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Why Freelancing Creates Anxiety + 4 Ways to Overcome It

Freelancing Sep 6, 2022

Freelancing is becoming more common over time due to shifting technology trends that have made this type of work feasible for millions around the globe.

Starting a career as a freelance has been an increasingly popular choice for many people, with the opportunity to earn money from just about anywhere.

However, it’s not without its pitfalls! Freelancers are often anxious when starting out because they don't know how successful they will be in their new profession and what hurdles may come up along the way.

Employee working from home in front of his desktop

Freelancing is a fascinating world with many benefits, but it also comes at the cost of high levels of anxiety.

How can freelancers prevent this? Here are four ways to do so!

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Financial Instability or Uncertainty

The allure of being your own boss is strong, but freelancing comes with the near certainty that you will have to work hard at building a client flow.

The article in Motley Fool highlights some key considerations for those considering going freelance - namely that there are both pros and cons associated with this career choice.

There are always going to be clients that leave you, and it’s important not to take this as a personal attack. Sometimes they face financial difficulties themselves or don't have the funds for your services any longer.

Though losing new customers can put stress on finances in terms of revenue stability, there is nothing malicious about these departures from time to time.

Freelancers need a careful strategy for balancing client loads; taking on more than you're capable of may seem like it'll work out in the end because there's always someone who wants help with something, but if that person suddenly ends things or doesn't want any more assistance then freelancing just became very hard for everyone involved.

When you first start freelancing, it's all about the drive for financial stability. But as time goes on and your workload increases, maintaining a steady cash flow can become one of the most stressful aspects of working from home.

Taking Too Many Roles

As a freelancer, you are going to need to take care of some things that most salaried workers would not have the time for. You will be your own personal assistant and accountant as well as a strategist if you don't hire out these responsibilities.

Freelancing can be a lot more complicated than many people realize, especially when it comes to balancing your client’s work with everything else that goes on in the background.

As a freelancer, you are responsible for many things. You're in charge of managing the daily workings to get things done. You have to track and manage cash flow, pay contractors you hire, create and send invoices, communicate with clients, schedule your work plan ahead and get things done!

Your professional tone should be present throughout every task and thing that needs to get done, no matter how big or small.

Dividing Your Time

There are many freelancers all over the world that share a common problem: It's hard to separate work from your daily life when you're working remotely from an outside space that is not dedicated as just a workspace.

So let me ask you, how often do we find ourselves trying endlessly and unsuccessfully at quitting time?

You may even go so far as locking yourself out of Facebook or shutting down your computer before realizing one more document needs finishing up! With today’s hectic schedules balancing both personal responsibilities with professional obligations on top.

Sometimes finding the balance between those two worlds can be difficult (or impossible).

The ambiguous space between your work and home can be difficult to determine. Without clear differences in your home and workspace, it's difficult to get away from work mentally.

Recognizing Imposter Syndrome

Freelancers have a lot of first days at work because they are constantly facing new projects with new clients. It is often hard for freelancers to feel up to the job all the time, especially when working by themselves or collaborating with already established teams and businesses.

At any moment, you might feel like a fraud. You'll rethink your skills and work ethic with uncertainty - wondering if people are just putting up with you because they're not aware of the truth about who's really in charge.

This is called imposter syndrome: an irrational belief that you don't deserve credit for what others see as success on your part; even when it results from years of hard work.

You may start to find yourself second-guessing everything so much that it overwhelms every other thought or feeling taking place at the time or saps motivation needed for progress towards long term goals and objectives

4 Ways to Overcome Freelancing Anxieties

It's no secret that freelancing can be tough.

Freelancers are often faced with anxieties and worries on a regular basis. Whether it is the fear of being unable to find work or finding adequate housing when you're living abroad, these common thoughts keep many freelancers up at night.

But no matter how you feel about your freelancer life - there are ways for it to get better! Here's some advice that can help:

1. Finding Your Sweet Spot

If you're freelancing, it can be hard to find the right balance between professional and workaholic.

With dedicated working hours as well as solid expectations in place for employees of companies, many don't know how or when they should take time off from doing what they love most: their job.

By setting boundaries on your own pace with an eye toward good income without overworking yourself into burnout, however, developing that sustainable pace becomes much easier - whether you are just getting started out alone or have been at this gig for years!

You can create a more balanced approach to freelance work by doing the following:

  1. Writing things down

You know what they say: "If you fail to plan, then you're planning to fail."

One of the easiest ways for freelancers is simply by writing down everything. Your thoughts on every project and client should be in a notebook or planner where it can't escape.

