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8 Mistakes Every Freelancer Makes

Nick Hiley April 4, 2024 · 5 min read

We didn’t set out to be freelancers because we love dealing with clients, sorting out taxes and taking our financial lives into our own hands, we are freelancers because we love the craft that we do. We’re creative people not business people and because of this it’s easy to make mistakes.

In my time of freelancing I made plenty of mistakes which I’ll share with you today and how you can avoid them in your career.

1. Charging Too Little

This is probably the biggest mistake I made and that’s why it’s at number one. My idea was to charge as little as possible for my work with the hopes of that being attractive to potential clients. This actually has the opposite effect. Clients may see you as ‘cheap’ and someone who provides low quality work.

Solution

It’s important to charge what you think you’re worth as well as how much you need to live. Here are a few articles about pricing

2. Contracts

Having no contract or formal agreement in place when working with a client can mean you doing more work than you expect to and some clients may take advantage of this. A contract should make everything clear about your services for the client. This means you should spell out everything about your services from payment schedules to the amount of revisions you’re willing to do.

Solution

You don’t have to be a lawyer to get yourself a contract, there are plenty of templates and samples out there to help you set your terms and conditions for your clients. Here are a few to get you started:

3. Knowing When to Say No

Many will argue that the client is always right. Others will argue the opposite. Regardless of this sometimes you need to say no. You may be asked to work less than your regular rate or the client may add tasks to your current work pile. It’s good practice to say no to clients that could harm your reputation, try to barter on pricing and companies with a bad reputation.

Before starting work for any client you should research their business. How do they treat their customers? What are their work ethics like? Answering these questions will help you get a better understanding of the project and also give you an idea of what to expect working with them will be like. If you decide to say no, don’t regret it – there’s plenty of more potential clients.

4. Appealing to Everyone

It makes sense to offer more services to broaden your market. However, focusing on and specialising in one or two services could gain you more clients. This is because you can easily make a name for yourself as the expert in landing page design, for example, but it’s much harder to be known as the best web designer. Pick a niche that you love doing and something you’re good at.

5. Staying in Touch with Clients

You work so hard to find your clients and then once the work is done, you simply pack up and leave. This is something I did often and probably lost out on a lot of work. The easiest way to stay in touch with past clients is to build an email list that provides your clients with content about your business. Offer discounts to your previous clients and they’ll be sure to hire you again.

6. Time Management

I used to give my clients inaccurate time scales and think that I could work faster than I could. When this happens you miss deadlines and even lose a client’s trust. When giving your client an estimate of how long a project will take, it’s easier to break it up in sections and think how long these sections have taken you in the past. That way, you’ll keep your clients happy!

7. Marketing Yourself

When I first started freelancing, I built myself a portfolio, added some concept work, had business cards made and then waiting for clients to come to me. I now see how ridiculous this sounds because nobody knew who I was and my only clients were people I already knew. If you want to find work, you have to go to them and find your clients. Here’s how.

Blogging

Probably the most popular way freelancers market themselves is by blogging. Show your potential clients how professional you are by writing about your craft.

Networking

Networking online and offline can gain you a lot of clients as they get a chance to know you before they work with you. Setting up your social profiles, sending email proposals and participating in industry meetups will help you meet potential clients and future colleagues.

8. Working Too Much

As a freelancer, you are the only person in your business and means that you don’t get paid time off or other benefits that employees get. This caused me to work everyday all day in fear that I would never have any money and I soon burned myself out. Taking time off for yourself helps you to regain motivation and feel more refreshed to work.

Solution

Many self employed people regularly put earnings into a savings account so that when it comes to take time off for whatever reason, they have the money to do so and not have to worry about losing out on income.

What Mistakes Have You Made?

It’s our human nature to make mistakes. If we didn’t mess up once in a while, we would never learn so don’t feel bad about screwing something up, embrace it! Let me know some of your mistakes you made as a freelancer in the comments below.


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About the Author
Author
Nick Hiley

Founder of King Digital, a digital design studio for small businesses and startups.

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