Freelancing appears to be the ideal situation for many people who are tired of their 9-5 routine. You can get out of bed after 10 a.m., have a pleasant cup of coffee, and then walk 10 steps from your bedroom into your workplace to start your working day on your terms. Isn’t that something out of a dream?
In real life, on the other hand, there is a different storyline. It’s not easy to get started as a freelancer.
These are some of the most common freelance mistakes that might disrupt your peace of mind. To avoid such scenarios, become familiar with the common freelance mistakes that every freelancer is going to make at some point.
30 Common Freelance Mistakes To Avoid
- You express anger or negativity
A client does not wish to hear your strange and bad political views. They also don’t want to hear about your nightmare driving ride to their meeting. They want to feel well. They desire positivity and friendliness. As a result, avoid displaying any negative feelings or characteristics. Make yourself someone who others want to be around. Maintain a light, entertaining, and inviting tone while remaining professional.
Read more about the essential soft skills you should develop in 2022.
- You’ve allowed work to take control of your life
It’s tempting to talk about work with friends and family at all hours of the day and night when you’re a freelancer, but this is the worst freelance mistake you can do. Don’t let your freelance work take over your life, and don’t forget to unwind. If you feel like work has taken over your life and is impacting your relationships, take a pleasant vacation to reset your work ethics and start over.
- You forget to file taxes
If you ask any freelancer about the most difficult element of their job, they’ll probably groan and then say one word: taxes.
When you work a typical full-time job, your taxes are deducted from your earnings automatically. However, as a freelancer, you’re accountable for cutting huge tax checks quarterly.
It’s difficult but vital. Use Refrens platform for GST invoicing or Find a trustworthy tax accountant to ensure that you keep on top of your tax obligations.
Check out 5 tax tips for freelancers.
- You neglect marketing
You’re a one-person company. It’s difficult to find time to sell your services. That’s why it’s critical to double down on effective marketing while avoiding ineffective and dull marketing. Developing those marketing strategies necessitates some trial and error.
Read more about 12 low-cost marketing strategies for freelancers.
- Neglecting your physical as well as mental well-being
Don’t allow working from home to suffocate your passions for anything other than work. Maintaining friendships, doing exercise, and taking a vacation from screens are all vital.
Make a personal connection, everyday movement, and digital separation your top priorities.
Your daily productivity as a one-person business is determined by how you feel and perform daily. Exercising, eating healthy foods, and spending time with friends and family are all good ways to stay on top of your game.
- Not having a written contract
While contract handshake deals can and do work, it’s always best to have a written freelance contract agreement with clients. Having a contract would necessarily help you recover money if they don’t pay.
- The Lack of a System
Successful freelancers keep detailed records of their expenses, due payments, and receive payments.
You’re in fine shape as long as you retain (and track) receipts, organize invoices and bills, and pay your bills on time.
For some freelancers, an Excel sheet and a receipt envelope will suffice.
You could also use Refrens as an independent worker to keep track of your invoices, quotations, and proforma invoice.
- Only making short-term plans
Just because you enjoy something does not imply you should plan to pursue it until you die. Nobody else is thinking about your retirement but you.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of freelancing. It’s all too easy to overlook items that don’t have an immediate influence on our business.
Don’t put your daily or weekly willpower to the test if you want to save for retirement, a wedding, a house, or a big vacation.
Rather, put in place some financial tools that will invest in your future while you sleep.
- No backup or other source of income
Freelancing isn’t the most secure way of life. The market might be unpredictable, with a wide range of options or a complete absence of them.
As a result, it is recommended to have multiple sources of income or a backup plan. Since you don’t have the stability of a regular salary, having another source of money can be beneficial if you run into financial difficulties.
Furthermore, before you begin your freelancing business, set aside enough money to get by until you gain traction.
- Losing touch with professionalism by being too casual
Losing contact with ‘professionalism’ is a side consequence of being a freelancer, not wearing business clothing to work, and working on your terms. You must always keep in mind that you are being compensated for your efforts. Even if you engage with consumers over Slack and they don’t see you, it’s crucial to have professional manners.
- Considering yourself an employee, & keeping your working hours to a minimum
When you don’t have a boss telling you what to do, it’s fantastic. However, this means you are solely responsible for selling your services, keeping your abilities up to date, negotiating and tracking payments, and prioritizing jobs to meet deadlines. Working exclusively from 9 to 5 while waiting for opportunities to present themselves is one of the most common freelancing mistakes. Consider yourself an entrepreneur who will go to any length to ensure that great work is delivered.
- Accepting all the projects
One of the most common freelancing mistakes is applying for every available assignment, which can lead to you being trapped doing work you don’t enjoy for clients who treat you like a commodity. Create a list of ideal clients who will treat you as an equal and whose company will support your ideals. You’ll save time and energy, which will allow you to concentrate on specific clients and businesses.
- Doing work you don’t like
When you first start freelancing, it’s not a good idea to take on any jobs that come your way.
It’s one of the quickest ways to send you back to your day job because performing a bunch of work you don’t like is a certain way to put your freelance dreams to bed.
It’s also a quick way to end up doing things you don’t enjoy just because you’re good at them. Whatever you do, stick to your principles and only take on work that corresponds with your long-term goals for freelancing. Select a niche and start working on that.
If you make these strategic decisions early on, your freelance career will expand and grow far more quickly.
- Accepting Clients Who Aren’t a Good Fit
There are a lot of opportunities, but a good customer offers work you want to do and are capable of doing, and who collaborates with you to reach a great outcome. Your client should be easy to contact, and they should pay you on time and in full, as per your contract.