It's important that this habit sticks because after a while all these little details will become more than just numbers; they'll start telling stories about how much work has come from certain clients which may not seem worth continuing with if things don't turn around soon enough.

You might be tired and overworked, but anything you can do to relieve your mental load will help make sure that your working pace is more sustainable.

2. Know your limits

Becoming your own workaholic is never very rewarding. It's important to know when enough really is enough and not push yourself too hard in the process.

It can be tempting to take on more projects than you have time for because they feel like quick cash but doing so will only cause problems and stress down the line if not done well.

As a freelancer with limited resources (time) who is trying their best to keep up with work-related responsibilities such as finding new clients or managing an existing client while working at home, we know how easy it might seem that taking on too many obligations could lead us into some potentially sticky situations where our deadlines are pushed back even further--especially when there aren’t enough hours left in the day.

It’s when we push ourselves beyond our means that it can become dangerous to the health of both our mental and physical faculties. Understanding what's sustainable for us, will allow us to accomplish more than if we were merely winging it or guessing how much work was too much for one person in any given day.

It's important for people who are overworked to find ways to balance themselves out so they don't burn out completely.

3. Plan a vacation

It’s important to take time for yourself, even if you are a go-getter at work. You need breaks in order to avoid burnout and have the energy you want for your projects; so make sure that vacations are part of your plan from day 1.

If there are any bumps along the way with managing both responsibilities, especially when it comes down to scheduling or communicating them - letting others know ahead of time will help keep things on track.

The time before your vacation is the perfect opportunity to get everything in order. Working just an hour or two more before leaving for vacations and only checking email once every couple of days instead of daily.

This way when you return from vacation mode, it will feel like starting over again rather than picking up where you left off with tons of unfinished tasks.

4. Treat it like a job

Freelancing is a job, and it’s still just as important to treat it like one. Freelancers might have another full-time or part-time gig on the side but that doesn't mean you can slack off at your freelance work! You're working for someone else too -- so be professional about what they need.

Like any other important task or goal of yours, it's a big deal when you're reliable and deliver on time. However, make sure that personal feelings don’t get involved so much—that way the decisions about which projects you'll handle can be better-informed ones without emotion interfering too much.

When looking at any decision or project, try to remove yourself from the equation so that better decisions can be made around what needs to be done with each client and how they will move forward after their session.

If there are tasks or aspects of the job that can be outsourced then do them! Use your time wisely by setting working hours and having a dedicated workspace planned out days/weeks in advance.

No matter what though remember not to neglect other parts of life.

2. Putting Your Systems on Auto-Pilot

Is there any part of your job where you can't do the whole thing alone? It is a good idea to automate anything that you have the ability to.

Nearly any task can be automated with some tinkering. If there’s a way to automate an otherwise time-consuming or mundane process, you can allow yourself more time to focus on other important tasks.

The more tasks you automate, the more time you’ll have to devote to complicated tasks that can’t be handled by automatic programs.

Some of the tasks that can usually be automated are:

·         Booking appointments

·         Creating proposals

·         Recurrent billing & invoicing

·         Task management

·         Tracking expenses

·         Generating leads

·         Website content

·         Sending reminders

·         File backups

·         Email marketing

·         Cold outreach

·         Social media posts

If you're able to automate a task without compromising your quality of work, do it! Spend more time on tasks that offer the highest return.

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3. Developing a plan for your finances

When it comes to automation, many of the money-related tasks a freelancer commits to can be automated for saving time.

Successful freelancers are successful at financial management. It is best to have a plan for how you will manage your income and expenses so that you can be in the position to make decisions and grow as a business.

A glass showing coins and a plant

The main financial items you need to keep tabs on are:

·         Earnings

·         Expenses

·         Client balances

This information will help you better track your business's growth, pay future taxes when needed, and respond to late payments.

Freelancers who want to more easily manage finances will find that inexpensive accounting software is a great choice, usually costing less than $30 per month. They provide the opportunity for freelancers working alone or in small teams to have all of their financial data at their fingertips.

  • Billdu
  • Wave
  • Quickbooks
  • FreeAgent
  • Zoho Books
  • Freshbooks
  • Xero
  • SlickPie
  • ZipBooks
  • AND CO

All of these options have free or low-cost pricing tiers that are valuable to freelancers and small teams. They can all manage expense tracking, invoice monitoring, and income information.

Starting out on a new financial management service can be time-consuming, but thankfully there are resources available to help you get started.

Creating a budget or investing in personal finance management software can be beneficial for understanding your assets.

4. Don’t take yourself for granted

Even if you've addressed all the other items on this list, there is still one thing that might be preventing you from feeling like a skilled professional: Imposter Syndrome.

