How To Overcome Challenges As A Web3 Freelancer

How To Overcome Challenges As A Web3 Freelancer

There are some great benefits to freelancing in the blockchain sector, but a few pitfalls you should anticipate and avoid too – especially if you’re just getting started.

Web3 offers some fantastic opportunities if you have the skill, experience, and disposition to make the most of them. But even if you are ready to make a go of a new life as a freelancer in the blockchain space, it’s not always easy. There are some unique challenges you’ll encounter – and the better you’re prepared for them, the greater your chances of enjoying a successful, sustainable career.

Here are seven difficulties freelancers in the Web3 world often run up against, and some tips for negotiating them with a minimum of stress.

Getting Used To Crypto And Freelancing

If you’re used to stable employment in a permanent job, getting used to freelancing can be challenging. There’s no job security, no regular pay cheque, and none of the structure of working in an organisation. Equally, there’s far more freedom, and you won’t be answerable to any superiors. All in all, it’s a different world.

Similarly, if you’re used to the legacy financial system of banks and conventional payment apps, wrapping your head around crypto can take a bit of time. There are no middlemen, no authorities or centralised services, no points of trust; at the same time, you’re solely responsible for your money, and you’ll need to take security seriously.

There are lots of good reasons why you should seek to get paid in crypto, but all currencies are not alike. It’s smart to hold funds on-chain in stablecoins if you’re likely to need them soon, but consider putting aside some BTC, ETH or other crypto tokens as a long-term investment if you can afford it.

All in all, then, working in Web3 can be doubly challenging. You will need to find suitable work and negotiate pay, which means pitching your services at the right level. That’s not always easy. It can be tempting to undersell yourself in the hope of getting more work, especially when you begin your new career. On the other hand, you might need to accept a lower-skilled job than you deserve to get started and build your reputation and portfolio, even if it’s just for a short time. Read more about setting your rates wisely

Finding Work And Managing Your Workload

As a freelancer, employment is not always predictable. Unless you have a specific lead on a company who needs some work done, you’ll probably take a scattergun approach to begin with – applying for all sorts of jobs to maximise your chances of getting a gig. Eventually you will ideally have multiple clients who call on you regularly.

It can be difficult to control the volume of work you’re offered. Freelancing can be a feast-and-famine life: there’s always either too much or not enough. And it can be hard to turn work down when you’re busy, because you don’t know whether those clients will ask you again.

Even experienced freelancers struggle with this, and to some extent it’s unavoidable. Part of the solution is budgeting: making sure you put money aside from the busy times so you have a reserve to get through the leaner times. Partly it’s about ruthless discipline and planning, making sure you triage work and complete the most urgent tasks first. But partly, this is about managing uncertainty and anxiety.

All being well, there will come a point where you have a steady stream of work from many different sources. At that stage, it needs to be ok to say ‘no’ from time to time. Old habits die hard and that can be a challenging thing to do, but it’s essential for establishing sustainable working patterns.

Setting A Work-Life Balance

Working as a freelancer is very different to steady employment. You won’t have fixed hours, or an office – most likely you’ll work at home. That can take its toll on your family life and health, as the boundaries between work and home are blurred. Family commitments encroach upon work time (especially if you have small children), and it can be easy to end up working at all hours at the expense of your loved ones.

The key to managing this is setting clear boundaries. Make sure you set time aside for family, exercise, regular breaks, and rest and recreation. Ring fence time out from work to spend in other activities, and if you really have to work during that time (perhaps you have an important call) then make sure you replace it with another slot.

Working at home can be great, but it can also become stale and tedious. Mix it up from time to time by getting out and working in a coffee shop or local library, or even in the garden, if possible. Perhaps most importantly, know how to spot and avoid burnout. When you see the warning signs, take action immediately.


If working at all hours is one pitfall to avoid as a freelancer, another is struggling to motivate yourself. When you’ve been reliant on others to plan your time and provide you with tasks, organising your own timetable, going out and finding work, and sticking to deadlines may not come naturally. Unfortunately, as a freelancer, the buck stops with you. If you don’t deliver on-time, and to the required level of quality, employers will drop you in favour of someone who they can rely on.

Motivation is poorly understood. A lot of people wait until they feel motivated to start work, but this is a mistake. It’s a principle of cognitive behavioural therapy that the feeling of motivation comes from having completed tasks successfully, not the other way round. This makes perfect sense, because a feeling of achievement will naturally result from having finished a job to a high standard, and prove to you that you can do your work well.

