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SWOT analysis of working from home: Weaknesses

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Today we will continue our SWOT analysis of freelancing from home with a special focus on content writing. This article is designed for writers who are about to start their careers and will likely be working through freelance platforms. Let’s take a look at the weaknesses:

  1. Finding Clients   

The biggest draw back in freelance writing is that there are already a large number of writers out there vying for the same jobs. It’s entirely possible that you are a good writer, meet all your clients’ requirements and are still having problems finding someone to hire your because of the large amount of writers in the market. This is why many freelance writers specialize in niche writing. If there’s something you’re passionate about put together a portfolio on that subject, and that subject alone, and sell yourself as a specialist. Many better-paying clients are looking for writers who actually know what they’re talking about.

  1. Will They Really Pay?

Unlike other fields like programming or web development, clients do not pay you part of your fee early. They receive your articles, analyze them, and then pay you if your work meets their requirements. Some clients may go AWOL after you’ve sent them a huge amount of work. If they were your main client for the week or month, this can be a huge loss for you. However, working through freelance platforms can provide some amount of security from this.

  1. Rejection

Sometimes your article may get rejected for whatever reason. You will have to learn to deal with things like this. Instead of getting upset, learn from your mistakes and make sure that your writing reflects what you’ve learned. On the other hand, there will be clients who reject your articles so that they do not have to pay you, but then turn around and use them anyway. This is, unfortunately, an occupational hazard.

Likewise, if you write directly to your audience, say through your own blog or series of eBooks, it may be that your work isn’t reaching the right people and, therefore, isn’t making any money. This risk is one of the reasons why freelance writers often choose to write for clients instead of for themselves. That way, even if the work doesn’t do as well as planned, you still get paid your flat fee – if you have a trustworthy client, that is.

  1. Writing Styles

There are various styles of writings and it’s important to have some knowledge of all of them. While you may specialize in a particular subject, you might have to write about it in a variety of tones, whether for a blog post, or an online newspaper article, etc. And then there’s SEO writing which is different yet again. All of this requires a lot of time, research, and, above all, practice.

  1. Loneliness

Because you will be working from home, you will often find yourself on your own. There won’t be any other co-workers to help you solve your issues and it will take a lot of self-discipline to sit down and get to work. To combat loneliness, try working in a co-working space or getting together with other freelancing friends for a work date at someone’s house or a local café. Just remember to stay focused!

  1. Processing Fees

If you use freelance job portals to find jobs and get hired then that site will charge a specific percentage per job as a processing fee. While this is annoying when you are completely dependent on that money for your livelihood, these sites also help to find work and provide some amount of pay protection. Once you have steady clients whom you trust, you can always leave the platform and get paid directly.

  1. You Get Paid for What You Write

You will only get paid if you work. If you need to take off a day due to sickness, or other personal reasons, then you will lose your income for that day. Even more importantly, you will often not be able to get weekends and holidays off, especially if you’re writing for someone from another country who celebrates on different days. If you want to pay for health insurance, or you need to save for an upcoming trip or holiday, then you will need to work extra.

  1. Keeping Clients

Like any job, online writing needs regular updates. If you take a week off it may mean that you lose a client forever. If that happens, you will have start the search for a reliable client all over again after coming back from your holiday or after recovering from your illness, which will mean hours spent working that you will not be getting paid for. One way to avoid this is, when you have a long-term relationship with a client, set up pre-arranged holiday time in advance so that the client knows you will be gone.

 

SWOT analysis of working from home: Threats

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Going from an office job to working from home as a freelance writer can sometimes threaten your already established career.

Content writing is a very cool profession that will let you work from home. At the same time, establishing yourself as a freelance entrepreneur can change your approach to writing entirely. Therefore, it’s important to analyze the threats this shift can bring to your career and your writing. The more you know about the threats of a freelance writing career, the better able you will be to protect yourself against them.

  1. The Internet and Its Many Distractions

If you can just get down to business without getting distracted by the technical side of things then this isn’t a threat for people like you. But if you’re easily distracted by new information (which leads to more new information, which leads to still more new information…) working as a freelancer can be a bit tricky. Since there will be no one hounding you to get back to work, you’re free to follow links all day – and then scramble to meet your deadline at the very end. To avoid this, make sure you come up with a method to keep yourself focused and on track.

  1. Society as a Threat to the Entrepreneurial Content Writer

One major fear people have about becoming a freelance content writer is the fear of society and its lack of respect for the profession. Because this kind of work is usually done from home, many people think of it as more of a hobby than a respectable career. For many of us, working in a field that lacks “respectability” can be very hard, as there’s a lot of pressure from society to have a “normal” career. It can make Christmas dinner with you relatives or parties full of strangers pretty awkward if they don’t think of your work as a real job.

  1. Almost Everybody Wants to Work from Home

And this means that if you’re scrolling through an online freelance platform looking at jobs, then there are countless people eager to get exactly the same job. Of course, there are lots of people who are just bunglers hitting a keyboard, but there are also great writers out there, and you will need to stand out among them.

