9 Common Problems Freelancers Face and What to Do About Them

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This article is Part IV in a 5-part series on earning more through freelancing.

Freelancing comes with many perks, but it’s far from problem free. From dealing with unrealistic clients to managing your own time to coping with a lack of work, there are many common problems that freelancers face.

Don’t worry. The experts are here to help.

1. It takes up too much time

The problem:

Corbett BarrMy biggest issue with consulting is that it can easily consume all of my available working hours, but that’s not my long-term business strategy. My goal is to consult on a very limited basis and to focus the rest of my efforts on building great products. Right now I spend 50% or so of my time consulting, but I’d like that to be 25% or less. — Corbett Barr

Thursday BramMy biggest frustration right now is that, as my business is growing, I have less time to work on my own projects (such as the ebooks I’ve released). — Thursday Bram

Naomi NilesMy number one frustration at the moment is insufficient time to spend on the work itself. As I’m sure you know, running your own business requires a lot of time each day for communication, administration tasks, marketing, etc. I feel that it’s been a productive day if I get 4 hours of billable work in.

Sure, you can outsource some things. But, you can’t outsource yourself! — Naomi Niles

The solution:

Thursday Bram
I’m in the process of restructuring my business to actually take on fewer clients and work on my own projects more. — Thursday Bram

It can be tough, but sometimes you need to rebuild the business to create a better life.

2. You’re really busy — or you’re really not

The problem:

Mars DorianSometimes you think you hit the jackpot because you get many clients, and then you go through a week that proves the opposite. — Mars Dorian

The solution:

Annabel CandyMany people wouldn’t be comfortable with this, but we’ve turned it around and if there’s less work on we make the most of it and clock off early to go to the beach. Of course when there’s lots of work we just have to knuckle down and get it done but it’s satisfying to know that you’re working for people who really appreciate your help. — Annabel Candy


3. Your clients have unrealistic expectations

The problem:

Greg RollettThe frustration comes from their expectations. People want me to create a black box that prints money. Getting them to see how much work goes into this is really a difficult thing. Everyone thinks the Internet drives overnight success, but what they don’t see is the work that went in for years that made it look overnight. That is tough when you have clients that need profits now, and are shortsighted. — Greg Rollett

The solution:

Greg Rollett
You have to weed them out and work with the people you truly believe in. — Greg Rollett


4. Your clients want to do your job for you

The problem:

Colin WrightYou’re not supposed to say it, but clients are the biggest hurdle keeping you from producing your best work. They are emotionally involved with their businesses, so they feel they should have their hands in the work you’re doing for them. This means that – despite the fact that they are ostensibly paying you for your expertise – they are making (uneducated) decisions that you should be making and instead paying for your labor, not your ideas.

This is a bad situation, because it regulates you to the status of technician rather than creator, and you’ll be paid accordingly. — Colin Wright

The solution:

Colin WrightThis frustration actually led me to where I am now, where I take on FAR fewer clients (only a few at a time) that I choose very carefully (ones that value my ideas and the full value I can offer, rather than, say, my Photoshopping skills) and spend the rest of my time creating products and services that have customers rather than clients.

My frustration levels have almost disappeared as a result, and I think a lot of freelancers would do well to be more careful when choosing clients. The client may have the money and therefore make the final decision, but that doesn’t mean you need to perpetuate the cycle of bad work being done because they hold the purse strings. Do what you can to convince them of the right way to do things, but if you can’t, fire them. — Colin Wright


5. Your clients are not following directions

The problem:

Sharon Hurley HallNot getting paid on time – or at all. I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had many non-paying clients as I ask for a deposit up front and am pretty good at spotting potential scams. However, when a client who previously has been OK has had unexpected cash flow problems, that’s where I’ve been affected. — Sharon Hurley Hall

The solution:

Lisa Morosky
Sometimes you need to teach your clients how to treat you (i.e., to communicate details and expectations clearly). — Lisa Morosky

Most client issues arise as a result of poor communication. If you fail to clearly outline payment terms, milestones, and other expectations, then the client will fail to meet your hopes. It’s your job to communicate effectively, it’s their job to follow suit.

6. Your clients are skeptical

The problem:

James ChartrandFrustration? That way, WAY too many clients come to us asking for help to fix what someone else has done. There are too many amateurs and fly-by-nighters out there doing crappy work and taking money for it. By the time clients come to us, their business is hurting, they’re out of money and they’re skeptical of almost everyone. They’ve been burned and their trust is shot. — Men with Pens

Dawn MartinelloMy frustration stems from the stigma that working from home has to equal a scam.  Or that I’m sitting around eating bon bons instead of actually making the magic happen. —- Dawn Martinello

The solution:

James ChartrandI love – LOVE – turning that situation around. It’s fulfilling to turn that skepticism into smiles and watch our clients go on to succeed in huge ways. — Men with Pens

Nothing crushes skepticism like results.

7. You’re struggling to get clients

The problem:

Srinivas Rao
The biggest frustration for me is that getting to that first few clients takes time. — Srinivas Rao

A solution:

Lea WoodwardI part-organised and then attended a networking event where I knew a whole roomful of my ideal clients would be attending. I was an active, involved participant in many of the discussions, sharing ideas, thoughts & feedback (not promoting my services or myself) and had people handing me their business cards when they left. That single event alone netted me 5 clients and many more over the next few months. — Lea Woodward

There are many, many ways to solve this one. You’ll find a boatload of tips and tricks for landing clients in Part II of this series here.

8. Your clients quit on you

The problem:

Kelly KingmanI find it frustrating when someone pays for a package, and then, for any number of reasons, they get sidetracked or have to postpone the project. I know that life happens, it’s just nice to see things through to completion and feel the satisfaction of helping them accomplish something. I used to think I was doing something wrong, but a wise friend and experienced coach (Gary Barnes) helped me see that you can’t make people go faster than they’re ready to go. — Kelly Kingman

Jenny BlakeSometimes I have clients drop-off without saying anything to me. It just makes me feel a little sad that we don’t get to close out the relationship, and I’m not sure if there was anything I could have done differently to ensure it was a good experience for them. Sometimes it might have nothing to do with me, but I have no way of knowing that.— Jenny Blake

Catherine CaineMy biggest frustration is clients who don’t take action. I make money, but I don’t feel wonderful about my work if it doesn’t have a big impact. In fact, I’ve launched a new website and business model to attract only clients who are ready to take action. — Catherine Caine

The solution:

Jenny Blake
For this line of work you have to be prepared to have clients come and go at random times. — Jenny Blake

Don’t take it personally.

9. The problem: Your income fluctuates randomly

The solution? Part V of the Freelancing Series.

Want even more?

There is nothing unreasonable, unrealistic, or even unusual about doing business online. It’s still people working with people.

If you’re serious about earning more, then sign up for Passive Panda’s Freelancing 101 Course. It’s included for free when you join Passive Panda’s Free Newsletter on Earning More.

The course and newsletter are totally free, but I am still willing to say that you will earn $500 in 5 weeks if you put the tactics to use right away. In fact, I personally used the exact strategies in the course to earn $655 from just 6 hours of work on my first try.

This article is Part IV in a 5-part series about earning more through freelancing.

Part I: Getting started | Part II: Getting clients | Part III: Higher rates | Part V: Scaling the business

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