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10 Great Reasons NOT to become a freelance web designer

Contrary to my previous blog post, I can also think of a million reasons for you to NOT become a freelance web designer. Some people are fantastic designers or developers, but just cannot manage the business side of things. These are 10 reasons why being a freelancer may not suit you.

1. You work your own hours
Also number one in my previous article. Working your own hours can be a nightmare if you don’t have solid time management. I have friends who have tried to go freelance and find themselves watching Jeremy Kyle all day, and working all night. It destroys your work/life balance and it makes it really tough to manage your clients, because you are asleep when they want to talk to you. If you can’t manage your time effectively, then it isn’t for you.

2. You aren’t a people person
If you can’t deal with people on a day to day basis, and put your ‘no problem, I can fix that for you’ head on, then you shouldn’t be a freelance web designer. You need to be able to multi-task. You are not only a web designer, you are an account manager and hand-holder too – you need to be prepared for that.

3. You struggle to hit deadlines
If you need a firm hand to make sure you hit those deadlines, then don’t even think about freelancing. You have to be very strict and disciplined to ensure you hit your deadlines. Clients are depending on you, so by going over your agreed timings, you are hurting your clients. You have to know how long work will take you and you have to agree to sensible deadlines, and then hit them every time!

4. You can’t say no
When you first start out, you want to say YES to everything, but as you grow and evolve as a freelancer, you’ll find that not every job is right for you. The first thing you need to learn is the word NO. I say no to about 50% of job requests, mainly because I feel that the client hasn’t fully thought through their project and I know from lots of experience, that it’s likely to be a mess. There are always reasons to say no to a project, and by learning to politely decline work, you will end up only working on stuff you really enjoy.

5. You can’t say yes
It’s a trap I have seen lots of freelancers fall into, they get very set in their ways and then find that they can’t ever accept a job if the client needs something outside of their comfort zone. Contrary to point number four, you sometimes need to say yes to a project that you may not have wanted to accept, but you know it will lead to bigger and better things. Maybe it’ll enhance your skills in an area that you are lacking. Or perhaps it is a slow month, so the job is a necessity. You sometimes need to learn to say yes.

6. You are a perfectionist
I’m serious. You cannot be a 100% perfectionist if you work for yourself. Sometimes you have to know when enough is enough. I have seen countless freelance web designers go over their deadlines because they were trying to create something that was perfect; when in fact, something good would have happily sufficed. Now, I am a bit of a perfectionist myself, and I have to really train myself to let go and be open with my clients. If something perfects takes me 5 days to build, and something great takes me 2 days – usually, the client will be happier saving 3 days’ budget. Think about it.

7. The money can be pretty bad
Sometimes you’ll find yourself with no work, or at least very little, so the month can be extremely lean. If you aren’t financially savvy and you don’t save for rainy days, you’ll find yourself bankrupt in no time at all. You have to plan for lean months and always assume that you may have a dry spell. Always have backups and contingencies in place.

8. You never know if you’ll be paid
Contracts are a great way to protect yourself, but honestly, sometimes they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. I had an agency who went into liquidation just after I completed a pretty hefty job. They left me on the brink of closure, as I’d worked solidly for 1 month for them, and my payment was put into the hands of the receivers. I never did get paid, so that was 1 months worth of work for nothing. It goes back to point seven, you have to have a contingency and a rainy day fund in place.

9. You don’t always get to do what you want
Sometimes you’ll have clients who just HAVE to have a bright green paired with vibrant pink and luminous green. And sometimes, you can’t do anything about it. If you are the type of person who is too precious about your work – every now and then, you’ll want to cry. This does have roots in number four, learn to say no. When you can tell a client is going to be too overbearing, you can sometimes say no. Other times, you can be firm and explain that it would hurt your professional integrity. But if you want the work, sometimes you have to go with what the client wants, even if it is wrong.

10. It’s a lonely ol’ life!
Sometimes the monotony of working from home, alone, can be quite dull and boring. If you can’t stand your own company, or can’t concentrate without that ‘office buzz’, then this isn’t the life for you. You need to be in an office environment, working with like minded web designers.