12 Problems Freelancers Face & How To Solve Them

Freelancing Comments (7)

First off, this is not meant to put anyone off becoming a Freelancer. I see going freelance as one of the best career moves I made and have really enjoyed my 1st year and a bit in the self employed game. BUT , I do think it’s important that anyone contemplating (or about to join) the world of freelancing understands the negatives as well as the positives. This will help them make an educated decision and prepare for any of the downsides. So I asked the community in the Freelancers Hub Facebook Group “What is the worst thing about being a Freelancer?”.

I then used their answers to compile this list and have also provided some possible solutions to avoid these problems.

1. Variable Workloads

Although the freelancing dream is to have a constant flow of work, this is often not the case. Particularly in the first few years of establishing yourself.


  • One solution is to push for retainer based work with an agency or brand. However this is often easier said than done.
  • Or why not use that free time to sell your services on sites like or Hourlies on
  • Alternatively you could also source ad hoc projects on sites like Odesk and Elance.
  • Use that downtime to rethink your marketing efforts and come up with a fresh strategy.

2. Income, Then None

For freelancers there can be a recurring cashflow battle of ‘feast or famine’. One month you might have lots of work then virtually nothing the next. It is in those low income months that your resilience, patience and motivation can be really tested.


  • When you have it, save it! Don’t go spending what you earn or you will constantly have nothing to support you during the quiet time.
  • Push for retainer based work with an agency or brand. However this is often easier said than done.
  • Or why not use that free time to sell your services on sites like or Hourlies on
  • Alternatively you could also source ad hoc projects on sites like Odesk and Elance.

3. Long Working Hours

I, personally, left the daily grind of full time work to get away from the constant 9-5 routine dictating every facet of my freetime. So long working hours hasn’t actually been a problem for me (so far). But for some it can turn their dream job into a never ending hell. If you do what you love


  • Organise your time better by using software or professional services such as a virtual PA.
  • Outsource more to fellow freelancers and local suppliers.
  • Take on less work. I know that’s probably not helpful for most but had to be suggested.
  • Manage client expectations from the beginning including how much work is involved and how this work fits into your schedule.
  • Try and form a lifestyle business where you earn enough to pay your bills and live a relatively flexible and stress free life.
  • Try to give yourself standard working hours. That way you are working when everyone else is and can draw a line under work come 5:30pm.

4. Partner Issues

This is an interesting one and not something I considered until someone mentioned it. I can definitely relate to having a partner who works full time and doesn’t fully understand the freelancer lifestyle. Jealousy is often an issue as you (the freelancer) have such a flexible lifestyle or earn much more for less work.


This is a tricky one as every couple is different. I guess it just comes down to not overly pushing the freelance benefits in your partners face. Also trying to leave work and work and not letting it take over your personal life or relationships.

5. Responsibilities: Admin

Some folks often think going freelance is great as all you get to do is work on what you want, when you want. Wrong. Most only spend about 60% of my time working for their business, the rest is spent working on the business. By this I mean emailing, project managing, invoicing, tax returns, checking bank accounts for payments, organising insurance and the worst of all: logging receipts.


  • Utilise project management tools such as Basecamp, Asana or Zoho, to name but a few. This super list of free freelancer tools from Creative Boom may help.
  • Utilise accounting software to help you get the admin out of the way. I am a big advocate of FreeAgent which I use to handle my invoicing, receipts, expenses and taxes.
  • Get an accountant. I know this is often not a cost effective solution but if it gives you more free time it may be worth it.

6. Payment Due: Last Month

You will struggle to find a freelancer who hasn’t encountered some sort of client payment delays. They can be especially infuriating when you have delivered your work quickly and satisfactorily, and in return you get to wait forever for something that takes 30 secs to do via BACS.


  • Sometimes being honest with your client and explaining how that payment delay affects your personal or business finances can be a way to speed up the process.
  • Setup a reminder email in your invoice software that sends out automatically X many days after the invoice is overdue. That can sometimes be the nudge they need.
  • Ensure you read all of the clients supplier/contractor payment instructions prior to starting. The last thing you want it to be harping on at them, only to find the delay is down to a mistake you made.

7. Mortgage Difficulties

This is something I can personally vouch for. Most mortgage lenders will frown when they see “Freelancer” or “Self Employed” written on your application. They will no doubt want at least 1-2 years accounts and many banks will not take you on.


  • My advice in these cases is to get yourself a decent IFA (Independent Financial Advisor)
  • Use services such as Contractor Mortgages.

8. Not So Jolly Holidays

With the Easter bank holiday coming up lots of full time workers are looking forward to the extra long weekends. Us freelancers on the other hand see it as bit of a pain. It is potentially two less week days to find / do client work. A two day delay on any ‘__ working days’ invoice terms. Two week days where clients will be unavailable for any communications.


There isn’t really one. Just enjoy the opportunity to relax with your family or friends and squeeze in some work if you need to.

9. Confidence (or lack of)

Freelancing is not for the anxious or shy. If that is currently you then prepare to change. You are or will be the Sales team for your business so be prepared to make phone calls, pitches and meetings. A client needs to have confidence in your skills, experience and proposed plans.


  • There is no quick fix. Getting out there is the best remedy for building confidence. Get to local networking events, talks, launches etc.
  • Avoid hiding behind emails and tweets. Pro-actively pick up the phone and call potential prospects or current clients.

10. Isolation

Freelancing is a lonely life. You sit there by yourself. Talking to yourself whilst painting a face on Wilson, your pot plant. Laughing at your own jokes. Weeping into his dry soil (Or maybe that’s just me). Well depending on your office location and setup it can be an isolated existence and a far cry from your previous job in a busy office environment.


  • When things are getting to you why not look for some agency or in-house freelancing work?
  • Look into co-working spaces as these can be a great mix of social environments with the privacy to get on with your work. Check out

11. Lack of Benefits

Going from a work-life filled with annual outings, client meals, office parties, free fruit, health insurance and a free car to free-lancing can be a shock. This didn’t bother me, personally, as I had very few benefits at my last job and those things didn’t motivate me.


Get over it! You left that world for something better than the material or financial pleasures your boss provided you. Now you are the boss and your benefits include:

  • Choosing when you work.
  • Choosing who you work with.
  • Choosing how you work.
  • Choosing what you work on.

 12. Distractions

As you read this you may well be distracting yourself from work, admin or another joys of freelancing. In any job distractions can be a real hindrance. Freelancers tend to have greater issues with them because of the flexible working. If you work from home it may be y personal chores distracting you. If you work in a co-working space it may be other members distracting you. Social media is certainly a culprit for (don’t worry Twitter I still love you).


Everyone works differently so there is no one size fits all solution for distractions. However you might want to think about:

  • Turn off notification on your phone or desktop. (Mine literally went off and distracted me as I was typing that line, making me think I should take my own advice)
  • Turn off children and pets. Oh, wait they don’t work like that do they? No if things at home are distracting you then perhaps consider renting a desk or office.
  • Start paying attention to your mood and your energy level throughout the day. With this you will learn your natural patterns and can structure your work time in sync with them. This should help you be more productive and less distracted.


I hope the above information was helpful Are you a Freelancer? I would love to hear your problems, and even better, how you solve them. Pop them in the comments section below.

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On April 1, 2015