In the past few years, freelancer has become a buzzword. With the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become, at best, a necessity for most. Freelancing comes with a sense of freedom. Later, a sense of despair sets in as you experience the difficulties. Earnings go down, you start losing clients, and you have to do something fast. The first thing you need to do is identify your main challenges and get the right tools to become a more efficient freelancer.
- Time management
Let us face it; most of us hate the employment part where you are accountable to someone else every minute. From nine to five, you are on someone else’s time and getting paid less than you deserve. Most people look forward to self-employment, and in theory, it sounds easy. As a freelancer, time management becomes a game-changer since you work with given timelines.
Employees have rules that govern how their day pans out. They have to clock in and out at appointed times and document any overtime worked. As a freelancer, you are thrust into a system with no structure. You can wake up at any time and it is your prerogative how many breaks you take.
What this does for you is to push you into confusion. You end up putting off work or taking on more projects than you can manage. Social media is another distraction, and you find yourself spending too much time on Facebook or Instagram.
- Cyber threats
Online freelancers face a lot of cyber threats while working online. As a software developer or writer, you spend a lot of your time online, and you have to be extra vigilant. Cyber threats such as ransomware, phishing, and others make up most of the significant freelancer challenges. Ransomware involves the hijacking or encrypting of your device or data by malicious actors. They then demand a ransom in Bitcoin in exchange for a decryption key.
Phishing consists of using malicious emails to dupe the victims into thinking they are in communication with legitimate sources. An email from a bank may trick you into clicking on a link within the email or downloading an attachment. The link redirects you into a fake website that prompts you for your username and password, which are then used to compromise your accounts, both financial and otherwise.
One of the biggest fears for any freelancer is instability. When employed, the one thing you enjoy the most is the stability that comes with a paycheck. Once you quit and take the leap of faith into freelancing, you might land a client or two, but without the cushion of a salary, you discover you need to earn more money to break even.
Going from a steady job with paid off days and benefits, to a freelancer with a sporadic income, zero off days, and no benefits can be quite scary. Knowing how to budget for the month can be an asset when income is sporadic, but it’s hard to account for everything. The threat of instability makes most freelancers stick to their day jobs, especially when they have families to feed and mortgages to pay.
Freelancer tools to make your life easier
The beauty of freelancing is that you are only as broke as you want to be. There are hundreds of tools in the market to help you overcome these challenges and make you a better and more organized freelancer. Here are some of the tools you can use:
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool every freelancer must-have. The function of a VPN is to encrypt users’ data in a secure tunnel. As a freelancer, sometimes you work on the go, in airport lounges, coffee shops, or anywhere there is free Wi-Fi, making you a hacker’s target.
The danger about connecting to free or unsecured networks is threats such as Man-in-the-middle attacks (MitM). In this attack, a hacker intercepts communication on both ends, duping the sender and receiver into thinking they are each talking to the other. A VPN hides your online traffic and data, allowing you to stay secure and protected from attacks.
Toggl is a lifesaving tool for people who are poor time managers. It is a free time tracker for at least five people and works well for a one-person team to large teams that pay upwards of $10 every month. You can track your time with one click on various devices or with different integrations.
Reports can be tedious, and if you need to create an attractive report, indicating to your clients how you spent the time you are billing them for, Toggl is the perfect app. You can also keep tabs on tasks that take up most of your time and track your day-to-day activities on different platforms. Toggle provides you with opportunities and insights for work optimization by indicating the areas you need to improve.
Clockify is also a time management app that works excellently for a freelancer who bills clients hourly. You can track your time via mobile, extension, or via a browser on your laptop or desktop. The app allows freelancers to:
a) Track time using a one-time click timer
b) Manually add any hours not billed for
c) Integrate with other applications
Your income as a freelancer depends on your client proposal flow. The manual drafting of documents is tedious work that takes up a lot of time each week. Proposify allows you to cut the work in more than half by allowing you the freedom to create and modify your client proposal templates. You can generate a new proposal with ease since the app automates the process.
Evernote is a helpful productivity tool for writing notes for pending projects. The Evernote app allows you to keep tabs on and manage all your ongoing projects. The app also takes notes and makes it possible for you to create schedules and make to-do lists. Evernote is both smartphone and web-based, enabling it to track all the checklists you make. Evernote is a free app, but if you need additional features, you can pay for them. The other features help in:
- Creating your to-do-lists
- Plan any events you have such as holidays or weddings
- Set reminders
- Creates journals, memos, or notebooks via its notepad
Also read – How to get long term freelancing clients
Being a freelancer is liberating, yet it can be the worst time of your financial life. If you are not careful, it is easy to spiral out of control and find yourself in debt because you cannot make ends meet. Sometimes it is easier than we think it is, and we overlook some bad habits we have formed because we have too much freedom.
Spending hours on social media and sleeping when you have pending projects are just some of the challenges you can overcome using productivity and time management tools. Freelancing can make your financial dreams come true, or it can be your worst nightmare, depending on how you handle the situation.