“OMG, I’m so overwhelmed! Why does everything happen at once? How do I manage my client work, my ‘normal’ job, plus keep my family happy? Arrgh, I am done!”
Sound familiar? As a new freelancer, there are a lot of things that you’ll need to juggle at once, and it can be more than a little overwhelming and frustrating.
When I first started, I was working a full-time job, had just started a new relationship and was busy trying to get new clients. I remember sitting in front of my computer, just starting at the screen blankly, thinking how the heck was I going to fit all this stuff in and not the drop the ball?
There are many common issues that you’ll face as a new freelancer, and even as a seasoned freelancer, these issues can rear their ugly heads from time to time.
So, before you blow a gasket, follow my tips below so you can avoid pulling your hair out or screaming at your significant other in frustrating…
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4 New Freelancer Issues and How to Avoid (aka Fix) Them
#1: Time Zones
As someone who constantly battles with time zones, this one can quickly unravel even the best laid plans. If you have clients on the other side of the world, you need to figure out a few things:
- What your hours of work will be for them
- How you will balance this with other commitments
As an example, when I started my freelancing business, I was living in Australia. Most of my clients were based in America. This actually worked out perfectly, because my morning was their afternoon, making it a perfect time zone match up.
Where I came unstuck was when I started working with clients in the UK… time differences were only 11 or 12 hours, meaning that I would need to work in the afternoon/evening their time to meet their needs—yuck!
Here’s what you need to do to figure out time zones:
- Decide on which time zones you want to work with and ONLY work with them
- Negotiate with your clients as to when you chat with them
- Use a service like www.worldtimeserver.com to make sure you keep track of time differences
Once you’ve got this sorted for yourself, then it makes it relatively easy to work with clients on the other side of the world, or whatever time zones you choose to work with.
For me, I now only work exclusively with local or American based clients. It’s much easier and keeps the stress levels down!
SIDE NOTE: You'll also need to factor in different currencies if you're working with clients outside of your country. When doing this, it's best to choose one currency and charge everyone in that currency. Or, if you are dealing with local clients and want to charge them in your local currency, using a service like www.freshbooks.com allows you to stipulate currencies per client, then you don't have to monitor currencies as much.
#2: Managing Finances
When you first start freelancing, it can seem like you’ve got all this extra cash in your pocket (particularly if you’re still working your full-time job)… which might give you a false sense of security, leading to a huge spending spree! <– or is that just me?!
If you’re just starting out freelancing, you should save at least 50% of your freelancing income. If you’re aiming to quit your job and freelance full-time, then you should be saving 100% of your freelancing income right now.
[Tweet “If you’re just starting out freelancing, you should save at least 50% of your freelancing income.”]
You want to have a good cash reserve in place before you quit your job, because there will be times when you have a drier period as a full-time freelancer.
The best way to do this is to ensure that you’ve got a system in place to manage your cashflow. I use Freshbooks to manage income and outgoings and you should definitely do this from day dot so that you know exactly whether your business is profitable or not. Then, you can make an informed decision about when to quit your ‘normal’ job.
#3: Superhero Syndrome
When you first start freelancing, it can be very intoxicating being your own boss. You get to make all the decisions about your business, without ever having to check with anyone else. I have to admit, this is definitely one of the things I love most about being in business for myself!
[Tweet “…it can be very intoxicating being your own boss.”]
But, it can also lead to a few major issues developing, such as having to be a Jack/Jill of all trades. You know, having to not only deliver on client work, but manage all the administrative requirements that come with running your own business.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can do everything (well) for any length of time. This was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I started, not outsourcing the things I wasn’t strong at.
Your focus should be on delivering client work, not making social media images and collecting invoices. Outsource the tasks that you don’t need to be doing to someone else and focus on doing the things that either make you happy or make you money!
Honestly, if you try to be a superhero and do it all yourself, you will either burn out or start dropping the ball on important things. Be smart and outsource as soon as you can.
#4: Work-Life Balance
This is something that can be tricky to maintain when you start freelancing. I often hear new freelancers complaining about how they’ve lost their work-life balance… and it’s something that is really easy to fall into when you’re just starting out, or even when you’ve been doing it for a while.
Freelancing can be isolating, so you have to make an effort to maintain a work-life balance for yourself. Just because you now run your own business doesn’t mean that you need to work 24/7. By being aware of what you’re doing, you can schedule in downtime to make sure that you’re not overdoing it.
[Tweet “Freelancing can be isolating, so you have to make an effort to maintain a work-life balance for yourself.”]
There are a couple of other things you can do to help maintain your work-life balance:
- Change your scenery every few days. If you work from home, head out to a cafe 2-3 times per week
- If you don't have to work from home, try working closer to a friends workplace and meet them for lunch
- Make plans to catch up with friends after 'work' so that you maintain those relationships
- If you've got a family, make sure that you're 'done' when they are home, or schedule working hours so they know when you're available and when you're not
- Make real-world connections with other, local freelancers and plan to meet once a week and work together
- Try a co-working space in your area if you don't know anyone who does what you do
It’s important that you make the effort to have a balanced life. Just because you’re working for yourself, doesn’t mean that you need to say yes to every project or client that comes your way. The whole point of working for yourself is doing the things that you love more than anything else. Don’t forget that!
KEY TAKEAWAY: As a freelancer, you've been given a great opportunity to work with skills that you excel in. Once you go full-time, don't forget that you've now got flexibility and choices. Don't fall back into an employee mindset and work when your clients demand it. YOU decide what you do, no-one else!
Freelancing is awesome. Follow these tips and avoid making these mistakes. If you’ve already made them or you’re right in the middle of all of this, then review, make changes and adjust course. You can change anything about what you do whenever you want. It’s your business!
Did you grab Lise’s list of tools to make life easier as a new freelancer yet? Download here!
Have some tips you wanna share about your own experiences as a new freelancer? Leave your comments below.