23 Reasons why you’re broke as a Freelancer (And What to Do Differently)

If you’re a freelancer, there’s a good chance you’re broke. You may agree with me that some of the reasons why you're broke as a freelancer may be directly caused by obvious preventable factors. Don't worry, we all have our take as a beginner!

In fact, statistics drawn from a survey (May 11, 2022) show that 62% of freelance workers in New York had lost wages due to an employer's refusal to pay them at least once in their careers. 

The data was gathered from a survey by the Authors Guild, Freelancers Union, Graphic Artist Guild, American Society of Media Photographers, National Press Photographers Association, American Photographic Artists, and National Writers Union.

It was also discovered that 51% of those who had lost income due to nonpayment had lost more than $1,000, and 22% had lost more than $5,000.

But the above is about those who put in some effort to drive consistent deliveries. There are, however, others who, due to certain negligences or inabilities have been broke as a freelancer.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the financial insecurity of freelancers. 

Reasons Why You're Broke as a Freelancer

If you're a beginner freelancer, there's no doubt that you've been through some tough times. I mean, we all have. But sometimes the bad moments can seem to last forever. If you're struggling financially as a freelancer, you’re likely affected by some (if not all) of the reasons listed below:

Not enough Clients

One of the many reasons why a freelancer might find themselves broke is not having enough clients. When you don't have a steady stream of work coming in, it can be tough to make ends meet.

This is why it's so important to continuously market yourself and build up a strong client base.

How to get more clients.

If you're a freelancer and you're feeling the pinch financially, here are a few things you can do to get more clients:

  • Reach out to your network of contacts and let them know you're looking for work.
  • Create a portfolio of your past work to show potential clients what you can do.
  • Join freelance websites and job boards to get access to new clients.
  • Use social media to market yourself and showcase your work.

Having no trusted Clients

The danger of not having trusted clients may be considered similar to not having enough clients. 

Having at least, a trusted client is important because it allows you to focus on the work, rather than having to worry about whether or not you're going to get paid.

This can help you stay motivated, engaged and focused on your goals.

How to find trusted Clients

One of the best ways of finding a trusted client has been through word-of-mouth referrals from existing clients who have been happy with the service that they received from you. 

You could also try approaching potential customers at trade shows where there will likely be lots of other people standing around talking about how great their products are – these people might just be interested in hiring freelancers like yourself!

If none of these methods seems viable for getting started as an independent contractor then perhaps it's time for some serious self-reflection; maybe there's something wrong with what makes up your identity as a freelancer.

why you're broke as a Freelancer
Photo by Alena Darmel on Pexels.com

The client doesn't pay you

No business loves this part! 

Statistics have it that over 62% of freelancers are not paid after their work. 

Though this is one of the most common reasons why freelancers are broke, and it's also one of the easiest things to avoid. 

And that is, by all means, setting up contracts and getting paid on time. 

You want to make sure you have a contract with your client in place before starting any work for them and ensure that they know what they're getting into (and if not, ask them!).

Make sure that the people you're working with are paying their invoices on time so that no money goes missing before it can be sent back home or deposited into your account. 

Sometimes, I try to see that they're paying me at a rate better than what banks offer as exchange rates.

Bad time management

To keep your finances in check, it's important to understand how much time you have and what priorities you need to set. Bad time management has been a major cause of the many issues faced by freelancers, small businesses and even large setups. 

How to Manage Time Properly as a Freelancer

Set goals for yourself.

It's helpful to think of specific tasks that need completing in the coming week or month, then identify which ones are most important and make sure they get done first. 

If something comes up later on down the road, write it down somewhere so when those deadlines are reached again – and they will be – you'll remember where things stand at this point in time.

You set your hourly rate too low

If you're working for yourself, it's easy to get lost in the weeds of your business and forget about the big picture.

But paying attention to what other freelancers in your industry are charging will help you set a realistic hourly rate for yourself.

The best way that I've found for figuring out how much money I need to make each month is by doing some research on average rates from other similar projects (if there's no data available, I'll use LinkedIn).

Once I know what kind of work is being done by others like me in certain cities or industries, then it's easier for me to decide on my own rate too!

