Everybody wants to be a freelancer these days. It has become the dream for most people and numerous individuals quit their daily jobs in order to chase this dream. Most people will tell you that being a freelancer is great – and it is. There are a lot of positives to this life. But you won’t hear a lot about why you shouldn’t become one.
Just as for any other thing that goes on in your life, freelancing involves the presence of a number of traits that, from my point of view and personal experience, are a MUST if you’re going down this path.
1. You procrastinate often
This applies to freelancing as it does to all other areas of your life. If you procrastinate often, you won’t get your projects done on time. This translates into unhappy customers, negative reviews and even part refunds.
In my opinion, the ability to not procrastinate is the first trait a freelancer must have. Once you’re free from having a boss, it’s easier to just leave tasks undone and watch your favorite TV Show, thinking that you’ll have time to do your work later.
2. You can’t administrate your income properly
Most freelancers already know that getting contracts and jobs is a lot like a rollercoaster. Some months you’ll be up and may even have more contracts than you can carry, while in others you may just get a contract or two. So you need to save for the future in the months when things went great.
If you don’t have the ability to manage your income properly, it’s going to be really hard for you to pay the bills and you’ll start dropping your rate just to get a job or two and make some money. Your goal is to get paid more, not less, right?
Short story: Andreea and I save money monthly for potential periods with a low workflow. And we did it from the start. Luckily, we didn’t need that money as we managed to live with what we made. After about 14 months, we figured that we saved more than we’d generally need so we used a part of what we saved until then to take a 5-day trip and visited Budapest, Vienna and Prague.
So, even if you may never need that cash, you could ultimately use it to buy something great or take a vacation somewhere.
3. You can’t get up early in the morning
When managing yourself, it’s easy to let yourself fooled by the idea that you can wake any time you want. And you can do this if you’ve had a late night out. But setting the alarm clock at 12 P.M. each day will be a real productivity killer for you.
Getting up early in the morning is a great productivity hack and also really important when you’re a freelancer. You will be more active and motivated to finish tasks fast in order to have the rest of the day off.
When getting up late, you’ll feel quite the opposite and the potential to procrastinate or delay tasks will be bigger.
4. You can’t motivate yourself enough
Motivation in freelancing applies to both getting work done and finding new contracts. As you may not get a job in the first weeks it’s easy for some people to slide into negative thinking and just give up.
Talking strictly about work, some tasks may be more boring than the others. And the boring ones are the hardest to complete. But people expect that you deliver quality results, on time. Without the ability to motivate yourself properly, you won’t succeed.
So the truth is that you need to keep yourself motivated continuously in order to get things done, no matter if you’ve been doing this for a few weeks or years.
5. It’s hard for you to work from home, without being surrounded by colleagues
Freelancing means working alone 9 out of 10 times. I’m lucky as I have Andreea close to me, but most don’t. To be honest, even under these circumstances, I still miss having colleagues to share ideas with or just socialize.
This is probably one of the toughest aspects in the life of an independent worker and some just can’t do without being surrounded by other people working. You could opt for a co-working space, but this may not be possible for you in the beginning, when you have to think about your budget.
In Romania, renting a desk in a co-working space costs like half a month’s rent. Adding Andreea to this equation means that if we were both to go work from there, we’d kind of have to pay our rent twice. You’ll also have to take the money for transport into account. Plus, considering that no one is forcing you to go to the office, some days you’ll probably be too lazy to move your ass there. So working in a co-working space is not the best deal in the world.
In conclusion, if you can’t do without colleagues, you will probably quit your freelancing career after a few months.
6. You don’t have the will get up after failing
This is generally related to what I talked about in the 4th point. Freelancing takes will and a strong desire to succeed. You will go through a lot of unanswered e-mails, applications and the first weeks will be a struggle.
It’s will be pretty demoralizing at first, but you need the will to continue trying until you start getting jobs.
