The Biggest Freelancer Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

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Nobody is perfect – everyone makes mistakes at one point of time or another. However, when it comes to running a business, making mistakes can be costly, especially if you happen to be a freelancer. Being your own boss is great, but it means a lot more responsibility and being personally accountable for each and every error you make. The following article aims to highlight the 10 biggest errors freelancers make and suggests ways for you to avoid them.

  1. Missing deadlines
  2. Underselling yourself
  3. Letting your marketing go when times are good
  4. Working without a contract
  5. Relying on just a few sources of income
  6. Working with the wrong clients
  7. Doing the bare minimum
  8. Being disorganised
  9. Not paying attention to what your clients say
  10. Letting work take over your life

1. Missing deadlines

Let’s start off with something that’s really simple, but could easily lose you a client if neglected – deadlines. Some freelancers tend to think that sending out their work one or two days later than originally agreed upon will not do much harm. 

In some rare occasions, such an opinion might even be valid – but delivering your work late will certainly have a negative effect on how your clients perceive you. Deadlines are there for you to keep them. If you don’t abide to the initially agreed upon deadline, you will come off as unreliable. And nobody wants to do business with a freelancer who can’t manage their own time and deliver in a timely fashion.

2. Underselling yourself

Not charging enough for your work is one of the most common freelancer mistakes and is often done by freelancers just starting out. While being new and inexperienced should be reflected in your fee, be careful you don’t get used by clients. Being confident in your skills will help you demand your work’s worth.

More experienced freelancers can fall into the trap of underselling themselves as well. That’s why all freelancers should keep an eye on their market segment and be aware of how much the competition charges and how his/her own work stacks up to that of others. 

Being good at what you do deserves proper payment – don’t be afraid to demand it. If you are not sure if your rates are too low, check out this article.

Freelancer Survery 2021 - Beginner Freelancer Mistakes
Freelancer Survery 2021 – Beginner Freelancer Mistakes

3. Letting your marketing go when times are good

Marketing is essential to building up a successful freelancer career. Unfortunately most people tend to neglect it once the contracts start coming in. This is a grave error – marketing should be done at all times, the good or the bad. 

If you only update your professional Facebook page, personal site or blog every time you’re in financial trouble, the time will come when it will have been simply too late. Staying on top of your marketing and being out there at all times, displaying your motivation and skill is of utmost importance.

4. Working without a contract

As a freelancer, a contract is the closest to a hundred percent guarantee that your work does not go unpaid. If a client suddenly decides that they don’t need your services anymore, they should still pay for the services provided so far, even if the project is not completed. 

Aside from making sure a client is legally bound to help you, a contract is a sign of professionalism for those you work with. Having a written agreement will spare you a lot of headache, working without one is not only insecure, but will almost certainly be a negative sign for your clients as well.


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5. Relying on just a few sources of income

Having a few stable clients is great, but a freelancer should be careful to never rely on just a couple of income sources. If you have just two or three big clients, losing one will definitely hurt you a lot; it might even turn into a financial disaster. So try to stay in touch with different companies and don’t forget to always put yourself out there. That will also ensure you have more possibilities when picking out the contracts you actually want to do. 

That being said, don’t spread yourself too thin either. Overextending can lead to you doing mediocre work and not really doing the best for any client, which won’t help either side in the long run.

6. Working with the wrong clients

When times are hard and you really need a contract, neglecting to do research on your client can be tempting, but this one of the biggest freelancer mistakes to exist. Think of the first time you communicate with a potential customer as a two-way interview. You want to make sure those you’re working with are professional and serious about the job they want done. 

If those red flags start popping up and you suspect that a client might delay the payment, try to swindle their way out of it, or is just going to be extremely annoying, give up before it’s too late. 

7. Doing the bare minimum

When you get accustomed to freelancing it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing just enough to get your contracts done. That’s a terrible idea. Don’t forget why you started,. Always try to enjoy what you do and strive for self-improvement. Go that extra step for your client and blow them away, showing your enthusiasm about your work. 

People like seeing extra effort and tend to remember it. Chances are, going the extra mile will land you another contract, be it from the same client or a recommendation they gave.

8. Being disorganised

Running your business by yourself as a freelancer means you have to do everything, especially at the beginning of a career. Keeping everything organised will be immensely helpful if you want to waste less time looking through the piles of paper on your desk and more time on actually building your career. Whether it’s about managing your finances, invoices, job offers or actual work you have to do, being organised will really spare you a lot of time.

9. Not paying attention to what your clients say

Freelancers are experts in their field and understand the job they do much better than any client – after all that’s why they get hired for a contract. But that doesn’t mean you can allow yourself to do whatever you think is best. Paying exact attention to what your client wants is crucial for making sure they’re satisfied with your efforts. Read their emails carefully and listen to what they’re saying. 

You can propose improvements, but never change your client’s plans just because you think you know better. If you don’t listen to your client’s wishes and demands, you might find yourself without a job rather quickly.

10. Letting work take over your life

Finally, try remembering that work isn’t everything. Freelancers, especially those who work from home, could find themselves focusing too much on their job, which usually doesn’t help anyone. Of course, there are those times when you just have to wrap up a project and push yourself to the limit, but if you planned out your work. that can be avoided. 

Relaxing, taking a short break or a vacation every now and then is as important to freelancers as it is to anyone. Unwinding and keeping yourself happy is the best way to assure you stay motivated and reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Are you guilty of making any of these freelancer mistakes? Tell us in the comments below!

Viktor Marinov

Viktor is the voice behind the freelancermap blog. Every week he comes up with helpful hints, checklists, and guides for freelancers and independent workers. If you would like to know how to find remote jobs online or how to niche yourself as a freelancer, don't miss his freelancer tips!

By Viktor Marinov

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