3 Downsides of Freelancing Online

Earlier I wrote about how awesome it is to work online. You can work from anywhere in the world, you don’t have a boss, you can earn a healthy amount of money, and so on. That’s fantastic and I meant every word of it. There are downsides too though, and it’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve really started to notice them. If you work online, can you relate to any of these?

1. Lack of Client Communication

For me, this warrants spot number one. When I wrote about having clients (and not needing a resume) I was looking at as a major positive, and I still see it that way. However, the flip-side is that when you have lots of different clients, not all of them are going to treat you as you might like.

The best clients provide feedback and answer your questions in a timely manner. The worst don’t say anything and never return your emails. I’ve found that most clients fall somewhere in the middle. They’ll usually answer your questions, but not all the time. What I’ve found is the absolute worst though, is when a client stops giving you work for no apparent reason.

For example, I’ll turn in a few articles, the client will thank me (or not) and then I won’t hear back from them. That leaves me in a mental fog. Did I fuck up somehow, are the articles not what they wanted? Or is there just no more work right now?

Not only is this taxing mentally, it also makes it difficult to plan ahead. At the moment I have contracts with guaranteed work for the next month. Everything else is always on the chopping block. This is opposite of a traditional paycheck, which arrives week in and week out. I believe this is something that all self employed people experience, whether you work online or not.

2. The Need to Constantly Find New Work

I imagine that this will change in the future. As I continue to work online I hope to pick up steady clients and find more consistent, reliable work. However, at the moment I spend several hours a week looking for new work. There are two reasons for this.

As I mentioned above, sometimes clients leave me out in the rain. I deliver a product and then don’t hear from them again. Especially frustrating since I actually work really hard on every single article and I crave feedback. If they have a problem, I wish they would tell me! Every month a certain small percentage of my work disappears like this.

Sometimes it’s the other way around though, and I leave a client. The best example of this is a job I quit last week. I was working for Udemy, looking for email addresses of technology bloggers. It was stable work at $11 an hour. Comfortable, ridiculously easy, and I was good at it too, routinely beating their average time requirements for finding a certain number of addresses. However, the work wasn’t furthering my career. I could do it for 100 hours, earn $1,100 and still be in the same spot as when I started.

That’s different then writing articles. Every article brings me one step closer to achieving my long term goals. With every article I gain a sliver of new experience, I have something new to add to my portfolio and I learn a bit more about SEO. You don’t get any of that when you’re searching Google for Bloggers. That’s why sometimes I quit jobs, even good jobs, in order to find work that will bring me closer to achieving my goals. Giving up the short term to further the long term is great, but you still need to find new clients when you do it.

3. Explaining to People How I Earn Money

Seriously though, this gets old. Typical conversation goes like this (usually in Russian since I’m in Ukraine, but I’ll write it out in English).

“So what do you do for a living?”

“I write online.”

“You mean you’re a blogger?”

“Well, sort of. I write articles for different companies around the world.”

“You studied this in university?”

“No, I just started doing it four or five months ago”

“What do you write about?”

“Ummm, well I wrote about bedbugs today, but yesterday I wrote about a motel in Australia.”

“Wow. That sounds…. Cool!”

Eyes glazed, no comprehension. I’m fairly certain that half of the people I talk to think that I’m making this shit up. They probably think that every day I actually sneak off to go work in a factory or sell hot dogs on a street corner. It’s outside of most people’s reality that some guy from Australia who I’ve never met and will never meet is willing to pay me $20 an article to write about his motel.

A Freelancer’s Lifestyle

That, in a nutshell, is what I find difficult about working online. Number three isn’t really that bad though, just sort of annoying. I don’t think people take me seriously when I tell them how I earn money. They think I’m a fruit, or that I just don’t want to tell them what I really do.

All things considered I really like working online. I’ll take these downsides any day versus the drawbacks of previous jobs that I’ve held. If you want to find out how you can get started, read my post: How to Make Money Online. In the post I break down the procedure of finding work online into a series of easy steps. Anyone can do it, so long as you want it bad enough. Are you ready for something better?

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