If you struggle with motivation, the best thing you can do is start the job at hand – write the first line, compose the first email, search the first jobs site, and so on. Exercise also helps, since every activity undertaken adds to the sense of achievement and success. Make your initial goals realistic, and then aim to surpass them.

Building A Portfolio

Your odds of being hired – and getting paid well – will be dramatically better if you can demonstrate proficiency in the right kind of work. It’s vital that you build a portfolio of successfully-completed jobs, so you can immediately show prospective clients what you can do. If that includes testimonials from current or former employees, so much the better.

A portfolio has value of its own (beyond anything you were paid for the work itself), and it’s worth investing time and money in it, especially if you have nothing to show to clients yet because you’re at the beginning of your freelance journey. It might be worth taking on low-paid or voluntary jobs, if the outcome is something you can be proud of and a reference from a grateful employer. There are lots of grassroots Web3 projects that rely on community members stepping up and giving some time without any expectation of immediate compensation, especially if they’re in the bootstrapping or fundraising stages.

While a LinkedIn page, blog or website is a good start, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Why not establish a presence as an authority through YouTube videos on your chosen subject? They don’t have to be long. TikTok is now one of the most important social platforms for advertising your business – and it is a business (the business of selling your services). Videos on the platform are typically very short: just enough to hook a viewer and give them the information they need to find out more.

Working With Difficult Clients

From time to time, it’s inevitable that you will end up working with a client who, for one reason or another, you find problematic. This could come down to practical circumstances, like language barriers; if it’s hard to understand one another then misunderstandings easily occur, and it can be hard to communicate exactly what you both need or expect. Sometimes it’s simply a personality clash. In other cases, it will be due to a lack of social skills on the part of your employer.

In most cases, it should be possible to get along with a bit of patience. Use Google Translate if you’re struggling to understand your employer’s language. Also remember that it’s easy to take things personally when you don’t know someone well. Much collaboration in Web3 work takes place over chat apps like Discord and Telegram, which are ‘low bandwidth’ ways of communicating: that is, they are text-only, which means you don’t have the benefit of voice tone, facial expression, body language, and all the other cues that give a sense of a person’s mood and demeanour under normal circumstances.

From your side, having good communication skills will help set you apart as a freelancer, and will make it easier and more pleasant for employers to work with you. Check out our article, How To Communicate Well For Better Results.

Getting Paid

Last, but absolutely not least, there’s the problem of getting paid. This is a perennial issue for freelancers at the best of times, since you will typically not have a contract or the legal protections that come with regular employment. A lot of the time, you’ll be working on trust. Even if your employer is honest (as most employers from big organisations will be), you may still need to battle bureaucracy and chase up any invoices due.

In the Web3 space, that can be even more of a problem. Work arrangements can be very informal, and the additional degree of anonymity that often comes with working in the crypto world can increase your risks – though equally, there are plenty of large and reputable companies that hire freelancers.

If you’re in any doubt, start with a small job, and make sure you’re regularly paid for work completed; don’t take on more work until you’ve received payment for the last job.

LaborX has built a platform that addresses the worst pain points for freelancers in the crypto world. A decentralised reputation system, which scores users based on previous work and feedback, gives each party a sense of the other’s competence and reliability, before they agree to work together. The scope of work (whether a fixed-price Gig or a custom Job) is agreed in advance between customer and freelancer.

Before you start work, the employer will deposit your pay in an escrow smart contract, where it will be safely held until the job is complete. Assuming all is well and the customer approves the work, pay will automatically be released to you. In the rare event of a dispute, you will be able to argue your case with a third-party moderator, who will have access to your communication history, and who will be able to independently judge whether you have completed the work to the required scope and quality.

This avoids the problem of non-payment by employers, and gives freelancers confidence that they will be treated properly. However, to ensure fair treatment and to avoid scams, it is vital that all communication takes place on the built-in LaborX chat. If you receive offers for jobs that ask you to communicate via Telegram, that is a red flag, since you will have none of the protections LaborX offers and will be forced to trust your ‘employer’. (Find out more in our article, Common Scams On Online Jobs Boards.)

Finally, once you’ve been paid, make sure you keep your earnings safe by ensuring your wallet is secure!

That’s all for now! Let us know any other problems freelancers typically encounter, and how you deal with them, by tweeting @LaborXNews, or by joining the LaborX Discord