The Freelancer's Trap

Becoming a freelancer is a huge step for many people.

You're going to spend lots of your time and attention doing clients' work, making art, and solving interesting problems.

In the beginning, it's thrilling. You're doing what you love. You might even be making a living at it.

Not to mention the freedom of being your own boss, doing whatever you want.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

Well, all too often, the promise of freedoms fades away very quickly.

Sooner or later, you'll realize that you can't get out of it.

You will need to do clients' work to survive, and you'll spend most of your time doing it.

It will start feeling like a job, and all the best parts of freelancing will slowly sink into obscurity.

The only difference is, this time, you'll have multiple bosses to report to A.K.A your clients.

If you think your former boss at your previous company was a nightmare, you haven't met your bad clients.

While they're not as demanding, they'll still want you to turn in a great piece of work.

They will pay a decent amount of money, and they expect you to deliver good quality, timely work.

At this point, you'll start to feel trapped.

The fun and excitement of being a freelancer seem like a distant dream.

Yes, you're still making good money. However, the hours are long, and the quality of your work and life have suffered.

Your workload is constantly increasing, your clients are all demanding more and more work from you.

It's starting to feel like a prison sentence.

And the worst part is, it's sometimes so subtle and gradual, you don't realize it's happening until you're stuck in the middle of it.

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Escape The Freelance Trap!

So how do you escape the freelance trap?

After all, it's not like you can just quit and do something else.

You have contracts and obligations to your clients. You can't just leave them hanging.

Right?

Plus, if you don't work, that would create serious financial difficulties.

This is very true for many freelancers.

Myself included.

To get out of this trap, you need to stop viewing freelancing as a trap in the first place.

You need to change your mindset from being someone who chases the "glorified" freelancing lifestyle to someone who adapts to it.

Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by adapting to it.

You're still going to do projects for clients, but you're going to find ways to challenge yourself outside of that.

That includes how to be more productive as well as focusing on other aspects of your life.

Of course, you'll still need money to pay the bills and support yourself while you focus on other things.

So, you'll have to keep doing clients' work, but you can manage it more healthily.

It's not easy, but it's possible.

Here are some ways that I've adapted to the freelance lifestyle:

1) Set the maximum amount of projects you will take on at one time

Regardless of how well things are going, try to limit how many projects you take on at one time.

I know it's tempting to take on more work when you're feeling excited and inspired.

However, this is usually not a good long-term strategy.

If you're constantly juggling multiple clients, you're going to get sick of each one eventually.

Moreover, you'll end up not doing the most crucial work on each project.

You'll start putting less time, effort, and care into your clients' projects.

This will lead to more clients being unhappy with your work, which will make things worse.

Therefore, know how many projects you can take on at one time.

Pare your down as much as possible, and eventually, you'll learn what your ideal maximum is.

Then, try to stick to that number.

If you start feeling too many projects on your plate, drop some of them.

You don't have to work for everyone, and you'll have a more positive experience if you don't.

Personally, I like to work on only two projects at a time.

Not only does that number allow me to achieve maximum efficiency, but it also allows me to be really productive.

I always feel like I'm doing my best work when I'm not constantly juggling multiple projects.

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2) Work with high-value clients only

This is very true for most freelancers.

These clients are very passionate about your work, they give you the respect you deserve, and they usually pay you more than other clients.

They also realize what you do is vital to them.

When you work with high-value clients, you know you'll be taken care of, and you can give them your 100% attention.

You're also less likely to get sick of them.

It's like you're working with your best friends and having fun while doing it.

"Having fun" is the keyword.

When you have fun working with clients, you'll have more motivation to do your best work; and you won't feel like a slave.

It will feel like an equal relationship, and your work will really shine as a result.

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3) Use your spare time to focus on other areas of your life

Freelancing is not just about working for clients.

You need to have a life too. You need to take care of yourself and do the things that make you happy outside of work.

When you minimize the number of projects you take on and focus on high-value clients only, you'll find yourselves having more free time.

You can spend this time working on different parts of your life.

For example, you could research a new language or improve your writing skills and work on other side projects that interest you.

Try to make it a habit to do something personally meaningful to you once or twice a week, or at least once every two weeks.

This is important.

It's also a great way to stay creative.

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4) Stop caring about how much money you make

As long as you're being paid what you deserve, it's okay if you're not making a lot of money.

Don't get me wrong, I love money.

However, I know that it's not the most important thing in life.

The bane of most freelancers' existence is the fact that they care too much about money.

There's a difference between being passionate about something and caring too much.

If money is your only objective, you've lost sight of why you do what you do.

As a freelancer, your income is directly affected by your output.

If you only focus on what makes money, you'll start taking shortcuts, and the quality of your work will suffer as well.

It's a trap because you'll be so focused on the money that you won't be able to enjoy what you do.

It's a lot of fun doing freelance work, but it's also challenging and sometimes tricky.

So, don't focus on the money you make. And instead, focus on what you do.

You need to do work that you love.

If you love what you do, you'll have more energy to do higher-quality work.

And as a result, you'll make more money in the long run.

So just ignore how much money you're making. Do whatever it takes to sustain yourselves and keep doing great work.

Once you start doing great work, you'll naturally begin to attract better opportunities. These opportunities will lead you to a better quality of life.

So stop worrying about how much money you make.

Instead, enjoy what you do and get your work done as well as possible.

It's that simple.