Red Flag Moments when Working as a Freelancer
Working as a freelancer has lots of advantages. You can work the hours that suit you best, take time off at the drop of a hat, and work in an industry you love. You are answerable to nobody and if you don’t want to do a job because it doesn’t align with your beliefs or schedule, you don’t have to. However, working as a freelancer is not without its perils. For one thing, you don’t have a guaranteed income, sick pay or holiday pay. You are also responsible for sorting out your own tax bill. But these are relatively trivial issues compared to some of the potential problems you may experience as a freelancer. Read on for a few red flag warning signs.
Clients who seem picky at the first conversation usually turn into nightmare clients for whom nothing is ever right. These people demand endless revisions (for free) and plague you 24/7. Don’t even go there.
If it Sounds Too Good to be True…
It probably is! Working as a freelancer means you have to go looking for work. In time, work might come looking for you, but until you have a long list of steady clients, the onus is on you to find new jobs.
You can do this a variety of ways. Freelancer websites are a popular way of finding new work, or you can advertise your services on forums or via your own website. However you do it, one thing to be careful of is when a potential new job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of clients who advertise a job and when you talk to them something seems a bit “off”. If you haven’t worked with them before, it is customary to suggest a trial, say a small project. This is a chance to see if you can work together, to make sure you are both happy with the contract terms. If the client is vague about the job or isn’t asking the right questions, be suspicious. Sometimes, their only aim is to gain your trust so they can send you files containing viruses, which gives them access to your computer so they can hack into any online accounts you have. If this sounds far-fetched and paranoid, believe me it isn’t – this type of thing really does happen!
Freelancer websites have systems in place to protect you and the client. Sites like Upwork operate escrow payment systems. Once you agree to be paid outside the Escrow system, you don’t have a leg to stand on if the client refuses to pay for the work you sent him. Beware of new clients who ask you to do a project and refuse make any payment up front. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for full or part payment up front with a new client. That way, if the client takes the work and disappears, you haven’t lost out. Listen to your gut.
Never agree to working for a new client without some guarantees in place, and listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is.