Tip: Compare rates with top competitors on Fiverr, Upwork, Toptal etc, depending on which one of these reliable ones you're using.

You don't have a “freelance persona” your clients can identify with.

A freelancer needs to have a “freelance persona” that can be identified with by their clients.

This means you need to establish yourself as someone they can relate to, trust and feel comfortable working with.

Your ideal client will be looking for someone who is reliable and trustworthy, as well as able to deliver what they promise on time (or even better).

If you're not delivering this quality of service then it's going to be hard for them to continue working with you!

You need your brand/image/persona in order for people from all over the world (and sometimes even within industries) to come back again and again – so make sure yours shines through!

You do everything yourself

With your permission, I wish to sound a bit sticky!

You're a small business owner, not a one-man band. Gerrit?

You can't do everything yourself. This is true for freelancers, full-time employees and anyone who's working from home or remotely.

If your job involves writing or editing content for clients, you'll need to hire freelancers to help with the tasks that are outside of your skill set (and even if they aren't).

When I was first starting out as a freelance copywriter, I hired an editor so that my work would be ready by the time it went live on the site where it was being sold-but now that I've been in this industry for more than five years, I realize how much faster things go when there are multiple people involved in cleaning up any mistakes made during creation process before publishing anything online!

Tip: You can get jobs outside your comfort, outsource them to professionals, and make money while they make money too.

Your niche is too broad and competitive.

Your niche should be narrow and specific.

In other words, you should be able to describe your niche in one sentence, or at most two sentences.

A good way to test this is by asking yourself what would happen if someone asked you for a cheap website design.

What would it look like and how would it work?

If the answer is “I have no idea,” then the problem might not be dollar signs but rather dollars (or euros or pounds) and cents – your income might not be high enough yet so you need more than just $50-$100 per project; maybe there's something else lacking from your current business model.

Tip: Be specific and unique. It pays more!

Read Also:

You have no business plan… at all!

A business plan is essential for any freelancer or entrepreneur. It's not just a marketing tool, it's an outline of how you'll make money and what you'll use your time and effort for.

A good business plan should include:

  • Your goals – what do you want to achieve by the end of this project? Why are those goals important to you? What can't be achieved without success in this specific area of your life (or career)? How will this goal benefit others' lives too?
  • The steps involved – where do we start when we're ready to get started on our project/business idea/plan etcetera…and why should anyone else follow along with us!
  • A description of how much money each person expects from their investment into working together as a team…and how much time each person plans on putting into working together as part of their own journey towards achieving success through whatever means necessary (or even possible).

You are not networking properly.

Networking is a skill that can be learned.

You don't have to be born with it, but you do need to develop it.

The good news is that this skill does not require any supernatural powers or special skills; all you need is the willingness and determination to figure out how networking works for YOU!

Networking means connecting with people who want your help, whether they're looking for a new client or just want someone else's opinion on their project.

It also means building relationships with those around you so they feel comfortable coming into your office or meeting in person when they need something is done quickly and efficiently (which will happen more often than not).

Networking isn't just about meeting new clients – it's about helping others get what they want out of life as well!

If there's something specific someone needs in order for them to reach their goals faster than usual – whether it is learning new skills related directly towards making money through freelancing websites like Upwork; finding better ways of doing things like getting paid faster when working remotely from home; etcetera… then chances are good there might already be someone else out there already doing exactly what YOU'RE trying !!!

Inability to Price your services.

You need to know your costs and how much time you will spend on the project, but also what kind of work you can do for that amount of money.

If you’re not sure if you should charge more or less than someone else for the same type of work, then it might be useful to speak with a freelance writer about their pricing model so that they can give some advice based on their experience.

If pricing is something that concerns you personally, there are plenty of resources out there where people discuss this topic in great detail (some are even written by other freelancers!).

The best thing about these kinds of blogs/sites? They're absolutely free!

You're not impressing anyone with your portfolio.

If you’re a freelance writer, then your portfolio is the face of your work. You should be proud of what you produce and showcase it in the best light possible. But how do we impress clients with our portfolios?

