5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Starting Out As A Freelancer

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Author: Tatiana Rivers- Tati Rivs Social Media Marketing

Learn From The Mistakes Of Those Before You

If you are just starting out as a freelancer there is a lot to learn. Freelancing can offer a great lifestyle. You are free to make your own schedule, work from home and decide your own pay. Sounds incredible right? Well, it isn’t all that easy. There is a learning curve in the beginning. Landing those first few clients/ enough clients to make a successful career will take trial and error. There will be mistakes, they are the best way to learn. However, it’s even better if you can learn from other people's mistakes and avoid those pitfalls altogether.

We have put together 5 common mistakes that happen all too often (we know this from experience) and they can make things really hard on you in the beginning. If you can learn from these BEFORE you start freelancing, you will be better off for it.

-You are welcome in advance.

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid

1.You Didn’t Establish Your Rate

The typical scenario for a freelancer starting out is to advertise their skills on the very low end to land some clients (any clients). A few months go by and they are still making that same very low amount. The problem with pricing yourself way too low, is that very soon after you will have to climb out of that hole, because that is not sustainable. You may need to tell your clients that your are doubling your rate (maybe even tripling) which they will not like. To avoid this mistake. Make sure you calculate what your rate should actually be. This rate should be well researched. It should be based on your skill level, your competitors rates, industry standards and also what you need to earn to survive. You can offer a temporary discount in the beginning but make sure your clients know it is temporary. Another way to start testing the waters and building your portfolio is to start sidehustling for a cheaper rate while you hold onto a full time job. When you are ready to go full on, restablish yourself with a proper rate.

2. You Didn’t Make A Contract

You always need a contract. Can’t stress this enough. Even if the job seems so small and simple, make a contract. Do not rely on goodwill or what was said over a skype call. Get it in writing and get it signed. Establish the cost of the project, how long it will take, the milestones required and write it all out. There are hundreds of freelance contract templates to be found online. It isn’t hard to make one and it will help keep your clients honest right from the get go. For more on how to make a contract check out our post on Freelance Contracts 101.

3. You Don’t Know How to Collect Money

First time freelancers often start with side projects that fell onto their laps somehow. They take it on as a hobby or a favour to a friend and don't really think about the payments till later. If you are going to make it as a freelancer, it has to be profitable. Collecting money is part of that equation. Before you even take on your first job, plan a way to charge your clients. Whether it’s PayPal, e-transfer or some other way, having a preferred payment method will keep things organized and running smoothly from day one. Don’t forget about invoicing. The government will also want to know how you are collecting money. Having a system that does both like Freshbooks or Paypal, will make this a lot easier on you.

4. You Don’t Manage Your Time

One of the hardest parts of freelancing, in fact it maybe be THE hardest part, is time management. Traditional offices spaces were designed to keep you focused so that you could manage your time more wisely at work. When you work from home (or a coffee shop) it can be tough to stay on track. There are endless distractions. If you don’t stay on track, bye bye freelance business. Really quickly too. The buck stops with you, so you have to be really good at managing your time. Pull out all the stops, use time management apps, a timer and make lists. Most importantly, stay away from the couch, or worse, your bed. For more tips; check out our blog on Staying Productive When Working From Home.

5. You Don’t Promote Your Services

When you are just starting out as a freelancer, you might be a little shy and don’t feel like you have the confidence to promote yourself. Well, part of the process of landing gigs is to promote yourself, so you will need to get over that pretty quickly or you won’t get any jobs. Freelancing is very competitive and it’s only getting more so. Check out How To Advertise Yourself As A Freelancer.

There you have it! We hope this helps you with your freelancing career. Check out some more of our blog posts here.

How To Start Freelancing With No Experience

How To Make Your First Freelance Portfolio

10 In Demand Jobs Perfect For Freelancers

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Posted in Freelancing For Beginners, Freelancing Tips on Nov 01, 2017

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