Seeing as we are all human(at least everyone reading this post), we should recognize that mistakes happen. It is often said “To err is human” which shows that it is not only common for us to make mistakes, it is rather expected. Making mistakes is one of the major ways we learn and that is how we as humans are built. This is no different for freelancers (as they are humans after all).
There are a few mistakes which are really common among all freelancers, and they should be avoided. Mistakes can cost you clients, and possibly even cause your business to fail.The good news is you don’t have to make those same mistakes, and hopefully you can benefit from this list and some insight from your fellow freelancers.
So here is a list of 6 most common freelance mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Not knowing what to charge or charging too little
This is probably a mistake even experienced freelancers tend to make. Just because someone is ready to give you a project, should you take the up work at below par prices? The answer is straight NO, you should evaluate your skill and understand what is the fair price of your skill in the market, based on what others(having similar level of skill) are charging for the same work. There is no point waging a price war with other freelancers, does good to no one. Always focus on quality than quantity, because in the longer run quality will win hands down.
- Not asking for upfront payment or escrow
Again something which is applicable to all freelancers. You will always find employers reluctant to part away with upfront payment.If you see from their point of view its probably correct as well, no one wants to risk their money, similarly you shouldn’t be risking your work. It’s a very common situation where you will find yourself landing with every new project. The easiest way is to get your Client to make an escrow payment, it makes both the parties remain safe while you complete the work. Learn more about what is escrow.
- Not communicating regularly
A common pitfall of most freelancers. Its a freelancers responsibility to make sure that you have gathered the requirements well from the employers and that you are updating the client on the progress of the work on a daily basis. Most of the conflicts in the projects are caused because of lack of communication. Communicate clearly and regularly to avoid landing up in trouble.
- Not meeting deadlines
You got hired and have started working on a project, you estimated that it will be completed in a specific timeframe, you also provided the Client with timelines for completion of a specific part of the project, now what? Make sure you adhere to those timelines or atleast make sure if a specific deadline is going to be missed, the Client is notified long before. Missing deadlines is a sin if you are to become a really successful freelancer one day. It shows unprofessional-ism on your part as well as doesn’t go well with any employer. The best way to make sure your deadlines hold good, is to always a keep a few extra days or hours assigned to your project.
- Not marketing/branding yourself properly
Most of the freelancers think, I already have a couple of projects for next 4-5 months, what good can marketing do for me? What marketing/branding yourself does is it allows you to take up work you like at rates that you want from Clients, rather than it being the other way around. You should always strive to make yourself more appealing to the clients by marketing/branding yourself. Create a portfolio of your work that does justice to your skill. Make sure you have a Linked In Profile. If possible have a website of your own. If you are writer, keep writing for your personal blog. All these marketing/branding could one day allow you to have your own small business. So don’t forget that and next time you are working on a long project, don’t shut the doors on marketing yourself.
- Not working on building your skills
Freelancers tend to put in a very limited amount of time for building their skills or finding a new skill where they could excel. For eg, a Web Programmer who knows PHP shouldn’t just restrict themselves to that, learning new technology is the way to move forward. You should of course try to find expertise in whatever you are doing, but even for that you will need to build skill set out of your current comfort zone. Always spend a bit of time reading about new things and learning new things on a day to basis. Your next project might just need the skill that you learnt just now to be used along with your existing skill.
What About You?
What sort of freelancing mistakes did you make, is it already on this list? Which one?
Did you make mistakes that we haven’t written about? Share your mistakes in the comments (and tell how you overcame them).