PITFALLS OF REMOTE WORK: HOW CAN I BECOME A TOP FREELANCER AND AVOID FALLING INTO TRAPS?
Nowadays freelance has become a true embodiment of freedom- freedom of movement, work, daily routine and finances. With each passing day more and more specialists become freelancers and bid farewell to traditional office work. At the same time many companies are pleased to shift to working with remote workers and to the outsourcing of certain tasks and projects.
However, the majority of aspiring freelancers discover over time that remote work has its own pitfalls. How can I achieve success even without any experience or contacts, and how can I avoid falling into traps? We will attempt to analyse which pitfalls you can expect and how to avoid making errors on the path to your success.
All of us have undoubtedly faced such a problem, when prior to completing some important work there is a heap of minor, useless jobs things to do which distract us from completing our task and prevent us from focusing on what’s important. This is procrastination, i.e. the subconscious putting off of a difficult task, which requires a lot of mental or physical effort, “until later”.
There may at once be several reasons for such a phenomena:
- lack of confidence in your own abilities;
- fear of making a mistake;
- unclear or incomprehensible task;
- stress, constant tiredness;
- creative burnout;
- lack of self-control;
- simple laziness.
Forcing yourself to focus on a job is difficult, especially if you are at home where your environment simply is not conducive to work. However, it is possible- and necessary- to fight procrastination.
Below are some pieces of advice which will help you get to work and stop putting it off “until later”:
- The most difficult thing: starting. Try to complete your most important and difficult job first- at the very beginning of your working day. By occupying yourself with simple and easy jobs you risk not getting on with your main work and completing your most important task. Start with this task in particular, and then you can thank yourself that you have found the strength within you to complete a difficult job. It’s then necessary to recover your strength before moving forward.
- “Eat an elephant”. If your job is too difficult and requires a lot of time, take advantage of a simple but highly-effective method. Divide the large task- the “elephant”- into several simple and easy sub-tasks. Complete one small job, rest a little and get started on the next one. Thus step by step you will move forward, and finally “eat the elephant”, i.e. complete the large task.
- Come up with a timetable. If the reason behind your procrastination lies in the total absence of, or lack of full self-control, then come up with a detailed list of tasks with their deadlines clearly indicated. Try to stick to your work plan and if you complete 100% of your tasks, be sure to treat yourself to an “award”, for example a nice cup of aromatic coffee or a tasty dessert, a bike ride or a trip to the cinema. It is advisable that the future award be quite valuable to you, since only then will it become a powerful motivational factor for you.
Absence of clear rules
One of the biggest problems faced by remote workers is the distraction of communicating with their family and friends during the working day. If you are planning to work from home, establish clear rules for the people around you:
- Family members: if during your work from home family members come over (parents, spouse, children), establish clear boundaries for them. For example, you can ask them to knock before entering your room. Or you can tell them that during certain times of the day they should not disturb you unnecessarily. They should know that you are busy and cannot be distracted by other things when you are working.
- Friends: if you have close friends then you will soon enough notice that they think it is perfectly acceptable to come to visit simply because you are home at such and such a time. Forewarn them that you are working and will be able to devote time to seeing them only after finishing your work.
Furthermore, many aspiring freelancers distract even themselves on domestic chores. Of course, there’s nothing bad in washing up the dishes or taking out the rubbish during your break. However be careful that your household chores do not interfere with you being able to complete your work and do not lower your productivity.
Remember that domestic work and communicating with your family is not what will bring you profit.
Lack of clients
The lack of clients at the very beginning is nothing to worry or panic about. First of all use as many different channels as possible to attracting customers, including:
- Friends, relatives, former colleagues. Ask them to tell their acquaintances about your services or to provide you the contacts of people who may be interested in what you have to offer.
- Social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Talk about your services on your profile page, publish interesting thematic content and examples of your work and add new friends from your target audience. Social media websites offer excellent opportunities for searching for and interacting with clients.
- Freelance marketplaces (www.freelancer.co.uk, www.upwork.com, elance.com and others.). Create a profile and fully fill out your details, add your work experience and upload your portfolio. Be active and respond to all offers. After some time people will definitely notice you and will entrust you with important, well-paying orders.
Remember, that your main task is not finding a one-time client, but a long-term one.
Here are some pieces of advice which will help you to attract new clients, turn them into long-term ones and receive new orders for your work:
- Always answer messages and requests from clients, even if the answer seems obvious to you. In addition, try to answer as quickly as possible- let the client feel that you value his/her time.
- Don’t stop communicating. Many clients love knowing how the work on their project is coming along, so don’t forget to keep them up-to-date with your progress.
- Express your thoughts clearly and understandably. Specify all the details of the order so that you can complete your task as best as possible. Demonstrate to your client your responsible approach to your work and your commitment.
- Don’t be afraid of the telephone. Some contentious issues or unclear questions are preferable to solve over the telephone. Thus always be contactable and don’t be afraid to discuss something if necessary.
Problems with payment
Many freelancers run into a host of problems concerning payment from their clients. Nowadays the overwhelming majority of freelancers prefer to receive payments over the internet, however in this case they require payment services and exchangers. In these circumstances you often have to face high fees for exchanging electronic money or for withdrawing it as cash.
The second problem on the surface concerning receiving payments over the internet is the danger of your account being hacked or the theft of electronic money from your account by online fraudsters.
The ideal solution in this case is to use a secure, international system such as ePayments, for example. This service takes advantage of:
- secure data encryption with SSL encryption technology;
- a modern fraud-monitoring system to protect from fraud;
- two-factor authentication, which protects from unsanctioned access to your account, as well as other ways of defending our clients’ funds.
- quick and secure money transfers;
- a branded bank card, with which you can pay for goods and services, as well as withdraw cash at any ATM;
- the ability to open an electronic wallet (e-Wallet) in three currencies (rouble, dollar and euro).
Remember that money loves peace and quiet. Be ahead of the game in seeing to the security of your funds. Use a secure payment system for settlements with your clients, which will allow you to make instant transfers at competitive rates.
The pitfalls described here give an indication of what awaits freelancers at the very beginning of their independent work. Following these recommendations will help you to avoid making errors and will prevent you falling into traps on your path to great success.