4 Painful Lessons You’ll Learn as a Freelancer

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors. Disclaimer

The times are tough, and many folks are seeking additional sources of income. That is why almost one-third of Americans are freelancing. 

Being a freelancer has its perks, but it also comes with unique obstacles to this career. This article will prepare you for some of the things you should expect to learn as a freelancer. 

Your budget will fluctuate

freelancer lessons aren't always cheap

Freelancers don’t necessarily make less money than people in traditional jobs. However, because of how freelance income works, they often live on tighter budgets for some part of the year.

With a traditional job, you know how much money will be coming your way with each paycheck and when each one will arrive. Freelancing can be much less predictable. Your income might depend on which clients you have at a given moment and how much work those clients have available. You might also face more unexpected expenses—when your laptop breaks, you’re the only one who can replace it.

Because of this, you will have to be more careful about recreational spending. More of the money earned will have to go to your savings account. You should also have an emergency budget set aside in case of unpredictable expenses. Or, better yet, once the money starts coming in, consider hiring someone who provides professional accounting services to help you with budgeting. 

Being your own boss is difficult

When you are a one-person operation, it is hard to feel like you are running a business, especially if you are simultaneously your boss. However, this is what freelancing is. 

It’s often difficult to focus when you feel like no one is watching you, and you have weeks before your next deadline. Procrastination can set in quickly if you aren’t careful. It will take an enormous amount of discipline to stay focused, but it’s also something that can be improved over time.

To avoid getting stuck in a rut, try working from a different location – even moving your laptop to another room can help. When the situation permits it, head to a coffee shop or another place with people you can see, even if you don’t interact with them—every change of pace matters. 

Freelancing isn’t a get rich quick scheme

freelancer lessons - you likely won't get rich quick

Few people realize how much work freelancers undertake every day. 

Freelancing is a lot of things, but it isn’t quick and easy. It can be quite challenging being your own boss, and you might not always get to take vacations or time off. Sometimes, you’ll forget to eat or even forget which day of the week it is. 

Don’t let this struggle get to you. Instead, set your boundaries and make rules that work for you. If you figure a way to trick your brain into being more productive, go for it. (For instance, I found out that I am less efficient when writing in my loungewear. Just wearing regular pants boosts my productivity. It might seem silly, but it works). 

Some people cannot handle the lack of structure that comes with freelancing. If you give full-time freelancing a try and realize you miss the structure of a regular job, that’s okay, too. There’s no shame in going back to a regular schedule after spending some time as a freelancer. Any experience you get freelancing will teach you valuable lessons that can help you in a traditional job, too.

Keep investing in yourself

If you want to stay relevant in the competitive freelancing market, you will have to invest in yourself continuously. 

This means many things. When it comes to the way you present yourself and your work, you will have to cultivate your website, portfolio, and even your branding. 

On the technical side of things, this means investing in your equipment and getting to know the latest trends and technologies relevant to your work field. 

It also involves investing in yourself as a professional by continually learning and improving your skill set. And finally, this means putting yourself out there by building a network of people who know what you do and who might be your connection to the next big job. 


As you can see, freelancing can be challenging. But, if you do it right, it brings a far greater level of satisfaction than a regular job ever could, according to a study. Sometimes, money can be a bit tight and that might seem a bit scary, but it is well worth it. 

The most important thing when you start freelancing is just to do it. Don’t overthink it or doubt yourself. Being your own boss is tricky, but the pros far outweigh the cons. 

Take it one step at a time, build your business, your connections, and your brand and things will work out fine in the end.

Read Next: 6 Tips to Make it Through Your First Year of Freelancing

The views expressed by contributors may not align with PulseBlueprint’s own views or the views of any PulseBlueprint team member. All contributions are reviewed for editorial guideline adherence. Want to publish your story on PulseBlueprint? Here’s a step-by-step guide.