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Freelancer 101: 5 Obstacles You should Prepare Yourself for

Working as a freelancer has its ups and downs. Scroll through to prepare yourself for obstacles that you may have to conquer while freelancing!

  1. Unstable Workflow
  2. Labelled as “unemployed”
  3. Risk of Working for a Low Pay or Exposure
  4. Unrealistic Deadlines
  5. Probability of Late Payment Follow-Up

Unstable Workflow

One of the perks of being a freelancer is the luxury of a flexible schedule. As a freelance practitioner, you’ve got the time and energy to take on as many or as little clients as you possibly can, and work at your own pace to meet with deadlines.

This is also where it could potentially get a little cumbersome: You’d either be too busy or too idle, too comfortable or cutting down on meals to make ends meet! Because freelancers don’t work the usual 9-5, the workload that comes in depends on whether you’ve got clients to work with. On some days, you’d be buried with a heavy workload, rushing deadlines and assignments, and on other days, you could be sitting around looking for clients to give you tasks so that you can put food on the table!

While it’s great that you have control and flexibility over your own time and schedule management, the instability and inconsistency are aspects that you really need to manage beforehand, by budgeting your monthly allowances ahead and preparing for drier months.

Labelled as “unemployed”

This is a word that most freelancers cringe to. Not that there’s anything wrong with being unemployed, but it’s more of the negative connotation that comes with not having a full-time job. Pretty sure that many freelancers have gone through a phase of others questioning what they did for a living just because they weren’t being held down by a standard 9-5 desk-bound position.

The term “freelance” may often turn into an “excuse for not working” to people around you. Friends and family may even get you to run errands and other hand-me-down jobs just because “it’s not like you’re busy with a job anyway”!

As much as possible, stick to a daily routine and set your own “office hours”! If you’re the type of person who works better from 4-10pm, make sure to always work on your projects during that period of time so that there’s no room for any unnecessary comments about your “unemployment”.

Risk of Working for a Low Pay or Exposure

It’s unfortunate that many businesses have the impression that they can cut down on a lot of their budget if they engage freelancers, attempting to low-ball for their services. They’re always looking for the best service at the lowest price, sometimes unaware about what the typical market rates are. Some even offer to pay in terms of “exposure bucks”, also known as publicity, instead of monetary incentives!

I know right?! Unacceptable!

A lot of frustration on this end churns out inferior end results. A true testament to “You get what you pay for”.

Of course, to avoid such issues with organisations, make sure that you minimize chances of it happening by posting your rates clearly on your website, negotiate or only respond to jobs that fall within your accepted rates!

Unrealistic Deadlines

Whether you’re working as a full-timer or a freelancer, pretty sure you’re familiar with this issue all too well. A lot of clients’ demands come from a place of unfamiliarity about the industry, or maybe ignorance despite being told that certain rates and services are as such.

Take “minor changes” for example. To a designer, “minor changes” mean to tweak small elements within the design, and sometimes these services are chargeable and take time to be completed. BUT, the same logic doesn’t necessarily follow through to the other party! Some even expect you to be right at your computer to live-edit any changes that they’ve requested for at any point of the day (whether or not it’s during office hours). Why? Because you’re a “freelancer” and your time is more “flexible”.

Always make sure that you’re firm on deadlines and the number of edits or changes that the Client will be entitled to. And that anything after that will be chargeable, and deadlines might be pushed back. Let your client know about this so that you manage their expectations, as well as your own.

Probability of Late Payment Follow-Up

You’d think that negotiating of agreed rates for services would be the hardest part to handle in terms of freelancing, but nope. Imagine encountering a client who pays extremely late due to the lack of organisation within their own hierarchy, or the need for cheque clearances through many levels.

There’s so much stress following payment issues between freelancers and clients that it gets too frustrating.

Alas, as a freelance practitioner who operates as a one-man brand, sometimes it’s really up to us to take responsibility and manage our own expectations and responses to make sure that payment comes in as soon as possible so that you can treat yourself for the hard work put in.

Never forget to keep detailed records of which client owes you, and when it’s due. If you know that you’re working with a client who has paid late in the past, don’t feel shy to ask for payment upfront or a deposit of some sorts. Always protect yourself and your works first, whenever taking up freelancing projects.


Though there are 1001 problems faced by freelancers when it comes to dealing with projects/deliverables/deadlines/clients etc, there’s always a flip side to it.

Hey, at least you have ultimate flexibility, your own working environment with more freedom and solitude, right?

Project Shop
July 4, 2018