Ever since you became a freelancer, it can be difficult to think of this as your main profession. You might even behave like it's something that you pursue on the side.

It is not uncommon for freelancers to be seen as less of a professional, or people might think of them as only having a side-hustle or getting into the field on their own time.

This is a misconception.

As of 2019, freelancers account for 35% of the American workforce. A significant percentage of these freelancers view freelancing as a long-term career: 28% work freelance full-time and 60% are doing it by choice rather than out of necessity.

Lots of people are freelancing these days, and it’s no longer a side gig you take on while looking for work. It’s more like a full-time career for lots of people around the world. If you want to be taken seriously at your job, maybe it's finally time to start taking yourself seriously as well!

It is important to examine your weaknesses in order to find ways of overcoming them. There are three things that you can do to help validate your career path, which is as follows:

A. Set a price that reflects your value

Freelancers are notorious for offering their services at lower rates than industry standards. The cost of freelancing is underpriced for most employers.

Don’t be lured by the false economy of low wages from other freelancers.

Determine what your work is worth and charge for it. New freelancers often have a difficult time figuring out the rates to set for themselves, but it’s important to research common industry averages and compare them with your proposed rates until you find an appropriate level that will attract customers.

But in order to get paid fairly, you need to come up with concrete numbers that accurately represent what your skills are worth.

If you charge a below-average wage for your first few jobs, it is difficult to increase your rates in the future. While this may make you feel more comfortable with the money coming in from day one, don’t put off charging above market rate down the line.

Evaluate your time. Figure out how to make money working a more reasonable schedule so you can charge rates that allow for "normal work hours."

Set yourself up for success by charging a rate that allows you to work on a normal schedule. If your current pay is just enough to meet expenses and not more, it may be time to start asking for higher rates.

In order to avoid wasting time, you may need to judge prospective clients. You don’t have to work for every client that comes your way. If someone isn't willing to pay at or very close to your rate, you can decline the project without consequences. Only take on projects from clients who are offering a substantial return on your investment.

Some clients may not be willing to pay your rates. If a client doesn’t want to offer something substantial for your work, you can choose not to accept the project. Keep in mind that exposure isn't worth much!

An employee working from home in front of her desktop

B. Stay on a Routine

We’ve already discussed working hours, but it’s worth pointing out that a workday routine should be more comprehensive than just deciding your hours

If you want to take your freelancing work seriously, act like it's any other paying job. Show up at your computer in the morning dressed and ready to go, use a home office space or coworking station where you can focus on your work without distractions.

Set a goal for yourself that you’re not available during regular office hours. If flexibility is the reason you started freelancing, make exceptions as needed to create a feasible schedule for your workload.

The reason to impose a schedule is to help you feel like what you are doing with your time is "work" rather than simply an activity. The goal is to create a routine that will help you feel like you are not just working during gigs. Creating routines enhances your focus and learning ability while working and can be helpful in calming your mind and making everyday tasks seem more manageable.

C. Changing the way you talk about your job could make it more satisfying

This is a small but important part of building your self-esteem. It's important to find a way to talk about your job that you are proud of and that makes you feel good, whether it's through colleagues or friends.

Discussing your work in a way that makes it sound unimportant or temporary can be detrimental to both you and others. When you talk about your work as if it doesn’t matter, you give yourself and others the impression that you aren’t taking enough pride in what you do.

Instead of avoiding the topic, talk about your work with confidence. It’s important to present a professional persona no matter what you do for work. If you are a freelance copywriter, tell people that you are a copywriter; if you translate one language into another, tell them that it is your job to translate; and so on.

Assessing your job title can help you feel more confident about yourself and provide the opportunity to market yourself to others. By modifying your job title to sound more professional, you will mentally reaffirm the value of what you do and project that assurance to outsiders.

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Final words

It is possible to be successful and happy as a freelancer. Allow your work to thrive, focus on the important items, and don't allow it to consume all of your time.

When you're a freelance worker, career anxiety doesn't need to be the new norm. You'll improve your efficiency and find a good work pace when you stop letting your job take up all of your time as well. It'll seem daunting now, but once you identify the sources of your anxiety and learn how to overcome them, things will get easier


About the Contributor

Veselin Mladenov is the Content Manager of ThriveMyWay. He has more than 10 years of experience in the field of corporate marketing and sales, and decided to pursue his passion - digital marketing and content creation.

LinkedIn: Veselin Mladenov

Twitter: @VeselinMladeno6

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Zoi Kotsou

Copywriter - Content writer - Content Strategist

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