The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Freelancing

People now work on the go and at home. Nearly 50 percent of the American workforce works on a freelance basis. Do you want to join the trend? You choose where and when to work and decide how much you earn.

Just like everything we are used to, freelancing comes with its good, bad, and ugly aspects that one can’t overlook. For some of us, it's a chance to take control of our career path. For others, it's exploitation. However, knowing all sides beforehand will prevent you from getting burned.

The Good

When we have no boss on our neck, we are ourselves, letting all our creativity come into play! Other than deadlines to meet, there isn’t any limitation as to when to work. Instead of the obvious 8-to-5 working time, we decide when it's best to work. What does this mean to you? Better job satisfaction and higher efficiency.

At least you have dodged a bullet! There are no politics in the office, no shoulders to rub for favors, promotions etc., no ‘’man-hunt’’ kind of co-workers. Just customize your office the way you want.

While you may have dodged a bullet within a company wall, there are far more bullets out there starting from your name being dragged through the mud by clients and even from other freelancers as they outsource as well. Just keep your head up and handle it! But before you agree to a task, let the client know exactly what you will offer within an agreed deadline. Instead, make an ‘’under promise’’, but ‘’over deliver’’ the task.

Control Finances

How much will you charge per hour? Obviously, your efforts determine your earnings. This is good because it will make you work harder instead of getting depressed while seeing your efforts swept under the carpet in office politics. You will be inspired to help more clients so as to earn more and gain good reviews, which boost your online reputation. Who would want to earn it any other way? But you have a price to pay. One of the prices to pay is:

Be Self-Disciplined

What keeps successful freelancers ahead of others is self-discipline. Millennials sometimes get lazy if no one is watching. At the end of the day, some give numerous excuses why projects assigned to them are not ready yet. Why get stressed out to meet the deadline at the eleventh hour when one should have started working earlier?

Always get to work. You are a one-man squad, don’t just forget that and the moment you become complacent, your finances starts to drain.

The Bad

The second name for freelancing is “Oh, my bad!” Freelancers often apologize over and over again for mistakes made. Clients do the same. The gig economy has this in common.

You laugh but there is one that holds no grace for mistakes — the law. In fact, the IRS warns that just by classifying someone as a freelancer, there are tax consequences. Well, the employer has to worry about that right? Since they are the ones the law was meant for and will have to pay employment taxes for the freelancer.

Don’t Forget Taxes

Don’t think you will have the last laugh, as there is a tax law meant for you as a freelancer. You need to keep track of each buyer’s country of origin and report it in when you’re declaring tax. Sound easy but most US big freelance platforms aren’t buying it. If you are from the UK and you freelance on US based platforms, rethink. Continuing using the platforms means you could be at risk for tax fraud.

You need to be aware of the tax implications. Don’t fall a victim of tax fraud by not planning your taxes. Most especially, plan earlier, mostly around December each year and stick with freelance platforms that adhere to your country laws.

Even Clients Know-It-All

While there is a tax headache to deal with, add one more — clients. There is a gap between what clients think they know and what they do understand about a specific task. The work done might fall out but you worked as the client strictly instructed. Some clients will admit it’s their fault and work with you to fix it but the know-it-all-type will insist the fault is yours and blame you for not sticking to instructions. If you take on this type of client, they’ll drive you bankrupt and you may end up with an overdraft. How do they do that?

Watch Out For Payment Providers

As payment providers compete for customers, filling for a charge back is few clicks away, common with credit card companies. Have you gotten any notification that you owe a freelance platform after you withdraw your earnings? How is that possible?

Some clients file for a charge back with their credit card company after a job has been completed and they seem unsatisfied. Most of them get their funds back. So, the platform turns up to you to get it back. If there are no funds in your account, it will be deducted from your future earnings. You either pay or you leave all the positive reviews you have gained over the years on the platform.

Don’t Rely On Escrows

This type of clients come with generic or jobs with some clauses. As you try to understand exactly what they want, they slightly twist it without you even noticing. If you fall into their trap and a dispute occurs, they will win, because those clauses are only understood by them and will straighten all the clauses during a dispute resolution.

The Ugly

When you’re running your freelance business, you need to be multi-talented. Sometimes, part of the client task might require some skill set you are not yet familiar with, which means you need to acquire such skills or you outsource it to someone who can do it. This is where it can become ugly because if anything goes wrong, your reviews and reputation get stained.

If you think you can avoid negative reviews by hiding under a fake name, photo, or with just a user/nickname, you have just hidden your brand. It might be devastating after years of freelancing on freelance platforms to realize you wasted your time in hiding.

Save the tears, get a website, and create a brand now if you don’t have any. Let your user/nickname on any freelance platform be your real or brand name. As you contact potential clients, let them know more about you on your website. The idea isn’t to work with them outside the freelance platform. The idea is to let them bookmark and share your site or simply to become a subscriber while you grow your network. Who knows what the future has in stock?

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Author Bio: Blessing is the founder and CEO of Hourspent. She is responsible for setting the overall direction for the company. Blessing spent six years freelancing for over 100 businesses with her team. She won 2016 EO GSEA Award and studied business management at Business School Netherlands. She also learned AI, VR, UX/UI design and few programming languages from top Universities on Coursera. She is studying computer science at MOUAU.

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