What's the hardest aspect of working for yourself?

6 years ago from , designer, writer

Whether your starting our or a seasoned freelancer - where do things go wrong? Need work? Get you frustrated?

For myself (I've been a freelancer for 16+ years): getting clients to deliver what I need to make their project happen on time. I've tried ultimatums, I outline this in proposals and getting started packages and on calls. They pay on time, they just don't get me what I need to do the work on time (since I'm a web designer, I typically need: content, photography, brand information, etc).

What about you?


  • Adam MartinAdam Martin, 6 years ago

    For me the hardest aspect having freelanced full-time for 8/10 years of my career is determining when and how to raise prices for long-time clients — the ones you have a strong relationship with from a personal perspective. It's easy to raise rates on the new clients but in a sense it gets easy to feel like you owe loyalty to those that have been there since the beginning. Unfortunately, expenses change, families grow, etc., so it is inevitable.

    I also find it tough to turn off. For example, checking emails and doing work while on vacation. In the world of independent services, if you aren't working, you aren't making money as we all know.

    7 points
    • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, 6 years ago

      I totally feel you on the prices thing. I had the same issue recently, and my new price was like 30% higher so I felt bad. But once there was a new project, I told them "I just wanted to let you know my rate has increased to X with other clients so I will have to charge you the same from here on out."

      His response? "Ok."

      and it's been 2 months since then.

      I think there are 2 lessons I learned from that.

      1. I was most likely under-pricing myself. He valued me a lot and the new price is even lower than his value of me.

      2. Don't be afraid to ask. If you speak kindly, you will get a kind response.

      2 points
  • Derryl CarterDerryl Carter, almost 6 years ago

    For me it was staying focused. I have a tendency to work on what I want to, unless given concrete instructions otherwise. I found myself spending too much time on the cool, experimental aspects of a project -- losing sight of the overall deliverable.

    Frankly, I've found I prefer working at companies. I was a little too ADD to work for myself :)

    Also, all the typical stuff people talk about: finding good clients, coping with uncooperative ones, and managing administrative overhead. Those things introduce a lot of stress into the business, and not everyone is able to master them (myself included).

    3 points
  • pjotr .pjotr ., almost 6 years ago


    3 points
  • Tori ZTori Z, almost 6 years ago

    I'm a student designer. I'm frustrated when clients don't trust me enough... Because I barely have work experience. Because I'm so young.

    2 points
  • Darth BaneDarth Bane, almost 6 years ago

    The hardest problem for me is trying to convince clients that doing it my way will result in the best possible end result. I always end up having to argue that:

    1. 99% of all design decisions are not based on opinion/taste, but rather rooted in data-driven tests and following best practices in the industry.

    2. Carousels are dumb.

    1 point
  • Lior FrenkelLior Frenkel, 6 years ago

    For me, it used to be prioritizing my tasks, so I don't waste my day procrastinating... There's much more to do other than the professional work - there's all that clients-money-sh*t... Now I'm using the important/urgent table. A good friend of mine has written a great post about it: http://thenuschool.com/how-to-manage-yourself/

    1 point
  • Victor WareVictor Ware, almost 6 years ago

    I've been freelancing for a couple of years now. Finding quality clients is my biggest hurdle at the moment.

    1 point
  • Wade MullerWade Muller, almost 6 years ago

    I have the exact same problem. I work in a different industry and Architects never give me what I need. I try to explain the more prepared they are the cheaper the bill, but to no avail.

    Just charge them a hold rate, while you wait. Doesn't have to be your full rate.

    I also take on multiple projects at once so I am busy but that sometimes can lead to pinches.

    1 point
  • Sindri AvaruusSindri Avaruus, almost 6 years ago

    Constant sexual assaults from my boss.

    0 points
  • Sean GeraghtySean Geraghty, almost 6 years ago

    For me the hardest aspect is juggling University, work and having fun. I try an do freelance work on the side whilst at university but I sometimes get too sucked into the fact that university is there for more than just working its also the best time of your life so I possibly spend too much time enjoying myself and not enough time working. I know that some of you may disagree and say you can never spend enough time having fun, well not at my age anyway (I'm 20) but I think this is possibly the most important part of my career, I am in the last year of my degree now and when I come out I will need to start working properly, not only to pay off my vast student debt but also to have some sense of fulfilment and too feel like my three years of degree work was worth it. So yeah finding time to work on freelance projects is hard and I seemingly find everything distracting.

    0 points
  • Luchia BloomfieldLuchia Bloomfield, almost 6 years ago

    It's interesting reading the things that different people struggle with. For me, because I have two excellent long-term clients, I'm never in a pinch for content, money or work. But I do struggle with staying inspired and continued improvement, because I'm young (22yo) and working from home. I don't get a lot of direction and sometimes I think it would be nice to have a more senior designer over me making sure I'm heading in the right direction or solving the problem correctly.

    This is probably the only downside to working remotely... That and my 2am meetings because my clients are in the US.

    0 points
  • Devin HalladayDevin Halladay, almost 6 years ago

    The hardest thing for me (besides finding good clients) is managing the business side of things. It takes a ton of time and energy, leaving little time for me to actually design.

    0 points
  • Nick TogaNick Toga, almost 6 years ago

    You will ultimately have as many 'bosses' as you have clients, like it or not. You will probably have to adjust to a variety of working relationships etc.

    Ideally you would have a set schedule, workflow, or general pattern that you can follow and repeat with success, but some clients just don't get it, or don't listen -- and you can't always fire them.

    0 points