The struggles of freelancing tackle a wide array of aspirations, experiences, and frustrations. This contains observations I gathered from other freelancers I know or from my own experiences as well. Remember to keep an open mind while reading through this, okay?
Most of our parents tell us to find work right after we graduate college. That’s the ideal plan. However, if we let them tell us what to do all the time, when will we find the right path for us? I know this deviates from the topic itself but some freelance in order to make ends meet. Our bodies face different challenges such as body pain, mental block, and illnesses that struck us whenever.
In my own words, it’s having the liberty to work for a number of clients instead of binding yourself with just one employer. It gives the liberty to improve and invest skills of independent contractors. Skills vary and fall under:
- Virtual assistance
Different companies look for freelancers to work for them. Some hire for short time yet if the trust between the client and the freelancer exists, the short-term employment may result to something long-term.
The Struggles of Freelancing
For every freelancer or remote worker in the world, struggles and hindrances exist that prevent us from doing the job accurately and quickly. Some end up losing clients due to these struggles. Living in a third world country results to the first and most common struggle of any freelancer in the Philippines.
#1 Stable internet connection
Most freelancers rely on a stable and speedy internet connection. However, with the current state of the country, it’s almost impossible to find a stable internet connection with great customer service and speed. When I began my freelancing career as an online English tutor, I browsed the website of one of the biggest and most popular providers in the country. With that in mind, I know you’re thinking about PLDT. That’s true. Without much knowledge of the difference of fiber connection to a DSL connection, I opted for the latter.
Later on, I realized that other providers exist with a more competitive set of plans to choose from. Moving into my flat, I chose Sky which by far, the most affordable plan I ever tried. For a month, I get to pay Php 999 with 5mbps speed already. That’s a good deal already, come to think of it. However, for more than a month, I experienced the worst when you ask about stability. Whenever I have meetings (of course, online), I wouldn’t be able to connect.
Lastly, I applied to another provider which is Globe. So far, service is good even if it only is a DSL connection. Now, I have two (2) internet service providers and I get to observe which one’s better. So far, both work good and fine.
#2 Being unproductive
Freelancers struggle with finding the suitable workflow that fits them and their daily lives. As a writer, one of the struggles I faced was forcing myself to write in the afternoon or whenever there’s still a sun. Naturally, I’m more productive at night to early morning (around 2 am or 3 am) and that’s unacceptable to some. My body adjusted pretty easy when asked to work on an evening shift that extends to the first half of the usual graveyard shift.
Now, working remotely allows us to work from the comfort of our beds which seemingly may hinder productivity. In order to be productive even working at home, creating a workflow that fits you will help you. This determines how you start working and finishing the tasks on time. Some use focus timers such as Tide that applies the Pomodoro technique that motives someone to work for a certain amount of time. Then takes a break for a short while before beginning to work again.
While some may think this adds more hassle to the struggle, but from my experience, it really helps! This helps you get things done more efficiently. In another context, this is what most would call as working smart.
#3 Finding clients for freelancing
More of than not, freelancers aim to find a client that will last a lifetime. Of course, in reality, that’s not the case. Some freelancers find their long-term clients, however, some struggle with finding even just one. Luckily, various platforms exist in order to find work that you see fit for your skills and talents.
Some of those platforms include:
- Online Jobs PH
- Groups on social media sites
- Word of mouth
If you’re lucky, some of the brands find you through your portfolio and social accounts where you post your works and other output. That gives a feeling of floating among the clouds like you’re in cloud nine! When you find a client, ensure that you negotiate properly about everything. From how will the work be done, scheduling, and how will they be paying you (which brings me to the next struggle).
#4 Modes of payment
Most get giddy when they secure a client and get to work. However, one of the main issues begin with when do they get paid or how will they even get paid. Before, during the first month of my freelancing, I had this client who asked me to create social media banners for the social accounts of restaurants they manage. When I felt that I needed money after around 2-3 weeks of creating and managing, I sent them an invoice. However, they did not pay me at all.
What did I learn?
For freelancers, it gives us the challenge to overcome anxiety when it comes to payment or remuneration. In this culture, Filipinos find it very hard to ask for people for money especially if the person owes them some amount. The same thing goes for freelancers asking their clients for their salaries.
A number of clients ask us to refer to them by their first names since we’re all equal. That got imprinted on my mind and ever since I’m straightforward in speaking to clients. This may be nerve-wracking to some but it helps us in communicating properly especially when it comes to financial talks. Obtaining an open communication with your client allows you to be more when it comes to getting details about the work. It helps me get my questions answered especially I want to know every inch of detail before I begin working on something. This lessens errors and gets the job done more quickly.
#5 A virtual office or workspace
Alongside with creating a suitable workflow for you, finding the right workspace for you comes next. I personally find it hard to settle with one kind of workspace. Most of the time, I rearrange my desk and fix my flat’s layout hoping to find another spot that won’t block my creative flow.
Other freelancers thrive well working outside the comfort of their homes. They find a café or a coworking space nearby and work there. I did that before, too. However, what stuck with me was working at home, wearing my home clothes and walking around or lying down whenever possible. That was it for me.
When you assign a spot in your home to be your workspace, remember this few tips.
Creating a workspace in your home:
- Find a spot that gets an ample amount of light. Daylight prevents the laziness and encourages you to work better and absorb more positive vibes.
- Get a seat that helps you improve your posture and provides a good distance from your eyes to the laptop.
- Create a mood board where you place some inspirational quotes or artworks to inspire you whenever you work. Put it in front of you, hang it.
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With every hurdle you face during your freelancing journey, remember it always gives you a lesson. Find the beauty between every obstacle and turn it in your favor.