Although being one’s boss sounds like the quintessential dream, freelancing can bring forth unforeseen challenges that can make you backpedal fast on your dream. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Whether you are about to venture out as a freelancer or have been at the game for a while, it’s always good to learn from the mistakes of others before you inevitably make your own.
We have gathered a list of 7 common mistakes that most freelancers end up making but are easily avoidable if you are aware of them.
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1. Not identifying your niche
Every job is not an opportunity! You will feel like grabbing whatever project you can lay your hands on, particularly in the beginning but it is important to pace yourself. Do your research before accepting any offers. Communicate with other freelancers who are active in the industry you are interested in.
And most importantly, clear your mind of any doubts and identify the niche you want to work in.
This will help accept only those offers which you will actually enjoy taking up. After all, what’s the point of freelancing if you don’t even enjoy it in the first place!
2. Missing deadlines
Before you take up a project, decide on a deadline that both you and your customers are happy with. 99 out of 100 times, you have to deliver your project before the agreed-upon deadline as not meeting deadlines can ruin your reputation as a freelancer.
Delaying projects can leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth and not only will they never hire you again, but they might even end up advising others to stay wary of you.
So here’s something you should do:
Estimate how long it will take you to finish a project before taking it up. And while you’re at it, give yourself a little extra time for unexpected delays.
Meeting deadlines is one of the best ways to build relationships with the clients and staying organized. If you learn to stick to this rule, you will have a successful run.
3. Not Maintaining professionalism
Even though freelancing is more relaxed than an everyday office job, you have to remember that you are still working and someone is paying you for that work. Hence, do not get very friendly with your customers.
Another thing to keep in mind is to not be short-tempered with your customers even when your anger is justified. Handle situations professionally and not under the influence of emotions.
4. Not having backup plans
It’s a volatile market for freelancers. At one point in time, you might be flooded with work and at another, you could face complete drought. Hence, it is wise to have more than one source of income.
It is unpredictable what might happen in the future and as you are not getting a steady paycheck, having backup plans can help. Also, save up for several months before beginning your freelance adventure so that you can get through tight times.
You may also consider switching to a regular job if your freelancing gig does not seem to be working out.
Always keep a resume handy in case you want to apply for traditional job roles. You can take the help of online resume samples to incorporate your freelancing experience in your resume in an impressive manner.
5. Biting more than
It might be tempting to take on multiple projects as more projects mean more money but ask yourself, would you be able to finish all your work before the deadline? Not only that, working for long hours can burn you out and make you less productive every passing day.
Take advantage of the flexibility that a 9-5 worker cannot enjoy. Do whatever you want whenever you want and enjoy being a freelancer rather than putting yourself through the grinder.
6. Not pricing your services correctly
In other words, know what you are worth! It might be tempting, especially in the beginning to undercut the standard market prices and provide cheaper services to build a client-base but this is not going to help you in the long run.
Understand the market prices and figure out what you should be charging that would be fair to both you and your customers and more importantly, profitable.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t make exceptions or never offer discounts, but be smart about it. For example, offer discounts for a limited period or give a certain percentage off to the first 10 customers, etc.
You can also charge different customers different prices! It all depends on how much time, effort, and resources will go into a certain project and every project is bound to be different from the other. So, don’t let a customer haggle by saying, “You charged xxx to xxx, why am I being charged more?” Tell them that your rate depends on the number of hours it takes you to finish a project and how large a particular project is.
7. Not learning to say no
There are going to be instances when your customer will demand the impossible from you. Be honest and explain your limits. There might even be projects that don’t excite you, but as a freelancer, you have the option of picking whatever you want to work on. Only say yes to projects that are feasible, profitable, and enjoyable to you.
Do not repeat the common mistakes made by hundreds of freelancers before you that can be prevented by simply being aware and mindful. Of course, it’s not possible to avoid them all as to err is human but a little research will take you a long way.
Summing up common mistakes that freelancers should avoid:
- Do not work on something that falls out of your area of expertise.
- Keep your promises by delivering projects before deadlines.
- Save money before venturing out as a freelancer and always have something to fall back on if the business gets slow.
- Know your limits and stick to them.
- Be upfront about your prices and do not compromise.
Moreover, be an active part of the freelancing community and seek help from fellow freelancers.