The technology that society now has at its disposal makes freelancing for both part-time and full-time income far more attainable and secure. However, there are mistakes that freelancers make that impede or even completely hinder success.
Here are 5 mistakes you can avoid when going freelance…
1. Not Treating Your Freelance Business Like a Business
It easy to think of freelancing like a hobby, but if you want income, it’s important to remember that it’s not a hobby— it’s a business. Treat it accordingly.
Get the proper legal advice specifically for freelancing, which means setting up your taxes and finances. Next, look professional and be professional whether it’s in person or online. Don’t enter a video-conference in your pajamas and never write colloquial emails when a professional tone is needed. After that, use an automated service like And Co to help you with your invoicing and proposals so that you maintain organization. Put these systems in place and most importantly, FOCUS.
So many freelance failures come from a lack of focus. Starting something and then moving to the next thing, and then the next thing, never really getting any traction. Don’t do that.
2. Not Setting Clear Expectations
A quick path to disappointing your clients is not setting clear expectations from the beginning. If you want a long-term freelance career, you’ll want to under promise and over deliver.
Make sure you present clear terms about the outcome that the client can expect along with payment terms and deadlines. Also, explain how your process works and execute any check-ins along the way. Clients like it when you keep them in the loop. Whether it’s a friendly hello or a question about guidelines, always keep lines of communication open and express appreciation. Finally, make sure you can deliver on your promises, and if you can’t, don’t state them.
If you can’t project certain results that the client will receive from the work you do, that’s ok. But, do not make promises that you can’t achieve. Be careful about your wording.
Which brings us to:
3. Not Knowing the Right Questions to Ask
You can’t perform your work well and set up the proper expectations if you do not learn the right questions to ask your clients about their needs.
Some of this comes with experience—you learn through trial and error—but there are actions you can take for a smoother process. For instance, ask about the client’s target audience that the work should cater to. Find out the problem behind the solution they are needing. They may think they know what they want, but if you know what the problem is, rather than just the solution they are looking for, you may be able to present an even better solution.
Get a link to their website and social media profiles, too. Explore the challenges they are having and how you can help. Develop smart questions that help you work better together while giving yourself a clear idea of their overall mission.
4. Not Practicing Self-Care
While having the freedom to work whenever and wherever can be great, it can also result in a lazy routine.
Don’t let your hermit-like life get in the way of taking care of yourself and staying active. It’s important to get dressed in the morning and create a workable schedule for yourself even if it needs to be flexible. Guard your personal time. Have a cup of coffee. Be sure to eat properly—you need fuel and energy to stay on top of things. If you are sitting a lot, take breaks. Walk around and get some exercise. If you are using a computer, make sure your setup is ergonomic to protect your back and neck.
You can also learn some exercises for your eyes or use an extension to remind yourself to look away from your screen at regular intervals. Also, make sure that you are developing creative practices to avoid burnout.
5. Not Knowing How to Price Your Services
An inspiring and empowering way to price your services is to work backward from your desired lifestyle. You can use an income calculator like this one from NPPA to calculate your expenses and the salary you want to earn.
In the beginning, you may take jobs at a lower rate to build your experience and this is ok. After all, you’re building a portfolio and want to gain clients’ trust. That being said, living that way forever isn’t ideal. Over time, you can slowly start to increase your prices and find a comfortable average.
Unless you are the only one in the world who offers your particular service, you may not be able to charge super-premium prices, so find a happy medium between the amount of work you are willing to put in, the value you offer, and the lifestyle you desire.
Do the Work and Reap the Benefits
Avoid these 5 mistakes, know who you are and what sets you apart for freelance success. Remember, freelancing is a grind, but if you put in the work and remain steadfast, great paying jobs are sure to come!
While you’re developing your style and searching for new work, take a moment to ask yourself: What experience can you offer your clients? What aspects of your business are missing and how can you improve them? Do the initial work to answer these questions and set up your business in a way that works for you so that you can reap the benefits and freedom you desire.