Six freelancing hurdles and how to jump them successfully

Being a freelancer has many upsides compared to employment; a flexible approach to life and work, the ability to work from anywhere, unlimited holidays (in an ideal world) and the chance to work on a broad variety of projects that will take you to places you never dreamed of when you worked for the other guy.

However, things aren’t always plain sailing.

Here are six hurdles that you may face in your freelance career, and some strategies to help you leap over them successfully…

  1. Lack of ‘team’ to bounce ideas off

If you work within a creative industry, brainstorming ideas with others has more than likely formed a huge part of your career, but when you take the leap into freelancing, you’ll still need to develop creative strategies and come up with bold ideas to get your client noticed.

When you are first tasked with storming your solo brain to develop a creative knock-it-out-of-the-park idea as a freelance consultant, you’ll probably find the whole thing rather daunting. After all, brainstorms are usually creative processes, where ideas usually spark better ones and you’ve always got several brains to build on solid ideas (and tell you when you’re way off the mark with the dodgy ones).

If you’re struggling as a freelancer, firstly, give yourself a break and more importantly, give yourself TIME. Mull over the brief, read the news and industry titles, make an ideas file. It’s a different animal than turning up to a group brainstorm with one idea that you can throw into the mix, so don’t put pressure on yourself to come up with an award-winning campaign in five minutes.

Secondly, speak to fellow freelancers or post in freelance Facebook groups (like ours 😉 ) and run ideas past the your peers for a quick sense check if needs be. Just remember to repay the favour the next time they need a spare brain!

  1. No planning tools

When you were gainfully employed, your organisation undoubtedly had its own planning tools and templates and processes. Monthly event planners, social media planning documents, project management spreadsheet and so on and so forth.  When you go solo, you have to either make it up from scratch which isn’t always easy, or spend hours trying to source good quality templates that don’t look like they were designed using clip art in 1992.

Luckily, there are resources our there to help – in fact, The Freelance Kit was designed for this very purpose; to help fellow freelancers to take the guess work out of planning and to provide a wealth of templates that will all stand the test of time and impress any client when modified and personalised. (Shameless self-promotion, but we are here to try and help you, promise) Shop here 

Don’t forget you can always tap into the hive mind too, freelancers are kind souls who regularly spread the love by sharing best practice with others, so don’t be afraid to ask.

  1. Isolation

Isolation can be a real toughie for the self-employed. Working at your kitchen table every day in your pj’s might sound idyllic for many but in reality, not speaking to other humans on a regular basis can have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing.

Try and get out every day, even if it’s just to work from a different space or coffee shop. Collaborate with others where you can, and break your day up by meeting friends or family for a coffee. There are so many brilliant groups and meet-ups for freelancers now, so have look at what’s out there. Co-working spaces can still be expensive for freelancers but some are starting to offer more flexible options like Huckletree. There are always fantastic events programmes and networking opportunities at most of these spaces so check them out.

  1. Media lists and freelance software

If you work in the PR industry, things like media lists were easy to come by when your worked for someone else, but when you go it alone, monthly subscriptions to resources like Gorkana can seem a little out of reach.

New for 2020, we’ve added a ridiculously good value media lists service where you can access either one off or monthly lists for any sector  check it out here 

Don’t be scared to pass on software costs such as these to your clients- spread over a few clients it won’t be much more to charge but it will make a difference to your profit every month.

As a side note, if you do keep media lists on file (especially if they include the personal data of freelance writers) remember to password protect or encrypt these documents so you comply with GDPR regulations and delete any emails that include addresses etc once they are stored securely.

If you need access to other costly platforms, why not share a subscription with other freelancers?

  1. Money management

Money money money, must be funny. Well not really, in fact, learning to manage your finances as a sole trader or self-employed person can be super stressful.

In reality, once you have cracked the self-assessment beast (with the help of an accountant or not), that is a huge hurdle, but what about managing your money day to day?

A few tips are; set up a separate bank account for your business, which will make it much easier to determine your overall earnings and deductions come April (or the following January if you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants). Always set strict payment terms on your invoices and use platforms like Penny Freedom if you need to get paid more quickly. Use receipt apps to scan all of your receipts then integrate them into your accounting software or send to your accountant. Make sure you get professional indemnity insurance and most importantly – GET A PENSION. Seriously, this one can be so easy to overlook but sort out a private pension and don’t skimp on the payments.

  1. Time management

Although you are away from the drudgery of the nine to five, managing your time effectively is something you will have to really work on as a freelancer. It can be easy to procrastinate, get distracted and wind up panicking because you are late to meet a deadline.

If you work from home, and especially if you work around the family, one tip is to set up a completely separate office space where you can work in peace. Make it a haven of organisation, a space that you enjoy working from, and be disciplined about your working day right from the off.

Use to do lists, keep your diary up to date and keep a track of your time using an app such as Timely.

Structure your days into chunks for client work, admin and meetings. By having set days and times to do certain tasks, you won’t feel as overwhelmed. And set digital limits on your phone apps so you don’t waste time on social media!

Lastly, be mindful of the task in hand. All too often we’re wearing so many hats when we’re self-employed, that we feel anxious and overwhelmed, but by truly focusing on the task in front of you without emails, phone calls and social media notifications, you will start to feel calmer and more able to manage your time rather thank panic hopping to the next thing!

 

You can find our top 45 tools and tips for working from home and managing your freelance business in a handy FREE downloadable guide HERE. We also have a FREE private members group where you can find support and guidance from an established freelance community, join HERE

About The Freelance Kit

The Freelance Kit offers unique digital products, support and community for freelancers, including a 150 page high-quality and beautifully designed template kit. 

Inside the digital kit, you’ll find templates, planners and spreadsheets for every aspect of freelance life including a 15-page contract worth £300, financial planning documents, social media planning templates and ideas for content, blog topic ideas and much more. 

Along with digital products, The Freelance Kit has a private community and a soon to launch membership option. The platform was created by experts to help freelancers thrive and our hope is that the products and support will empower you to succeed, and help make your freelance life that bit easier.  

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