Freelancing: 18 Disadvantages & Drawbacks (Explained by a Freelancer)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

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As a freelancer, I often hear the words “it must be so nice to have no boss to answer to”. In reality, freelancing can be a dream job, if you have what it takes to make it a positive force in your life. As a freelancer, there are definite drawbacks and disadvantages, so it would be ill-advised to get to thinking that working freelance is all sunshine and roses.

It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of a new situation and forget to be realistic. Yes, while being a freelancer provides a certain element of freedom and can be lucrative, it can also be difficult and present a variety of hassles to your regular lifestyle.

If you’re considering trading in your 9 to 5 job for a freelancing lifestyle, you don’t necessarily need to be scared off by the below-mentioned points. Rather, take them into consideration and make sure that you are aware and comfortable with these possible “risks” before you jump into the deep end.

Let’s take a closer look at the possible disadvantages of freelancing below.

18 disadvantages and drawbacks of freelancing:

1. Plenty of distractions exist in your home workspace.

Here’s one most freelancers are all too familiar with: distractions. When in the office and working for a boss, chances are that you are all behind a desk and working during most of the day. When freelancing, you typically work from home; unfortunately, for your work ethics, that’s also where your TV, bed, pets, pool, garden, and various other distractions are too.

2. No job security (your income is always at risk).

One thing that a regular job has is a fixed contract and a salary. You know that, at the end of every month, you are going to earn a set amount of money that is going to cover your bills. That’s what job security is all about. Unfortunately, when you freelance, there is no guarantee that you will make the same amount of money every month. If you don’t prepare properly, you could find yourself in a difficult spot. 

3. You can feel lonely and isolated.

When freelancing, you spend a lot of time working from home. You can go out to coffee shops and restaurants to work, but then you would be spending money too. Working from home has its perks, that cannot be denied, but it cannot make a lonely person feel less isolated. If you need to be around other people all day in order to be happy, being a freelancer might not be for you. 

4. Clients can be unreliable.

Not all clients are going to be great clients. Some clients might keep you waiting for information for so long that the end of the month comes and goes. Others might keep you busy all month and then completely vanish on you when payday comes. You might find yourself chasing people for money consistently. This is one of the harshest realities of freelancing. 

5. There’s no fixed routine to your workday. 

If you like having a set routine, you will have to create one when you work as a freelancer. Set yourself a time to get up, a time to exercise, and a time to focus on work. If you don’t, you might find yourself suffering the consequences of having no routine. 

6. No salary benefits.

Another harsh reality of being a freelancer is that there are no salary benefits offered. When working as an employee of a company, you will be paid a set salary and given access to some perks such as health care insurance, staff discounts, and so on. As a freelancer, you have to think of those perks and make them possible for yourself. 

7. Your pay and income will fluctuate from month to month.

As a freelancer, you won’t be able to set yourself a salary. Some months might be much more lucrative than others. You might even find that income is minimal at certain times of the year, so you have to stash money during the good months. As your income fluctuates, it can also be hard to plan for the future. 

8. You always personally take the heat.

When you work for someone else, it is their company and therefore their responsibility when something goes wrong. Unhappy customers aren’t precisely your problem. When you freelance, that’s where things differ. As a freelancer, you are entirely responsible for everything that happens. You have to answer all the hard questions and deliver the bad news when something goes wrong. Do you think you can handle being in the firing line?

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9. Getting new clients can be hard.

When you work for a company, they have marketing and advertising teams drawing new customers in. Marketing can be expensive, and it’s something that a new business and freelancer cannot be without. As a freelancer, finding new customers can be grueling. It costs money, other freelancers will all be vying for the same project, and it’s hard to get your name out there. 

10. You are solely responsible for handling your own taxes.

When working for someone else, your tax may be taken care of and paid by the company. This means that you might never have to worry about any significant tax problem. As a freelancer, there is no one looking out for you when it comes to paying your taxes correctly and on time. You will be solely responsible for doing and paying your taxes. 

11. There’s the risk of slacking off.

One of the joys of being a freelancer is that you have no one supervising how you work. Much the same; it can be a curse. If you have no one to answer to, chances are that you could get lazy on some days and just not do the work. This can lead to making excuses to customers and even losing some if it becomes a frequent habit. 

12. Lack of home-work balance.

One of the nice things about working for someone else is that you get to leave the house every day. When you leave work, you shut down your computer and leave your work worries at the door. When you freelance, your work and home life become intermingled. It can be hard to strike a healthy balance between home life and work-life when you are always at home and always at work too. 

13. Sick days are unheard of.

As an employee, you are usually entitled to take time off if you fall ill and need to recover. This is not the case when you freelance. Taking time off work is almost unheard of, and if you are sick, you will probably find that your customers still want you to work. After all, you are “just at home”, right? 

14. You need savings or investment to get started as a freelancer.

This might seem a little farfetched, but it’s not. If you are going to freelance, you need to ensure that you have a reliable and secure device, as well as all the equipment and training you might need. You also need to make sure that you have enough money to carry you for a month or two if you don’t get any customers in. Before you can freelance, you should at least save some “safety net” money. 

15. There’s a risk of becoming redundant.

This one is quite a harsh one. When working for a company, chances are that they will provide training from time to time. You may have to do refresher courses or upgrade your qualifications along the way. As a freelancer, you won’t have to do that, but that also means that your skills may get a bit rusty, or you may fall behind your industry peers. You must be willing to keep up with your education while you are freelancing. 

16. Holidays and annual leave are unpaid.

When you take leave or go on holiday as a freelancer, no one is going to pay you for the days that you take off. 

17. You can be taken advantage of. 

Employee underpaid by boss
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Many customers have cottoned on to the fact that it’s tough out there as a freelancer. You might find customers more than willing to take advantage of you by offering below industry remuneration on projects you work on for them. 

18. Legal implications could be costly.

If you do something wrong and there’s a legal issue, you have to cover the costs of a legal battle all on your own. If you work for a company, chances are that the legal problems and litigations that arise will be taken care of by the company. 

Last Word

There’s a great world of freelancing out there, if you are aware of the possible disadvantages and prepare for them. If you know what you are in for, you have a fighting chance of making it a dream work situation. If you’re planning to start freelancing, good luck!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.