What’s Stopping Freelancers From Achieving Financial Freedom?

The biggest mistakes you’re making in your writing journey and how to get past them.

What’s Stopping Freelancers From Achieving Financial Freedom?
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

The biggest mistakes you’re making in your writing journey and how to get past them.

I hustled on the side for years before I became a full-time writer.

I know how difficult it is to monetize your passion. Freelancers are often lied to, cheated, or taken advantage of by clients.

I myself have had clients who promised to 10x my rates once they got funding, only to disappear after making me write a couple of articles at 1/10th my usual rates.

I’ve had clients who refused to clear the invoice on the vague grounds that “The quality isn’t up to it.”

I’ve had clients who made me go through multiple revision rounds, when our contract clearly limited the number of free revisions to two.

It’s a brutal world out there for freelance writers. 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve and achieve financial freedom, you’ve got to think out of the box and plan well. 

In this post, I’m sharing my experiences of how I saved up a good corpus as a freelance writer and how you can do the same. 

Here are four reasons why most freelancers aren’t financially free.

1. They fail to plan finances

I’ve been guilty of this for longer than I’d like to admit. During my good months, I spent mindlessly on luxuries. I purchased things I didn’t need, ate out more often than I should have, and booked holidays in exotic locations just because I could.

This was all fine until the cash flow got interrupted.

When the lean months came (as they inevitably would), I was stressed. I had enough to get by, but the luxuries were few and far between.

Whenever I made any more money than I needed, I’d spend it immediately. This kept me stuck in the hamster wheel: working all day but never making enough.

Do you feel you’re stuck in the same and want to break out of the wheel? Do this:

Each month, before spending on other things, pay yourself.

  • Save 30% of what you make every month
  • Diversify your savings portfolio 
  • Have some liquid cash as an emergency fund
  • Educate yourself on how to make your money work for you

More on that here: 

3 Steps to Make Your Money Work For You
Money isn't a resource you guard with your life. Rather, it's a tool that can help you live a life of freedom and…

2. They start charging too soon

When I first took up freelancing work, I was a nobody. I had zero online presence, no portfolio to speak of, and nowhere my clients could look at to justify what I was charging.

The result? I was paid peanuts for hours of hard work.

Now that I’ve been in the freelance writing business for a while, I know how much difference a portfolio can make. 

Without a portfolio, clients would pay $5 for the work they’d otherwise be happy to pay $150 if you have a stellar portfolio.

Don’t be too eager to earn at the start. Even if you manage to secure a few clients, the money won’t be worth the time spent.

Instead, spend the first few months of your writing career honing your skills.

  • Write ~25 articles and publish them.
  • Improve based on audience feedback.
  • Establish thought leadership on a niche of your choice.

Your work and social proof will act as a portfolio that attracts high-$$$ gigs. I’ve talked about this process in detail here: 

Get Your First High-Paying Freelance Client in 90 Days
Whether you're an absolute beginner and never earned a dime writing online... Or a freelancer who's frustrated with $5…

3. They give up too soon

My first freelancing gig lasted a month. It was so stressful and low-paying, that I vowed never to write for clients again. I gave up because I couldn’t justify putting in so many hours of my life for something that valued me so little.

Now that I look back, I understand that if I adjusted my expectations and kept writing to build a portfolio rather than make money, I wouldn’t have faced this issue.

No matter what niche you pick, growth takes time. You can’t expect:

  • Traction after writing 5–6 articles.
  • Clients by just sending 10 pitches.
  • 10k followers by staying consistent for a month.

Don’t get demotivated and give up too soon.

Instead, do this:

  • Aim for ~25 excellent articles
  • Send 10 pitches + 3 follow-ups every day for a month
  • Post consistently for a year

Growth will be slow at first. You’ll feel all your hard work is for nothing. But if you stick with it, the graph will get exponential with time. Don’t give up before that.

4. They constantly run after new clients

The biggest lesson I’ve learned after spending 2.5 years as a freelance writer: 2–3 clients who pay high-$$$ are more valuable than 10 clients who pay peanuts.

Go for quality, not quantity.

You can’t manage 10 clients together and deliver quality work. Your focus will be all over the place. You’ll context-switch so often, your brain will be exhausted.

Instead, work with fewer clients.

They’re easy to retain and manage. You can consistently provide quality work and charge more. You can understand their requirements at depth, and upsell your services to make better money.

Reasons why most freelancers aren’t financially free: Final words

When you’re working as a freelancer, it’s quite a challenge to find the balance between making enough money without compromising your mental health.

I know it took me a full year before I could finally have a semblance of work-life balance, and also make enough money to feel this is a sustainable lifestyle.

Based on my experience, here are four reasons why freelancers struggle to achieve financial freedom: 

  1. They fail to plan finances and spend every penny they earn.
  2. They start charging too soon, and get demotivated after earning peanuts for their hard work.
  3. They give up too soon before seeing any real traction.
  4. They constantly run after new clients.

Are you guilty of making these mistakes? Share your experience and insights in the comments.

I just launched Freelance Superheroes: A training program for writers who want to earn from writing online without leaving their job, attract gigs outside Upwork/Fiverr, and become irreplaceable. Get it today!

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