7. You’re too afraid of competition
Nowadays, being a freelancer also means facing a fierce competition. And it’s only going to get bigger as people continue quitting their jobs to become independent contracts. Freelancing platforms are crawling with people while hundreds apply to jobs on Craiglist. Here a few screenshots:
The latter is an example of a response received for an application I sent for a job advert on Craiglist.
If you don’t believe in yourself or feel like you don’t have the necessary skill to fight the competition, it’s going to be very hard for you to succeed, as you will always feel that there are others more qualified than you to do that job. Thus, you will underestimate yourself.
8. You’re not bound to improve yourself on your own
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
Improving yourself continuously is always important. No matter what you do. When you’re your own boss, it’s easy to imagine that this is not that important anymore. But it counts even more than before. You need to become much better at what you do, you need to learn new things and keep up with all the latest trends in your area of work. This is how you become better than your competition.
9. You don’t have a plan
After quitting your job, the next few months are vital. You need to know where you are heading, and how you will get there. Before I quit my job one year and a half ago, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was an SEO back then, a pretty good one, so I created an entire roadmap around this.
Your plan should include the following:
- expenses for the next three months (you need to be as limited as possible)
- where will you get jobs from (list even the craziest of ideas and pursue them)
- one-year goals, five-year goals etc.
- back-up plan (what will you do if freelancing doesn’t work for you)
- how will you market yourself
10. You don’t have a starting budget
Having a starting budget is one of the first things you should think about before taking this step. I’ve saved about three months of the minimum wage in Romania before quitting and it was enough for me. But I managed to get jobs from the first month. Only you know how much feels right for you, so I can’t really tell you what sum you need to save. But make sure that you have enough to get past the first few weeks.
11. You can’t manage yourself and need a boss to always give you instructions
Let’s face it – not all people can manage themselves. Some were born to lead, while others were born to be led. I don’t know which type are you but if you always need someone to give you instructions and generally feel like taking chances or decisions, maybe freelancing isn’t the right option for you.
Managing yourself can sometimes mean hard-work and, from time to time, you should even go harder on yourself than your boss did. It takes a lot of organizing and planning, and a lot of discipline. Do you feel like you can boss yourself around properly?
12. You can’t manage your time properly
Time means money. The ability to manage your time properly means that you will be able to finish work faster, which results in potentially finishing more projects monthly. Simply put, this means that you’ll produce more money.
On the other hand, sucking at time management means missing deadlines, which in return leads to negative reviews and unhappy customers.
13. You’re not prepared to work more hours than you do for your current job
We’ve all heard of The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. It’s a great book. It is, in fact, the book that gave me the final push that I needed to say goodbye to my job. And the 4-hour work week is definitely achievable. But in my opinion, you have to sweat and build a great foundation before you get to actually live this dream life.
Sincerely speaking, in the beginning, there will be days when you will have a lot of time and nothing to do with it, and there will be days when you will have to catch up and work 12-14 hours. I had days when I started work at 6 A.M. and finished it the next day at 12.00-1.00 A.M., with just a two-hour break.
And when projects will start piling up as people get to know and return for more work, you’ll have a constant workflow of 10-12 hours daily. This is great, somehow, as you’ll make a lot of money. But it also means that you will be working your ass out in order to finish those projects on time.
14. You’re not responsible
For me, being responsible means to finish work on time and produce results that the customer is happy with. It also means sticking to my to-do list and finishing any tasks I have listed there.
If you know that you’re not a responsible person and you won’t do anything in your power to succeed in the above mentioned, I don’t think it will be easy for you to thrive as a freelancer.
15. You’re not patient
Patience concludes my list and today’s article. It’s a trait you will need every time you’re set to do something because results will rarely appear overnight. For freelancers, patience means that you apply to dozens of jobs daily and wait calmly until you get that first job. Patience also means that you can wait for a few months until increasing your rate. Patience also means that you have the power to set a goal 5 years from now and work to its completion continuously, no matter if you are sure or not of its success.