In the past few years, the freelancing landscape has undergone significant changes. According to Upwork’s most recent ‘Freelancing in America’ study, 57 million Americans took freelancing work in 2019. That figure represents a 35 percent increase in the percentage of the workforce choosing non-traditional employment and is 4 million more freelancers than in 2014’s inaugural study.
Additionally, it seems younger generations are embracing freelancing with enthusiasm. The survey showed 53 percent of Gen Zers freelanced, the highest independent workforce participation of any generational bracket.
Figures like this suggest freelancing is here to stay. But it’s not all about the borderless lifestyle and the freedom to manage one’s own time, full-time freelancing involves numerous challenges.
Below are three key issues freelancers face and the essential tools they need to combat the challenges head-on.
The challenge: Time management
While some freelancers find it easy to get started with tasks and stay on track, others may struggle without the structure of an office environment. Managing time properly is one key way remote workers can structure their days and ensure productivity.
The solution: Timekeeping software
Tools such as Clockify, a free timekeeping program, mean freelancers can accurately track every minute of their work. Timesheets can be exported to send to clients and help make sure bills are accurate.
The challenge: Cybersecurity
Depending on their role, many freelancers have access to a client’s private data and their customers’ data, including financial information. The onus is always on the freelancer to protect this data and make sure it’s safe from prying eyes and would-be hackers.
The solution: VPN encryption
One of the best ways for freelancers to combat cyberthreats is by using a VPN to encrypt their traffic. VPN technology means data transmissions are encrypted. And, as an additional bonus, it makes working on unsecured, public wifi connections safe.
The challenge: Job security
Savvy freelancers know that the freelancing adage “you’re only as good as your last client” holds true. So they put plenty of effort into maintaining ongoing working relationships while simultaneously always looking for their next client.
Unfortunately, clients can disappear with little to no notice, leaving freelancers in the financial lurch if they haven’t secured enough ongoing work.
The solution: Forward-thinking strategies
To combat the dreaded feast or famine months, freelancers need to turn to a different type of tool: their own minds. Developing a forward-thinking mindset and strategies that result in financial and work security takes a lot of the pressure off. Communication skills should be put to good use asking current clients to estimate their workload for the upcoming months.
When it looks like work could be lean, freelancers should spend at least an hour every day actively seeking new opportunities. In particular, those working in the gig economy should subscribe to emails that list available jobs in their field and keep an eye on all the sites where they have found quality work in the past.
Being a successful freelancer is about dedication and an understanding that as a worker, you are your own business and boss. Investing in smart strategies and using the right tools can help get you there.