Freelance jobs offer a unique level of freedom, but it isn’t as easy as it may seem. While you have the option to accept or decline freelance jobs at will, you’re also tasked with finding enough work to stay afloat and keeping yourself motivated without a supervisor. Too often, new freelancers will fail to value their work properly or stray from their budgets. If you’re new to freelancing, there are a few key mistakes that you should look out for. Actively avoiding these early on can help you form solid habits that will set you up for success.

1. Devaluing Your Work

Many freelancers underestimate the costs associated with completing freelance jobs. You can easily end up undercharging your clients if you don’t properly account for the business expenses and overhead that play into the overall functionality of your world as a freelancer. Likewise, freelancers often undercut their work by not managing and tracking time appropriately. When you mismanage your time, you are likely to lose profit when time spent does not properly equate to time invoiced. Finally, many writers are not aware of the “going rates” for project work and do not take the time to explore competitor pricing to effectively design service offerings that are both profitable and competitive.

How do you avoid this mistake?

  • Organize all of your expenses (direct and indirect) into a detailed list that is referenced and reviewed often to report on true profitability.
  • Meticulously track your time across projects and revisit your hourly rates regularly to make sure the time you are spending mirrors your compensation.
  • Spend time online exploring competitor rates to be sure you’re not leaving money on the table by charging less than the going market rates.

2. Slacking On Sourcing New Freelance Jobs

Many people are drawn to the freelance arena because of the freedom it affords, but they often have unrealistic ideas of what long term freelancing really looks like as a professional entrepreneur. The genesis of a freelance career often happens when a writer stumbles into a flurry of work that allows them to depart from their corporate position and dig in on their own. The challenge arrives when that initial flurry of work nears completion and you stumble upon the realization that you need ongoing work and new clients to stay in the game. Simply put, work will not fall in your lap. Life as a small business owner is a constant commitment to proactive growth.

How do you avoid this mistake?

  • Attend networking events regularly to meet new business owners and share your services and talents.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract new clients and showcase your portfolio work and recent projects by engaging and sharing frequently.
  • Set a lead generation goal to bring in a certain number of new clients regularly to keep you on task with developing your business.

3. Straying Away From Your Budget

When you are your own boss, there is no one else taking responsibility for your finances, both personally and professionally. The buck stops here! Many freelancers leap into the outsourcing arena without considering both a short and long term financial plan. This often results in a missed opportunity to prepare for the natural ebbs and flows of contract work, creating emergency income situations that lack the backup and resources required to outlast the “quiet spell.” If you’re also suffering from devalued work, this snowball can choke long term profitability and leave you personally and professionally stranded.

How do you avoid this mistake?

  • Outline your long term financial plan with a professional, considering retirement and other meaningful goals.
  • Create a professional and personal budget and stick to them!
  • Develop a backup plan that accounts for quiet periods in your workload and prepares accordingly to cover expenses until new clients come on board.

4. Poorly Communicating With Clients

As a freelancer, you will work with many clients and companies of varying styles, with differing needs and requests. It is your job to navigate those relationships by communicating effectively, so that you can deliver the very best product and client experience every time. Many freelancers are quick to say “yes” without clearly understanding the scope of freelance jobs, and then feel embarrassed when they have questions, deciding to make a guess and move forward without taking the time to clarify with the client. This can result in missed expectations and disappointment with the final product, leading to poor reviews and severed professional ties. Likewise, many freelancers overpromise and underdeliver, desperately wanting to secure a client by agreeing to unreasonable deadlines that simply can’t be met.

How do you avoid this mistake?

  • Confirm project scope in writing and verbally, asking all questions before beginning.
  • Set reasonable deadlines that you can confidently meet.
  • Always communicate your expectations and what your client will experience when working with you, avoiding any misrepresentation or exaggerations.

5. Not Trusting Yourself

Starting out as a freelancer can be scary, and sometimes diving into the entrepreneurial fray can cultivate momentary doubt and anxiety, which can lead to poor decision making. These fears can cause new freelancers to take on jobs that aren’t a best fit, creating destructive business relationships that lack joy and proper compensation, forcing your professional hand.

How do you avoid this mistake?

  • Trust your talents, trust your worth. You are your biggest cheerleader. You can do this! You are qualified, motivated and ambitious.
  • Trust your gut. If your instincts tell you that a potential job is problematic and wrought with red flags, then confidently say no and move along, avoiding negative partnerships, poor compensation and projects that simply are not a good fit.

The good news about each of these common freelancer mistakes is that they are all fixable. With a little elbow grease and a swift return to professional fundamentals and business 101, you can re-establish a long term professional career as a freelancer. Make room in your schedule to regularly evaluate the state of your startup, asking the hard questions that allow you to honestly evaluate whether or not these mistakes are creeping into your daily workflow. Take active measures to get back on track and dig back into a fruitful career on your terms.

If you’re ready to start tackling freelance jobs on your own, Spera can help by offering a better freelance platform. Turn to us for the tools and resources you need to succeed.


Author Cristiano

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