- You overlook the importance of profit
It’s all too easy to fall into the habit of doing favors for friends, family, and even clients for no charge. It’s also simple to accept a job that isn’t going to pay well. Remember that you’re running a business and need to make money.
You’re not a charity, so don’t feel bad if you’re cutthroat and spend the majority of your time earning money.
- You become lazy & lethargic
We all have days when we don’t feel like ourselves. Slacking on projects and being lazy, on the other hand, is the quickest way to miss deadlines, disappoint clients, and lose future work. Maintain a productive attitude and a healthy work/life balance to keep yourself engaged and motivated.
- You don’t take things too seriously
Sometimes we get along so well with our clients that we mistake them for friends. They’re not your friends; they’re your clients, and this is a commercial transaction, so keep it professional and within safe bounds.
- You rely on far too few customers
The worst common freelancing mistake you can make is relying on just one or two clients to cover your expenses. That’s because those clients can turn off the power at any time. It’s generally a good idea to diversify your money streams rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. Get out there and win additional work, new clients, and various agencies. It’s up to you to reduce the danger.
- You don’t pay attention
You’ll miss essential components of the task if you don’t listen to what your client wants. You’ll go down the incorrect path if you don’t pay attention during the initial briefing. The client will have to restate their opinions if you do not listen to feedback on your job. Always pay attention to what your client is saying. Your best skill is listening.
- You don’t grow organically
It’s really difficult to acquire new clients, but if you do, and you maintain them well-served, you’ve got yourself a winner. So, why do you think you’re making a mistake by stopping there? Why not expand your client base and persuade them to employ you for other projects? If you’re a web designer who can also generate brochures, for example, make sure your client is aware of this. If you don’t think about how you can organically develop the clientele you already have, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.
- You don’t know what the brief is about
You might not know about a project or the client with whom you’re working. You may have done no research or not asked enough questions, resulting in a poor quality of work. A lot of questions need to be asked to get a handle on any new brief.
- You believe you are more knowledgeable
Remember the adage, “the customer is always right?” Well, it’s true… for the most part. Pay attention to their needs and respect their viewpoint. By all means, make suggestions; after all, they are paying for your knowledge. Just remember that you don’t always know better than your client because that isn’t always the case.
- You’ve scattered yourself far too thinly
You’ll understandably want to maximize your profits, but taking on too many assignments at once will only degrade the quality of your work. Your clients will notice if you stretch yourself too thin. It will make them feel angry and unwanted, especially if you keep delaying the assignment or, even worse, offering subpar, lazy, or hasty work. So that your work is not jeopardized, just take on projects that you can handle.
- Having an overflow of things on your plate
There’s also the well-known “feast or famine” scenario that comes with freelancing. When things are going well, they are going well. But what about when they’re bad? Every meal consists of noodles, and you’re worried about where your next payment will come from.
When you’re a freelancer, your reputation is crucial, therefore you need to be able to deliver high-quality work on every project you take on.
- You take the cash & escape
You know how it feels to want to finish an assignment, get paid, and move on to the next one as soon as possible. Clients, on the other hand, want to feel unique and want you to be concerned about their job. Don’t give them the impression that you’re just looking for a quick buck. Take pride in the project and strive to exceed the client’s expectations.
- You only put up the bare minimum effort
It’s easy to get stuck on a job treadmill, but where’s the fun in that? You’ll impress your clients if you put a little extra thought, originality, and consideration into it. Don’t just perform the basic minimum; go above and above. It could lead to more work or even suggestions from others.
- You are forgetting to seek referrals
The importance of word-of-mouth marketing cannot be overstated. This is true not only for businesses and products but also for your freelancing job. Finding new work might be difficult. And, far too frequently, freelancers leave a vast pool of potential untapped—their previous and current clients.
- Not Asking for recommendations
If you worked with someone pleased with your work, don’t be shy about asking them to recommend you to anyone else who could be looking for your services. It’s a fantastic approach to promote your freelance business without investing much time or money.
- You don’t follow up
You don’t follow up with the clients after the service is over. To keep a healthy relationship with their clientele, freelancers should do the same as businesses do after-sales services.
- You are underestimating your worth
One of the most typical freelancing mistakes is failing to build a personal brand. The client then refuses to pay what you are entitled to. Regardless of where you obtain tasks, aim to charge what you’re worth as soon as possible.
Whether you work directly with clients, interact with other freelancers, or are employed by agencies, making mistakes will only hold you back and maybe harm your business.
However, don’t be too hard on yourself. During the early years of freelancing, mistakes are made. On the plus side, you’ll learn from your mistakes and become a far better entrepreneur as a result.
Moreover, mistakes force us to consider other options. They force us to reconsider a problem and think imaginatively about alternative answers or methods. Making mistakes teaches us what doesn’t work and motivates us to develop new ways of thinking and acting.
Therefore, set out a few hours per week for marketing, relationship building, and business development. Even if you don’t need fresh work right now, investing that time now will save you a lot of time in the future if and when you do. You won’t have to start from scratch.
Read the negative feedback posted by consumers of other freelancers in your field on the internet. Why were these customers so dissatisfied? Is this something you’ve heard before? Once you’re aware of these common freelance mistakes, you can easily avoid them.
Research is your best friend, so do as much as you can before venturing into the realm of freelancing.
What are some of the biggest blunders you’ve made as a freelancer?