Here are some tips:

  • Include samples from all types of projects (excluding ones that aren't suitable for client viewing). Your client will want to see examples from different industries, different genres, and different types of writing (i.e., short stories vs novels vs articles). This way they can get an idea about how much experience someone has before deciding whether or not they want them on their team as an employee or contractor. It also helps if there is an example from each year since most people don't realize how much time passes between jobs until after being hired by another company; therefore having several years' worth of work will give credit when showing off what kind of work ethic one has over time!

  • Presentation matters too; don't forget this part either because presentation skills matter just as much if not more than content quality itself! It's easy enough to go ahead and upload everything directly onto their site without any real effort put forth into designing something appealing enough – but remember: Clients want something visually pleasing too even though they may not realize why yet; so try making small changes here-and-there throughout every project page until satisfied 🙂

You Don't Treat it like a real job

Be smart! Treat it like a real job.

As a freelancer, you are your own boss and can work whenever, wherever and however long you choose.

However, this doesn't mean that it's always easy to make money as a freelancer.

You need to be organized and plan ahead so that everything goes smoothly while also being disciplined enough not to slack off on important tasks in order not to lose money that could have been made otherwise had they been done properly in the first place.

You'll also need patience because things don't always go according to plan; however, if there's one thing I've learned over time-especially since becoming financially independent – it's that making sacrifices is part of being successful at anything worth doing: whether it's building an online business or starting a family!

You're charging too little

You're charging too little.

If you're not charging enough to cover your expenses, your time and overhead costs-and even taxes!-you'll be broke as a freelancer.

You need to be making a profit in order to stay afloat, so make sure your rates are high enough to ensure you're making a profit.

If this sounds like you, start with these five tips on how to make more money as a freelancer:

1. Make Sure You're Charging Enough

If you're not charging enough to cover your expenses, your time and overhead costs-and even taxes!-you'll be broke as a freelancer.

You need to be making a profit in order to stay afloat, so make sure your rates are high enough to ensure you're making a profit.

2. Don't Be Afraid to Negotiate

If you want to make more money, you need to be willing to negotiate your rates. If a client tries to lowball you, don't be afraid to counter with a higher rate. Remember, you're worth it!

3. Get Rid of Non-Profitable Clients

You can't make more money if you're working for clients who don't pay well.

If you have any clients who are consistently late with payments or who don't pay what they owe, it's time to let them go.

Focus on finding better-paying clients that value your work.

You're wasting time on the wrong client work

You're wasting time on the wrong client work.

Don't work on projects that aren't a good fit for you, or that don't pay well and take too long to complete.

Do you ever feel like you're spinning your wheels with certain clients? You're putting in the effort, but you're just not seeing the results you want. If this sounds familiar, it's possible you're wasting your time on the wrong client work.

There are a few key signs that you're not in the right place. First, if you're constantly struggling to meet deadlines or deliver on expectations, it's a red flag.

Second, if you don't feel challenged or like you're learning anything new, that's another sign that the work isn't right for you.

And finally, if you're just not enjoying the work, that's a good indication that it's time to move on.

Of course, it's not always easy to walk away from client work, especially if it's paying the bills.

You're not spending enough time growing your business

If you’re broke as a freelancer, you're likely not spending enough time growing your business.

You need to spend more time on marketing and business development. Your marketing efforts should be focused on attracting new clients, which means doing things like:

  • Adding a link to your business profile on other sites (like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and even TikTok) will help people find you when they search for freelancers in the same area as you.
  • Reaching out to industry leaders and influencers in your field who could potentially refer clients your way. This method is called Influencer Marketing.
  • Making sure all of the content on your website is current and relevant – for example, if it was written 2 years ago, then rewrite it with fresh ideas based on what's happening now in the market or industry!

Also Check: The Digital Tools I use to Supercharge my Online Business

You're aimlessly procrastinating

Procrastination is a behaviour, not a bad thing. It can be used to your advantage and it's something you should embrace.

Procrastination is when you put off completing an important task or project in order to do something else that's more fun or interesting. 

This happens because we like to delay our inevitable death by worrying about all the things we haven't done yet, instead of doing what needs doing right away (the wise words of my friend Aaron).

