t do it.
  5. You don’t work at it. Freelancing means you can get up late, take a long lunch, and quit early–right? Wrong! Any freelancer who has been at it for a while knows that freelancing takes a lot of hard work. Sure, you can set your own schedule–but if you want to earn a full-time income, you should expect to work full-time. If you started freelancing because you thought it was easy money, you’ll probably be disappointed.
  6. You refuse to sell. Do you hate to sell? Me too. I can totally relate to not liking sales. However, there’s a big difference between not liking sales and refusing to do it. While sales isn’t my favorite part of running a business, I know that if I want to continue earning a living through freelancing I have to do it. If you absolutely won’t sell, you will probably find yourself without many clients.

Can You Dodge the Failure Bullet?

If you’re failing as a freelancer, don’t panic. It might not be too late to turn things around. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help your freelancing business rebound:

  1. Do you really want to freelance? Or are you disappointed in freelancing? Be brutally honest with yourself.
  2. Are you willing to put in the effort? If you do want to freelance, are you willing to work hard at it?
  3. Do others think that you are good at what you do? Often we can’t see our own flaws, so it helps to ask someone else.
  4. Will you market your freelancing business? Marketing and sales are an important part of any business.

If you answered “no” to all or most of the previous questions, freelancing failure may be inevitable.

However, if you answered “yes” to most questions, there’s still hope that you can dodge the freelance failure bullet. Take some steps today to turn your freelance business around.

Your Turn

Have you been freelancing a while? What other reasons for failure can you think of? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments

  1. says

    As a freelance career counselor and resume writer, I am constantly working. Even when I am having a lull in orders I am constantly on my computer or out in the world trying to get our name out there. It is so important to stay motivated. You have to choose what you want and don’t give up. No matter how hard things get, they can always be worse. Being a freelancer is not easy! It’s great to set your own schedule, but you have to make money to survive. I wake up early every morning, go workout, and then settle in for a nice long work day. Focus is key. Never give up, stay focused, and market like crazy and you’ll get there!

  2. says

    It can be a a real tough transition going from a regular full time job with steady paycheck and stability to the wild woest of freelancing. Great perspective in this article.

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