The 9 Hardest Things About Being a Freelancer

There are pros and cons to every career, but working as a freelancer has its own set of disadvantages that we don't always consider. Let's face it, for all the freedom and excitement that comes with being your own boss, freelancing is hard work.

Here are some of the hardest things you'll face during your freelance lifetime:

  1. Loneliness

    • You’re the only one who can meet with that client, the only one who can knock out that deliverable. And, unlike having an office job where you can turn to colleagues or a team for help and conversation, you're probably at home (alone) or sitting at a coffee shop (again, alone) while you get it all done. You essentially are a one (wo)man show when you go freelance, and that's been known to affect people in surprising ways. Luckily for you, co-working spaces have been popping up with more frequency, some have even been known to offer free one day trials so you can gauge if it's for you.

  2. Unpredictable Income

    • Working freelance isn't a stress-free road to riches. In fact, running your own show means you might not actually know when you’ll receive your next paycheck or even how much you'll actually get. Some of us get a thrill out of the unknown, but sometimes it just downright crushes your soul when you’re trying to get your business off the ground and clients don't pay up when expected.

  3. 24/7 Availability

    • Some clients have ZERO boundaries. Oftentimes you’ll struggle to manage unreasonable deadlines and overzealous expectations of deliverables, then toss in middle-of-the-night 'urgent' emails, well, it's a nervous breakdown ready to happen. One of the hardest things you'll have to learn as a freelancer is how to set boundaries and manage expectations.

  4. Lack of Benefits

    • Freelancing doesn't come with a package of health insurance, 401K or paid time off. Struggling to figure out how to support your healthcare needs and retirement planning can be a bit overwhelming, but not impossible. Freelancer's Union is a great place to start if you need information on how to build your own safety net.

  5. Start-up Costs

    • It takes an initial investment on your part before you can go off on your own. Consider all of your potential costs, which can add up quickly, including: reliable computer, high-speed internet, other devices, software and maybe even items to make you look legit like business cards or a website.

  6. You wear ALL the hats

    • You’re every employee of the business:  you're the head of HR, business development, marketing, R&D, CEO, secretary - all you. You're it.

  7. Distractions

    • Not having a structured work schedule or traditional work lifestyle means you could fall into the distraction trap. Distractions are everywhere, from your family to chatty neighbors, day drinking with friends, watching TV, running errands, housekeeping and yes, even your pets. Even your laptop can turn into a massive distraction if you find yourself using it for entertainment instead of work. Developing keen time management skills is the only thing that will help keep you focused and productive.

  8. Taxes

    • When you don't have your taxes automatically deducted from your paychecks, it's hard to know what to do. Are you a business owner? A contract employee? Do you pay now or later? Navigating taxes can be complex and time consuming. And whether you choose to establish an LLC or be a sole proprietor, stay in your home base or travel, the rules and regulations will vary, but one thing remains the same: you have to pay taxes somewhere.

  9. Lack of Resources

    • Without the framework of an established company, you'll have to figure out how to obtain the critical resources that you need in order to get your work done. You'll spend a lot of time researching and learning which tools make the most sense for your freelance business and in turn will need to build your own database of best practices.

But don't get it twisted, despite a few expected bumps in the road, freelancing can be totally fulfilling and absolutely worth it in the end.