Mistakes First-Time Freelancers Make (And How To Avoid Them)


Being a freelancer brings so much joy and flexibility to your own time. You’ll be able to choose your working hours, clients, and be able to exercise control over your work. You’ll also be able to sharpen your own skills at will and make your own decisions on income. But if you are just considering launching out, it is important to know that there are mistakes first-time freelancers make, and you must know how to avoid them to avoid crashing.  


Freelancers enjoy so many benefits from their work. And if you are smart enough, you will be able to earn hugely on an hourly basis from your work. But the road isn’t always smooth for first-time freelancers. There are a few freelance professionals who shared their struggles while kicking off early in their careers and we were able to proffer the top mistakes first-time freelancers make. You should follow through to avoid such pitfalls.


1. Poor Planning


While it looks easy and wonderful being a freelancer, it is however very necessary that you plan before kicking off. One huge trap freelancers find themselves in is that they do not put in place a workable routine to organize their work-hours. 


A freelance journalist, Christina revealed how she got caught up in the net over work schedule. She said, “Initially, I was just working ‘when I felt like it.’ Sleeping in, staying up late, skipping meals.” 

It is  very crucial to put in place a working schedule for you, even if you’d get an agency to get that done for you. but not doing that at all is disastrous to you and your work.


Beyond your working hours, you should do a proper setup of a workable system for your freelance business. No doubt, you’d still be required to do some adjustments to your plans as time goes on as most of your initial moves will be largely based on trial and error. However, it is important that you have put in place a workable system that works for your business.


2. Managing Your Clients Poorly


When it comes to working with clients, there are some general principles that you must hold dear to you. The art of managing must be mastered and here are some key things to take note of:

a. Ensure to stay aligned to your business goals.

b. Take red flags from clients that prove difficult or abusive very seriously.

c. Fire clients that should be fired.

d. Do not take feedback personally, only take them gracefully.

ë. Over Communicate


One key error new freelance workers commit with their clients is ‘working with no contract.’ You should create a working contract with your clients that help the, spell out the key term in your business relationships. Be able to make reference to it as a guide during a challenging situation. While it is important to be kind in your relationships with your clients, however, ensure not to skimp on the contracts.


3. Lacking Skills In Business Development


A lot of freelancers do not know how to sell themselves. Check out our post on the 5 Steps To Gaining Financial Freedom. It is very important to know how to sell yourself, as this goes a long way to determine how far you go with your freelance business.


A lot of freelancers get engrossed with what they do that they make little or no effort to sell their work. If you enjoy sorting your bills, then you should reconsider your approach towards ‘sales’ as a freelancer. Every freelancer should have a working project in place that helps them gain and qualify leads.


Be in the constant look-out for opportunities for your business. Build and expand your network. And even if it seems that you’ve already got a full plate on your dinning, you do not know what next economic downturn or pandemic may surface, hence it is important to keep expanding your business.


You may consider building a portfolio which includes references and samples of your work which you’ll readily share with potential clients. Hence, your prospective clients will be able to peruse your past work and make a decision on hiring you. 


4. Having No Solid Success Foundation


One mistake first-time freelancers make is to stretch themselves by taking on too many jobs that they can possibly handle successfully, or committing themselves to work that is not within their expertise. 

Many less experienced freelancers do not put in place a clear scope and expectations for their projects. Deadlines are for the two parties involved – that’s the client and you. So, if you avoid the mistake of not sticking to your lane, overloading yourself, and setting for yourself clear parameters, honestly, you are sure to win big!


5. Not Sailing In Sufficient Funds


Being a freelancer is beautiful, nice, and enviable but not when you aren’t able to sail in enough cash to sustain yourself, and take pleasure in all the lovely benefits that comes with freelancing.


The point is that several freelancers do not put enough focus on the money, and that poses a huge challenge for most first-time freelancers. While the goodies of invoicing may not be received, it is however vital for your business to survive.


Many first-time freelancers make the mistake of charging too little, accept ridiculous pay, and work heavily to satisfy a client. New freelancers often dread beefing up their rates to avoid turning away potential clients. Worse still is the fact that a lot of freelancers do not organize their taxes, and they end up paying heavy late fees and make huge payments of taxes in the long run.


Having the strong mindset with the right tools available, freelancers will be able to secure jobs and projects that pay very well, and are also suitable to their talents and skills while they also meet their tax obligations.


Mistake first-time freelancers make can be avoided in many highlighted ways revealed in the steps. Focus on building a robust relationship with your clients, dig deep into business development, address fiscal realities, and plan your success. There are several things to consider to avoid being ensnared in common freelancing mistakes. 


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