…and what you can do to prevent them
You might be wondering:
Freelancers have got it easy. They manage their own time. They get to work with multiple clients if they want. They don’t have a boss.
Well, on the one hand, you may be right.
That is if that person has been through the 8 common mistakes every freelancer makes and learned to improve on them.
Freelancers don’t have it easy as most people think:
Compared to a regular 9-5 job where you just have to show up for work and do what’s on your desk or your to-do’s, freelancers need to ensure a consistent flow of work. And oftentimes, because they fear the instability of the freelancing business, they play it safe; thinking that it’s for their own good.
Those new to the freelancing industry are the ones most prone to commit the mistakes we’ll discuss on this post.
Knowing the 8 mistakes every freelancer makes will help you become aware of them and hopefully, avoid letting them happen…again.
Let’s look at each one of them and see what we can do to overcome them.
1. Not knowing your worth and standing up for it
For me, this is the top mistake that freelancers make; especially those who are new to the industry.
What usually happens is that people sell themselves too low, just because they want to close in a client.
Well, GUESS WHAT?
Your client NEEDS you, more than you need them.
If you’ve got what it takes to do the job and are confident to deliver great work, don’t under-price your services. Know your skills well, and set a rate that matches the work you aim to deliver. Take into account your expenses and needs as well.
Doing work that doesn’t give you much returns will make you hate the work in the long run.
Just because you’re starting out doesn’t mean you should start low. If a low price is what you only have to offer, then you’re going to lose in the long run.
Here’s the reality:
Clients will haggle. If you already post a low rate, to begin with, you don’t have much runway for the negotiation.
Anticipate the haggling and be ready to land on a rate that is still commensurate with the quality of the service you are to give.
Don’t know what rate to start with?
Assess your skills then do some research on what the prevailing market price is for your service. Take courses and strengthen your knowledge. This will also help you boost your rate, even though you’re a newbie.
2. Not making yourself “sellable”
Here’s a subtle mistake freelancers don’t know they’re committing.
They know their skills; have a good rate to start with.
But they are uncomfortable in “selling” their services.
Well, wake up!
Clients will not always land on your lap. You need to get yourself out there.
You are in a business of providing service to people. You are your product. So start selling.
Selling doesn’t mean you have to be pushy or be in their faces. A good selling practice is to listen to your client. Understand what they need. Make the discussion about them, their business and their needs and less about you. Don’t parade your long list of awards or credentials.
Ask what they need. Listen more than you talk.
When you show you’re sincere and can give value, clients will see through your genuineness and book you.
3. Starting work without a contract
Just because you want to have work posted on your freelancer profile doesn’t mean you hurry up and do work without having proper documentation of what is expected of you and how you will be paid.
We are in an industry where we get paid for what we do. We don’t have guarantees or bonuses (although some clients do give bonuses for great work).
It is a must that you secure a contract before starting on anything.
I have encountered freelancers who just talked with the client through chat and started the work right away.
What if that client is only after your output but won’t pay?
What if you never get to talk to that person after you’ve exerted effort on the task?
That’s time and effort wasted.
Don’t rush into doing the work without having security that you will get paid. Have the contract properly filled out and make sure it has the necessary information:
- your role and responsibilities
- the contract duration
- how much you’re going to be paid
- when you will receive the payment
And also, don’t start any work without a down payment, especially if your contract is not on a freelance platform that has escrow. Platforms like Upwork have this in place so you worry less.
4. Being a Do-It-All Freelancer
So, you want to be all over the place.
You offer Virtual Assistant services, Graphic Design, Account Management, Social Media Marketing, and more.
Well, you might be hurting your “sellability” more than strengthening your portfolio.
Having this tactic sends a message that you are an average freelancer. Because let’s be honest, no one who does more than 5 skills at a time is ever going to be a master of something.
This also sends a message to prospects that you are not the best out there for that skill.
So, what do you have to do?
Focus on a niche. Assess yourself carefully and pin down what you are good at or at least what you want to be good at and work towards mastery of that skill.
If you’re looking to expand, grow your expertise to skills that are related to what you’ve already mastered. For example, you do social media marketing or management. You could explore email marketing or affiliate marketing next.
Explore opportunities that are related to your niche.
This will help you sell yourself at a higher rate as you can guarantee that you are one of the best ones who offer that skill.
5. Engaging with only ONE client
You are a FREElancer. Emphasis on the FREE.
If you only have one client and they are dictating what you do with your time, then you have a boss and a job. You’re not really a freelancer.
Being a freelancer allows you to engage with multiple clients and have multiple income streams. It’s time to take advantage of the industry you’re in.
Engaging with multiple clients allows you to have a back-up in case one contract suddenly ends. Ideally, you should have around 3 overlapping contracts and some room for your self-development as well.
Manage your time wisely.
6. Always saying YES
Remember that we are in a business of getting paid based on what we do.
If your client is consistently adding to your work and that isn’t part of your contract, then you need to learn to say NO.
Let them know that you need to amend the contract.
Sure there will be times that your client will get a free pass, especially if the task added is very trivial.
But when you feel like you are doing more than what you’ve signed up for, you have to draw the line.
Let your client know your worth and the value you are providing.
Here’s a tip:
Of course, you don’t demand an increase aggressively. Instead, paint a picture of what goes on in your work day to your client. Highlight the things that you have been doing differently since you started and the benefits it has given to their business.
Then that’s when you offer a sweet deal of continuing the service for a higher rate.
7. Not reaching out to past clients
This is another gold mine that freelancers forget to take advantage on:
Past. Successful. Contracts.
More often, freelancers are eager to close in NEW clients instead of leveraging on the relationships they have built with their past ones.
Constantly engaging with your past clients will give an impression to new clients that you’re giving great service because your past clients just can’t get enough of you!
So the next time you think you have the bandwidth to do more work, send a message to that previous client of yours and do a follow-up.
Genuinely ask how they have been doing and offer help.
I tell you, this is a sure-fire move that will let your clients feel that you have concern over their growth.
8. Working too much
Last but certainly not the least, freelancers take too much of their free time and convert it to “pseudo-productive” time.
I say pseudo-productive because you’re spreading yourself too thin working 20 hours a day.
You’re not a robot. You’re a FREElancer.
Emphasis again on the FREE.
You’re not truly free if you’re tied up doing more jobs than your body and mind can accomplish.
Go back to the reason why you wanted to do freelancing in the first place.
Isn’t it because you wanted a better hold of your time? Don’t you want to have more time for your family, yourself and your personal development?
It doesn’t matter how much money you’re earning at working 20 hours per day.
You’re still losing.
You’ll end up in a hospital because you’ve worked yourself until your body can’t handle it anymore.
Are you working too much because you want to earn better?
Then start giving better services so you can charge higher!
Take time to upskill and learn new things. You will give better service when you’re properly rested.
Remember that in the freelancing game, you’re winning if you work less but get paid more.
It’s your turn to make a move
Now you know the 8 mistakes every freelancer makes.
Are you committing one of these? Put an end to those mistakes and start anew.
Share this to a freelancer friend and help them put an end to these mistakes too.