Here are some of the drawbacks I have experienced while being a Freelancer since 2011.
- UPS & DOWNS
Customers mean Revenue.
More Customers = More Revenue.
Less Customers = Less Revenue.
No Customers = No Revenue.
One of the biggest challenges being a Freelancer is getting customers. This is never in your hands especially when you are a freelancer. Where revenue earnings are concerned — it is highly unpredictable.
- NO GUARANTEED INCOME
There are months where you can be flooded with work. And then there are months where you just sit and there are no customers. As an employee, you know 100% what to expect every month end. However, as a Freelancer, there is no such luxury.
- OH…YOU ARE ‘JUST’ A FREELANCER?
If having a corporate position & power means a lot to you and this gives you your identity & self worth, then being a Freelancer will never get you this feeling. A Freelancer doesn’t have much recognition in the corporate world. You are just someone people call on when they need you.
- NOT A CAKE WALK
Here’s a dirty little secret — You have to work harder, much much much much more harder as a Freelancer than as an employee. And that means — initially when you start your career — you may have to end up working 14 to 16 hours a day for a couple of years. That means no going out, no parties, no picnics, no family time and no entertainment. Guess what — this was my regiment for the first 4 years of my life.
- NO WORK = NO MONEY
You do not earn when you are sick or when you are on holiday. This is a luxury you can enjoy as an employee. But as a Freelancer — nope.
- THE ONLY CONSTANT = CHANGE
Your ideas, your concepts, your work can be easily copied. You have to constantly reinvent yourself. And one more thing — if nothing else, maybe the service you are offering can go out of fashion, trend or demand. What do you do next?
- PAYMENT CAN BE A MAJOR PROBLEM
I’m lucky in this department that given how strong my brand is — I can easily demand for 100% payment in advance. However, most of the cannot put demands like this. And then there is always a problem of delay in payments or worse — being cheated and not being paid.
- STRESS CAN KILL
I’ve gone through moments in my life as a Freelancer where I have seriously wondered when would I get another customer to when and if I would ever get my payment. And when that happens — you cannot work creatively. There are also private & personal challenges that also form part and parcel of peoples lives. Stress seriously kills you!
- SELF (Mastery + Control + Discipline) = IMPOSSIBLY HARD!
There is no greater challenge on this planet than that of mastering one’s own self. Remember this much — you do not have any boss over you, you do not have anyone telling you what to do, you do not have anyone to reprimand you for not doing your work. So though that in itself may seem like the best environment in the world — it can also be the reason for your downfall. If you are addicted to anything — from drinking, gaming, fun to wasting your time & resources — no one can stop you. And that can lead to career suicide. Self-Mastery & Self-Control is no joke.
- ONE WRONG MOVE AND….
One of the unique privileges of being “your own boss” is that you call the shots, you choose your vision and you decide what course of action to take. However, this in itself is a massive gamble because whatever you do — you have to give it 100% and go in that direction at 100% speed. However, if you calculation was wrong — its game over for you. I have done this mistake many times and it is only me who has to pay the price for it.
- UNEXPECTED BUT CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCES
Beginning of this year, I went through one of the strangest & most horrific episodes ever of my freelancer career. One day as I woke up to do my work — my entire system — my iMac, Mac Book Pro, iPad & Laptop ALL OF THEM crashed within 24 hours of each other. And then to add to my misery — my bank card got blocked. And now I didn’t have a system to work with, neither did I have cash to buy a new system. Given that I was on a remote Island of Koh Samui — The earliest I could get a solution to my problem was 2 to 3 weeks. Can you imagine what a disaster this is where my work is concerned?
While being a freelancer — you can end up with some of the weirdest, challenging and sometimes career/brand threatening moments which can disrupt your life completely. And take it from me — those moments you would rethink your life choices!
- RISE OF THE CHEAPER THIRD-WORLD ECONOMY
While the internet has given rise to plenty of opportunities, it has also enabled many aspiring freelancers from third world countries to offer the same service for 50% to even 90% lesser than the existing price. Websites like Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork & Fourerr have also help flourish this trend of roping in new competition. This coupled with new comers and youngsters who have the same talent & capacity (though they lack experience) but don’t mind offering the same services for free just to prove themselves and have the experience makes Freelancing a massive challenge today.
- ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Once upon a time Website were made only by software savvy technically experienced designers. It would take days, have tons of coding involved & there would be a team of people to do the job. And yes — it would cost a lot of money. Today anyone can get a website created in minutes and it costs less than $10 a month. Think of any product or service that was once complicated or required a team of professionals and today you can get it done easily. This disruptive change in the technology landscape has lead to the demise of giants like Kodak, Nokia & Brick ’n’ Mortar companies. In the same way — whatever service a computer programmer, website designer, IT expert or any freelancer is offering — is and will be replaced by a self-sustaining AI system. And this is happening as we speak. So when that does happen — what do you do next?
So what are your thoughts after reading this article?
Let me know in the comments section below.