Trainer/ Assessor Going Freelance? The 5 Pitfalls You Need To Look Out For

There are lots of benefits about going freelance: being your own boss, working flexibly around your other commitments, and working how you want to, where you want to and when you want to. But, when beginning or considering the move to freelance work, there are a few things you need to look out for.

1.    Loneliness and Isolation

When you’re working freelance, a lot of your time will be spent working from home or in multiple locations. Not having a fixed base can mean that you lack interactions with other people, either through spending so much time on your own or because you don’t have regular colleagues to build connections and relationships with.

These feelings can be exacerbated through that ‘new job feeling’ whenever you go somewhere new. It can be quite draining to be so frequently having to introduce yourself or ask where things are.

Ways to avoid it:

  • Make sure to foster and maintain connections where and when you can. You can meet or communicate with a lot of people when freelancing, so remember to network and stay positive.
  • Think about joining professional associations and social media networks as well.

2.    Patchy Pay

Working freelance means not having a regular, stable salary, so while you may earn more per hour, you may find that there are leaner periods and a lot more budgeting and ‘watching the pennies’ than you first thought. Also, you won’t be likely to have sick or holiday pay either, which will need to be taken into consideration. And remember, you’ll have to go through the invoice process and wait for payments to clear.

Ways to avoid it:

  • Set yourself a strict budget and stick to it.
  • Try and save when you can, ready for the leaner months or any unexpected expenses or loss in income.
  • Work extra around the leaner months, and try and book holidays for those periods.
  • If you’re worried or find the money side stressful, it might be worth meeting with a financial advisor or seeking expert advice.

3.    Being your own Boss

As a freelance worker, you are in charge of all aspects of your job and there’s no one to pass any of the work or responsibility on to. All the decision making, all the accountability is yours.

You’re going to need to be on-the-ball, to process information quickly, and be able to react and find solutions to any issues quickly. You’re going to need to have or develop good communication and interpersonal skills, as a lot of freelance work is built from reputation and word-of-mouth, which also means remaining professional at all times. This also means that you must be self-motivated and disciplined.

Ways to avoid it:

  • Try and avoid distractions.
  • Make sure you ‘know your stuff’, or know where or who you can turn to to find out.

4.    Distractions

Distractions can be a picky issue when working for yourself because they are everywhere and come in many shapes and sizes. There’s your friends or family not taking your job seriously, seeing it as ‘just’ working from home, which can cause you to feel undervalued and lacking in support. It might also mean that you become their ‘go-to person’ whenever they want a chat, to go somewhere, to do something, etc. You may be working around children or find yourself distracted by housework or other tasks. If at home, there are TV, video games, and your phone/ social media ready and waiting to distract you at any moment.

Ways to avoid it:

  • Be really strict about your working hours and make sure you, your friends and your family respect them.
  • Turn off your phone, the TV, the washing machine, etc. if they’re going to distract you or cause disruptions.
  • Set up a workspace – somewhere you can get into the right mindset to work effectively.
  • Distinguish between work time and personal time. Making sure you have time to ‘switch off’ will help you ‘switch on’ and work more efficiently when you need to. Also, your personal time, interests and circles are important for your wellbeing.

5.    Lack of Structure

Due to the very flexible nature of freelance work, it can often mean that your day, week, month and so on lack any real shape. There are no set times for anything. Evening and weekend work may also be necessary. It can be easy to work very long days, especially if you have multiple or competing priorities and deadlines. Having busier and leaner times can also throw off your schedule.

Ways to avoid it:

  • Try and set up your own routine, keeping in mind how it might need to change through the week, month or year. This might mean setting aside a particular time of day for answering emails, scheduling meetings or making calls.
  • Don’t work every evening and every weekend as you need to make sure you still have your ‘me time’ and time off.
  • Plan or keep track of your schedule. There are all kinds of apps or planners out there that can help you keep track of your working hours, your schedule and routine, your deadlines, your to-do lists, etc. Remember to schedule a time for yourself too.

We hope this helps you put a plan of action in place to successfully navigate the move to freelance work.

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