The Downsides of Freelancing We Need to Talk About

It’s not always as glamorous as it seems.

4 min read

Most days, I enjoy freelancing, and I’m shocked I’ve made it this far. There are many upsides to working for yourself, like flexibility, higher wages, and independence. But of course, nothing is black and white, and there is a lot of room for grey.

Today has been a nightmare for me. I’ve made a few poor decisions that left me exhausted and burnt out. So let’s talk about some reasons freelancing isn’t the “picture perfect” life you think it is.

You have to learn to say no

While this might not seem like a downside, I’ve made this mistake a lot lately. Too many opportunities landed on my lap at once, and in my eagerness, I said yes to all of them. Yikes.

I’m working on way too many projects, and I will probably let one of my clients down. If you know me, I am a very timely and organized person, so this is not normal. I’m wracked with guilt, and I know I’m going to have to work late tonight.

While saying “no” can feel empowering because it means you’re in demand, it also feels uncomfortable to have to tell someone you can’t help them. Especially if you really want to help them! You need to weigh carefully what projects you can do and what ones you can’t.

You control your work-life balance

While choosing your own schedule means you can work less, it often means you can work too much. It’s all too easy to ruin your own work-life balance. Lately, my friendships have taken a backseat, and it’s not my clients’ fault — it’s my own. I set my work hours and choose how much work to take on, so the blame here is entirely on myself.

The other day I was invited to go to a park with a friend for a socially distant coffee, and I had to decline. Plus, I haven’t been able to log in to Final Fantasy to ride my pet Chocobo for almost a week (his name is Waffles, and I miss him terribly).

You are your own IT department

In the words of The IT Crowd, “Have you tried turning it on and off again?” The answer is yes, and it is still broken! I’m not that bad with technology, I swear. In the last month, my microphone, webcam, and second monitor all “broke” on me.

And by broke, I mean the settings were somehow changed, and I had to spend hours searching things without success. No one pays me to be confused and look up things.

Luckily, I have a close friend who is an IT specialist, and he offered to help me through some of my technical difficulties. Not everyone has that, though, and so it’s important to have a plan for when sh*t hits the fan.

You’re the accounting department

Yesterday, I had to collect all my receipts and do taxes myself as a freelancer. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard because I was only freelancing a few months last year. Even so, it took me a few hours to collect everything and sort it out.

You don’t normally have to do those things in a regular job unless you’re an accountant. Last year, I didn’t make much, so I chose not to hire an accountant, but I will need more help next year.

You’ll probably get cabin fever

Working in sweatpants is a great feeling, but not leaving the house is not such a great feeling. With summer around the corner, it’s easy to miss going outside to the beach.

I try to leave the house once a day, but some days I spend so long staring at a screen jumping from one task to the next, and before I know it, the day is almost over. Then, instead of strutting to the store in my sundress, I’m sulking in my sweatpants to grab more cream for my morning coffee.

Summary

For the sake of transparency, I wanted to write about the downsides of freelancing as there are a lot of unexpected problems many don’t realize.

Here are 5 that I came to experience.

  • You have to learn to say No
  • You control your Work-Life Balance
  • You are your own IT Department
  • You’re the Accounting Department
  • You’ll probably get Cabin Fever

While I am grateful to work for myself from home when so many are unemployed due to Covid-19, it can still have downsides.

Many people quit freelancing once they realize all the hard work it involves. If you’re a freelance or hoping to be, keep these things in mind and remember you’re not alone! It’s tough, but if you can figure it out, it’s worth it.

This article was first published in Post Grad Survival Guide.

Published by Victoria A. Fraser

Freelance writer, podcast producer, and comic artist.

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