20 Reasons Freelancers Are Struggling


If you’re a freelancer who is tired of struggling, or if you’re one who doesn’t want to join that club, consume this list of habits that get freelancers into financial trouble.

1) You’re too focused on how many jobs you have instead of how much those jobs pay. So, you’re working a lot for a little.

You’re playing the wrong numbers game. The object isn’t to work as much as you can, it’s to get as much as possible from the work that you do.

2) You’re working for exposure. A lot of people are looking for free content and you’ve volunteered to be a source.

Exposure can’t feed you or pay your bills. Stop working for free.

Related: Should You Write for Exposure?

3) You’re distracted by reputation. When you have the opportunity to work with a big-name you’re willing to do it for little or nothing.

If your work is worth having, it’s worth paying for. Don’t get pimped for the sake of name-dropping.

4) You’re afraid to ask for what you want. You’re so scared that perspective clients will get sticker shock or choose someone else that you under-bid and accept low-ball offers.

Stop assuming clients won’t pay. When you do, you’re essentially offering discounts to  people who haven’t asked for them.

5) You’re afraid to increase your rates. You’ve been working with the same clients for several years now. Wages have gone up. The cost of living has gone up. But your fees are still the same.

Like any business, you have to revisit and adjust your rates from time to time to keep your services sustainably priced.

6) You’re not charging for the extras. When you’re asked to do a little extra, you don’t ask to be paid any extra. So, you end up giving away marketable services for free.

Remember you’re a contractor, not an employee. You’re not there to contribute to the team. You’re there to profit from your skills.

See Also: You’re A Laborer, Not A Professional Freelancer If…

7) You’re afraid to push for payment. And since you don’t have the backbone to go after money that’s owed to you, your clients pay you when, and if, they feel like it.

Stop ignoring overdue invoices and stop working for clients that have a shoddy payment history.

8) You don’t update your skills. You’ve been doing the same thing, the same way since Y2K. As the market evolves, you can’t shift to high-paying segments or offer attractive add-on services because you’re stuck in an outdated groove.

Keep up or you’re going to get left behind. Freelancing requires continued learning.

9) You relying on a single revenue stream. All your money comes from one thing–freelance jobs. You’ve ignored all the advice that tells you to diversify your income sources.

Start listening to reason and stop obsessing over the idea that success means being successful at one thing. Establish multiple sources of revenue.

10) You keep relying on anchor clients. Most of your money comes from a single freelance client and no matter how many times you get burned by that, you refuse to acknowledge the risk.

Stop putting yourself into situations where one client can create a financial crisis for you. That’s too much power given away and too little kept.

11) You’re spending everything you earn. Instead of accepting that freelancing has its ups and downs so you need to live below your means you blow the money when it’s flowing and scramble when it’s not.

Create a budget and start saving so you can stay out of the feast and famine cycles.

12) You make your situation worse with debt. In addition to spending all the money you make, you’re accumulating a stack bills based on what you expect to get.

Stop spending money you haven’t earned yet. And don’t create financial obligations based on money you’re owed but haven’t received.

Also Read: Do You Understand Invoices Aren’t Money?


13) You didn’t prepare for the future. You haven’t saved. You haven’t invested. You don’t have an emergency fund and you don’t have a retirement account. Now, you’re in trouble.

Depending on how old you are, you might need to contact a financial advisor ASAP. If you’re still young or middle-aged, start allocating money to savings, investments, and retirement.

14) You work when you want to and that’s not very much. Your goal is simply to earn enough money to get what you want and do what you want.

Set real financial goals so you don’t end up in the situation above. That work-to-play mentality will catch up and crush you.

15) You’re not looking for higher-paying jobs. Sure, you’re struggling but you’re comfortable enough that you don’t feel a need to look for better opportunities.

Fight complacency. It’s dangerous for the self-employed.

16) You don’t pay attention to red flags. When things look shiesty or there are indications that the nectar from a client or niche is drying up, you ignore the signs, hoping for the best. But a lot of times hope doesn’t pay off.

To succeed, you have to analyze risks and make decisions accordingly.

17) You’re spending too much on unnecessary stuff. You buy products and services you don’t need and waste a lot of money updating things that don’t need updating.

Constantly shopping for your business is often just a way to avoid doing real work. And without real work, you can’t make real money.

18) You take on major projects without milestone payments, which means you choose to go extended periods without getting paid for work that requires a lot of time. And you put yourself at risk of never getting paid for that work.

When you take on major jobs, create a schedule where the client to pays you throughout the course of the project.

19) You don’t make quarterly tax payments. You earned more than you expected. Now you’re facing a huge tax bill you can’t afford.

Pay in advance so you avoid unnecessary problems with IRS and the financial strain that could come with them.

20) You’re carrying dead weight. You’re trying to build a freelance career and stay hitched to someone who makes little or no financial contributions to your household. And since he/she hardly contributes you don’t have anyone to fall back on when times get rough.

Use your head to factor financial considerations into your relationship choices. Letting your heart or body do all the decision-making could lead to disaster.