The 10 biggest mistakes a freelancer can make (Part one)

03.09.2015

Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes at one time or another. When it comes down to a business, making mistakes can be costly, particularly as 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. There are mistakes that freelancers, both old and new, tend to make. The following article aims to highlight the 10 biggest errors freelancers make and suggest ways to avoid them.

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 to the company. 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 believe me - nobody wants to do business with a freelancer who can’t manage his own time and deliver in a timely fashion.

2. Underselling yourself
Not charging enough for your work is a mistake often done by freelancers starting out. While being new and inexperienced should be reflected in your fee, be careful to not 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 any freelancer should keep an eye on his market segment and be aware 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 our 4 signs that you are underpricing your freelance services.

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 profession 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 he doesn’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 for you 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.

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 thinly 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.

If you liked the first part of “The 10 biggest mistakes a freelancer can make” make sure to stay tuned next week when we publish the next one in our news section over at www.freelancermap.com and read about another five mistakes you just can’t afford to make as a freelancer and get tips on avoiding them.

Pic: © alphaspirit - Fotolia.com
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