  1. SEO Writing is Constantly Changing

Keeping yourself up to date is crucial and will help you stay ahead of the game. Failing to do so, on the other hand, can be very detrimental to your feelance writing career. Many clients want content with SEO to make their websites stand out. If you can’t provide this, you will be passed over for someone who can. Luckily, the internet is awash with guides for SEO writing. Schedule yourself some time to familiarize yourself with the concept and its implementation.

  1. Some Clients Don’t Believe Content Writing is a Real Job

Like I mentioned when talking about society as a whole, you will find that some clients also think that online writing is just a hobby – and not worth paying much for. If you ask me, you just need to avoid this type of client. If they don’t respect you or your work and don’t pay you what you deserve for it, then do yourself a favour and find someone with whom you can build a lasting working relationship.

  1. Currency exchange

You always need to be aware of changes to currency rates. Because you work online, you will have clients from all over the world and it is better if you can charge them in their own currency, if that’s what they want. On the other hand, many clients and contractors use American dollars or Euros as for simplicity’s sake. If you’re charging in dollars or Euros, make sure you know what that translates to in your own currency and in your client’s.

Would you like to have a work from home freelance career? Start here

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Working from home is not perfect. As with everything in life, you have to take a lot of things into consideration before you make the decision. But, if you are reading this, it is likely that you have decided that the pros outweigh the cons. I agree.

If this is the case, take a look at this article to see what your next steps should be. And, if you are still not sure, you should take a look at these articles on the many advantages of working at home versus the potential drawbacks of working from home. However, once you’ve decided to go for it, what’s the next step?

First of all, you will need to plan your business. Don’t think that just because you won’t be a big multinational company, you don’t need a business plan. That said, if the thought of drawing up plans and making spreadsheets overwhelms you, don’t panic. Creating a business plan is not as difficult as you might think and will be extremely useful for helping you to better understand what your life and career will look like in the near future.

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Because working from home requires you to be entirely self-sufficient and self-motivated, having some sort of business trajectory – not to mention a daily/weekly schedule – is a must. It doesn’t have to be a detailed breakdown of everything you want to achieve in life plugged into a complex spreadsheet. Instead, ask yourself what your long term goals are. Do you want to work as a full-time blogger? Self-publish eBooks? Quit your day job and work as an article or content writer? Or find the perfect balance between work and leisure?

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Whatever your goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable goals and give yourself a timeline to make sure you’re accomplishing each goal in a timely fashion.

For example, your first goal may simply be to set up a profile on one or more of the many freelance work platforms out there. While that may seem like a small thing, you’d be surprised by how many people find taking that first step to be the most daunting. So go ahead, put it on your ‘to do’ list. Whatever your ultimate goal is, if you break it down into smaller tasks it will become a lot more manageable.

Once you’ve established yourself and landed a few writing contracts, you’ll need to stay focussed on the work itself. While this may sound easy, when you’re working from home there are countless distractions to keep you from getting down to business (as you’ll see in my SWOT analysis), especially if you find something interesting in your research. Because so much of your work will be researching topics on the internet, it’s easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of links – only to emerge hours later with nothing on your page to show for the time you spent reading. To keep this from happening, try using a timer app to keep track of the time you actually spend working. Having an alarm go off every 20 minutes or half an hour is a great way to remind yourself of what you’re supposed to be doing – as well as chance to get up and stretch a bit.

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Likewise, it’s a good idea to find a quiet, distraction-free space, whether in your home, a library, or local café, where you can work without interruption. If you still need help concentrating, try turning off your phone or, if you don’t need it for research, disconnecting your wifi. While this may sound drastic, it removes the temptation of procrastination. Many freelancers find that having a specified space just for writing helps them to get down to work faster because their minds are trained to recognise that location as a “work only” space.

Because you’ll be working alone for the most part, it’s also important to remember to take care of yourself. Make time to stretch, go for a quick walk, or even just look at something further away that your computer screen in order to give your eyes a rest. It’s also a good idea to learn a few easy hand and wrist exercise to keep the tools of your trade at optimal operating capacity.

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Moreover, when choosing your workspace, make sure you find somewhere comfortable. Nothing ruins your concentration more than a sore back or cramped legs.

Finally, don’t forget to make time for your friends and family. Freelancing can get lonely. If you miss office life, maybe try switching up your routine and spending a day every week in a co-working space or getting together with some fellow freelancers for a work date in a café – just make sure you’re actually getting work done! Working from home doesn’t have to turn you into a social outcast. Your best bet is to try a few different locations and figure out a routine that works for you and your workload. After all, the best part about working from home is that it’s all up to you. If something isn’t working, change it!

In the next few posts I will go over my SWOT analysis of working from home, in which you will receive tips on researching and understanding your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. If you aren’t familiar with the SWOT analysis, you can start by reading Wikipedia’s article about the SWOT analysis. Over the course of the next few days I will be publishing a post discussing each of the four aspects of this business planning tool in order to help you plan your strategy for working from home.

If you want to keep receiving these and future posts about freelance writing, you can subscribe to this site in the left column for email subscribers, and in the right one for Google Plus.

Below you will find the four articles discussing my SWOT analysis of working from home. There is one article per category to help you decided what areas you need to pay the most attention to when starting your freelance business.

Here you can read about: