This guest post comes from Laura Gayle, founder of Business Woman Guide, a great resource for women who want to grow their business on their own terms.
The world of freelance work can be an exciting one — and also a solitary one. You get a lot of benefits by being your own boss: You set your own hours, have the power to pick and choose the projects you want to work on, and then there’s the whole “working in bunny slippers at 3 a.m.” aspect. For many people, those conditions are just dreamy.
But working alone and the isolation inherent in being a freelance worker can wear on people after a time. Going to a café can alleviate some of it, as can better time management and making an effort to get out of the house when you’re done for the day. But it’s not unusual for people who want to try freelancing to shy away from the idea because of this and other uncertainties inherent in the field.
If you’ve been nervous about taking that plunge into full-time freelancing, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at the 5 scariest things about working alone and ways to overcome them.
This may rank as the scariest of the bunch, so let’s get it out of the way. When you leave the world of regular employment and go freelance, you’re also giving up that steady paycheck.
Hopefully you have some savings built up before you leave your regular job, but sometimes you can’t wait. Maybe you’re getting laid off, or maybe you’re fleeing a toxic job situation. Sometimes you just have to go.
When you start freelancing, try to immediately work out your expenses and identify what you can cut. Decide how much you’ll set aside from each payment for taxes, expenses, and emergencies. Because the amount you get paid could vary, a percentage is usually better than a fixed amount, unless you make that fixed amount small. And don’t forget about investing and saving for retirement once you do get extra funds.
Regardless of how you go about it, putting a financial cushion in place is one of the best ways to overcome the worry about money. If possible, try to set up at least one passive income stream (for example, a vacation rental property). Another way to streamline office expenses is to consider joining a coworking space. Shared workspaces are economical options for freelancers as they offer flexible terms, don’t require huge setup costs up front, and usually offer a range of membership options to help you choose the best plan to suit your workspace needs.
As a freelancer, you’re going to have documents sent to you, and you’ll likely check out different websites for research. That increases the risk of something going wrong online. Plus, the more clients you work for, the more of their sensitive information you’ll be responsible for protecting.
If you’re worried about safeguarding important information on your computer, take a look at secure cloud storage. This type of storage takes advantage of software protection from the professionals while allowing you to access your information from anywhere there’s Wi-Fi. Also, if you ever find you need to get a new computer, you can still find all your notes and research.
Another option to enhance your security — as well as plenty of other big-office perks — is utilizing virtual office services. Features can range from phone answering or virtual mailbox services to offering options for secure Wi-Fi and private meeting rooms, depending on what you need.
Freelancing has something in common with regular employment: the chance you’ll get bored. It does happen, and your motivation can take a deep dive, especially during certain times of the year like the holidays, or the summer when warm weather and long days can put you in a summer slump. All these can make it harder to get work done — and if you don’t get work done, you don’t get paid.
Rather than trying to force yourself to stay motivated, take a look at what exactly is diverting your attention. Certainly there are times when you need to power through, but you also need to understand why you reached the point of distraction.
It’s possible that the subject matter just isn’t very interesting. If this is the case, that’s actually helpful because now you know that you’d benefit from moving your work in another direction.
Or maybe it’s burnout. Maybe you’ve been working nonstop, as so many freelancers do, whether they’re new or seasoned. In that case, you need to start scheduling breaks and creating a practical work schedule for yourself. Break-up you workday by taking a walk outside. Another plus about being in a shared workspace environment is that you can invite others to join!
There are also physical issues that can make your motivation go away. Not sleeping enough and not eating well are both major culprits, and now even inflammation may play a role. Revamp your diet and sleep habits for best results.
Loss of Security and Benefits
Staying in a job just to keep the benefits is a common reason for not going freelance. Assuming you don’t have any pressing need to keep the exact insurance or benefits provided by your job, you can simply buy your own, once you’re freelancing full-time. Yes, you’ll pay more because you no longer have an employer subsidizing the costs, but you may also find you have more choices and can put together a benefits package that really fills your needs.
Note that insurance costs vary between counties and states. If you find that the cost of insurance in your current location is prohibitive because it reflects the area’s cost of living in general, you may want to move to a different city with a lower cost of living.
Finally, there’s the ever-present spectre of loneliness. You’re on your own so much! There are people who enjoy that, but if you don’t (or not entirely), and you miss the social aspect of a regular job, try joining a coworking space.
These spaces offer low-cost memberships that let you sit in a communal office and work. Coworking spaces offer plenty of other business services and are full of other remote workers who could offer connection and inspiration.
You’re not the only one to ever have worried about the pitfalls of working alone. As you can see, there are solutions for each problem. Thousands of people do make freelancing a satisfying and lucrative career choice, just as it can be for you. So if you want to take that final step into the freelance world, go for it!
If you are tired of working alone, join one of our coworking communities and see what its like to work with us. Find a location near you.