Procrastination isn't always bad; sometimes delaying helps us prioritize our lives better and gives us more time to figure out what we really want out of life. 


if you're still young and inexperienced as a freelancer then I'm sure this might seem like a problem to which there is no solution-but don't worry! There are many ways for someone who hasn't yet made enough money through freelance work like myself could use their procrastinating tendencies towards good ends instead.

The point is, learn not to procrastinate aimlessly!

You're working for free and don't even know it

You're working for free if you're not getting paid what you're worth, or if your employer is late in paying you. If this sounds like the case, then it's time to start looking for other jobs!

Your friends/family aren't letting you do “real” work

If you’re not getting the work that you want to get done, it’s because your friends and family are interfering with your productivity.

It can be hard to set boundaries when someone is trying to help or support you, but this is a necessary step in order for anyone who has ever been broke as a freelancer to succeed.

You're chasing perfection instead of progress

If you're working as a freelancer, chances are that you've had your fair share of setbacks. 

You might have found yourself stuck in a rut and need to take some time off from work.

Or maybe there's been an unexpected change that requires some reworking on your part (like moving from New York City back home).

Whatever the case may be, these challenges can be daunting and they make it easy to lose sight of what matters most: progress! 

To prevent this from happening again, set goals for yourself every week or month so that when something comes up requiring attention or adjustment, there will always be something concrete in place waiting for you when needed.

Setting goals also helps keep things focused on what needs to get done today instead of thinking too far ahead into the future; otherwise known as looking at things backwards rather than forwards (which leads us to our next point).

Also Check: Our Selection of the Best Online Business Model (2022)

Your marketing is all wrong (or nonexistent)

Marketing is not just advertising. It's not just social media, it's not even just a logo and website. The marketing you do to promote your business is what sets the tone for everything else that happens in your business, including how much money you make or don't make as a freelancer.

It's important to realize that good marketing doesn't have to be expensive.

In fact, it can be free!

You just need some time and effort put into it. If you're new at this type of thing then I'd suggest finding someone who has experience with similar businesses before trying out some new ideas on your own (maybe even take classes from them or something).

You don't need fancy equipment either; all you really need are some tools like social media accounts where people can easily find out more information about what services/products they offer so they know whether they want any part of their company!

Your expenses outweigh your income

If you're struggling to pay your bills, it's important to understand why. Here are some common causes of this problem:

  • You spend money on things that don't matter as much as they used to.
  • You're not taking advantage of opportunities for growth in your career or business.
  • Your expenses are higher than what you earn from freelance work by a large margin

You've wasted too much time on social media

Social media is a distraction. It's a way to waste time and you aren't being productive. 

You're not getting any work done, because your brain is on social media instead of what matters most–your project or client.

Don’t get me wrong, Social media is a very vital instrument for a successful business. 

But how can you explain when asked how we've all been sucked into the vortex of social media and lost track of our real lives and responsibilities as freelancers or small business owners who need money coming in every month (or year). 

We've become so obsessed with scrolling through our feeds that we don't even realize how much time has passed by since we last checked in with ourselves or those around us…

Your entire life vs. just your freelance business is a mess.

The problem with freelancers is that we're all busy. We have to be, or else we don't get paid. But the truth is that your entire life – not just the freelance business-is a mess.

You wake up in the morning at 5 am and go for a run before work, then come home and collapse on your couch for an hour before having dinner with friends or family members who are visiting from out of town (or even from across town). 

Afterwards, you spend time catching up with old friends over coffee or wine at happy hour; then it's bedtime again! 

Maybe tomorrow will be different? Maybe not so much…

And that’s you have kept evolving the time over a few temporal daily engagements. 


If you’re struggling with a lack of clients or income, it’s probably because you don’t know how to do any of these things.

And if that’s the case, then we recommend taking some time off from freelancing until you can figure out what went wrong. You’ll have plenty of time to get back on track once the lean times are over!

Edet Sam
Edet Sam

Latest trends and development in Personal Finance, Investment Gist and Making money online opportunities. Stay tuned for my Youtube Channels

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *