Among all the ways you can earn extra money – or even your full income – internet freelancing has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. It’s not hard to see why, either. It’s relatively easy to get into, offers lots of diverse niches for realizing your potential in, and can provide you with a nice stream of income that is mainly under your own control.
That said, it’s not all sunshine and butterflies on the freelancer front, and there are some issues that people like to conveniently sweep under the rug when discussing this as a possible occupation. You should be aware of those potential pitfalls and do your best to avoid them when making your first step in the freelancer market. And in cases where they’re unavoidable, simply be prepared to deal with the consequences.
Starting Out Can Be Tough
Starting out is the most challenging period. No matter what niche you pick, as long as there’s any potential for earning money in it, you can be sure that it’s already overcrowded. This means that you’re going to need some amazing skills to stand out, or alternatively, sell yourself short for a while. Don’t make the mistake of working for peanuts though. Your clients will develop an expectation for that, and it will be difficult to branch out to higher-paying clients later on without any good references.
As long as you’re patient though, you should eventually be able to get through those first steps and find yourself on the way to becoming a proper freelancer. After that, the process will be more streamlined. But getting there in the first place can be a challenge in itself.
Work Is Often Inconsistent
You should also be prepared to deal with some “dry periods” when your clients don’t have that much work to send your way. This is pretty common in many freelancing circles, and even if you’re one of the best in your field, you’re going to suffer from this problem from time to time. It’s not always about not having any work at all – it might simply be insufficient to make ends meet in your current lifestyle.
This means that you should also be more careful in the way you’re building your life in the first place, as you shouldn’t get too accustomed to having lots of disposable income. Unless, of course, you have a solid backup plan for those dry periods.
The Extra Freedom Is Not Always a Benefit
The fact that you’re free to work whenever you want, wherever you want, is often presented as the biggest advantage of being a freelancer. But for some people, it’s also the biggest problem with the profession. It’s easy to start postponing work when you know that you can just catch up later on. And on the other hand, you’ll always have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you could be working right now.
That’s not the case with a regular 9-5 job. You leave the office at the end of the day, and you spend your evening completely detached from your work. Freelancers have it completely differently, and if you don’t put some effort into separating your work and life, this is going to come back to bite you later on.
Just because you don’t work in an office doesn’t mean that networking is suddenly irrelevant to you. Quite on the contrary, you can benefit a lot from expanding your network of contacts as a freelancer, and putting your name out there. This will be especially useful in cases where you’re having trouble getting extra work, as you can ask past clients for references in that case.
Take full advantage of any opportunities like conferences and meetups for freelancers, even if they’re not in your specific niche. You can gain a lot from spending some time talking to others, exchanging ideas and contact details, and letting them know what you’re capable of.
You should always think about the possibility of earning some extra money on the side though, even if your freelancing starts to go well. Consider the option of taking out a loan, and don’t disregard it if you’re in a difficult situation. It can sometimes pull you out of a huge mess with minimal repercussions after that, but it’s something that has to be used responsibly and with full understanding of the implications attached to it.
It’s also not a bad idea to stay at your day job until things have truly reached a stable level. You don’t know how you’re going to progress through your freelancing over time, and you definitely don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re stuck without both sources of income.