Ask freelancers what’s the worst thing about their job and at least a quarter of them will say, “not a thing.” You get varied work, flexible hours, you can work anywhere, it doesn’t take any money to start, and you can choose who to work for and what you do. But freelancers do face certain challenges.

There’s no guarantee they’ll find work or that they’ll be paid, for that matter. They constantly have to find new work, their workload is inconsistent, loneliness distracts, staying focused can be difficult, and keeping clients happy isn’t always easy.

Other drawbacks include the reality that unless you add staff, when you stop the money stops. You’ll need to find back up, too, if you get busy and don’t want to lose available work. And there are the competitors who are willing to work for peanuts. Plus you’ll have non-billable hours you’ll have to invest looking for new gigs. There’s no medical plan or retirement program either.

Collis Ta’eed, author of How to Be a Freelance Rockstar found this out about freelancers

Who Are Freelancers: Survey Findings

  • 85% work at home
  • 81% are male
  • 87% are between eighteen and thirty-seven years old
  • 65% had two or more years experience before they started freelancing
  • Web designers accounted for the largest percent of freelancers at 41%
  • Graphic designers accounted for 25%, programmers 13%, writers 6% and illustrators 4%
  • About 15% freelance part-time in hopes of making the transition to full time
  • About half plan to expand beyond the sole operator
  • 54% do not feel secure as a freelancer
  • When asked why they decided to freelance, they answered:
    • for more flexibility (72%),
    • for more creative control (60%),
    • to work from home (58%),
    • to make more money (54%),
    • to grow a business (49%),
    • to work for myself (39%), and
    • to spend more time with family (15%).
    • 89% are happier since freelancing
    • The majority work between two and five hours for every hour they bill.

There’s no substitute for advice from the trenches. Here’s some of the best advice we’ve gathered from our own experiences as well as those of veteran freelancers.

If your thinking about a freelance career here’s some advice from out experience:

  • Stay true to the reason you decided to freelance to begin with.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Don’t work with clients you don’t like or trust. Life’s too short.
  • Throw in an occasional freebie—it builds loyalty.
  • Do it right. Do it well. Deliver it on time.
  • Communicate with your clients—don’t keep them in the dark.
  • Avoid surprises—unless they’re good ones.
  • Don’t over-commit.
  • Put it in writing.
  • Your reputation is your greatest asset.
  • Blow your own horn.
  • Never stop marketing.
  • Avoid price buyers.
  • Keep your overhead low.
  • Automate payment by having the client authorize you to charge their credit card or paypal account, or using an escrow service.
  • Pay attention to who owes you money. If possible, withhold final work until you’re paid.