As a beginner freelancer, it’s natural to make mistakes. With plenty of work opportunities out there and a barrage of advice from other freelancers, it’s easy to get confused or overwhelmed.
To help you get started on the right foot, here are 10 common freelancing mistakes that beginners should avoid:
- Overpromising and underdelivering
- Not knowing your worth
- Taking on too much work at once
- Not having a contract
- Failing to manage your time
- Not building relationships
- Not knowing the tax implications
- Not investing in yourself
- Not setting boundaries
- Neglecting your financial health
10 Freelancing Mistakes To Avoid
1. Overpromising & Underdelivering
It’s easy to overpromise when you’re trying to stand out from the competition, but if you can’t deliver on your promises, it will hurt your reputation as a freelancer. Be honest with what you can do and make sure that your deliverables match what you promise.
If you don’t, you’ll quickly lose clients, struggle to garner testimonials, and ultimately not last long in the world of freelancing.
2. Not Knowing Your Worth
Undervaluing yourself is another common mistake beginner freelancers should avoid. Do your research to find out what the standard rates are for the type of work that you’re doing, and don’t let clients lowball you.
Knowing your worth will help you negotiate better deals and make sure that you get paid fairly for your hard work. It will take some time to learn what you’re truly worth, and you’ll likely not be able to charge your dream rates in the beginning, but don’t go so low that it’s unsustainable.
3. Taking On Too Much Work At Once
It’s easy to think that taking on as much work as possible is a good way to make more money, but it can be detrimental in the long run. You risk overworking yourself, not having sufficient time to do all of the tasks properly, and ultimately damaging your reputation.
I have burned out a few times myself, and it’s not fun. More work may equal more money, but there is a limit.
4. Not Having A Contract
It’s essential to have a written contract in place before taking on any freelance work. This document should detail the scope of work, timeline, payment terms, and other important details. Writing up a contract will help protect both you and your clients.
5. Failing To Manage Your Time
One of the biggest myths about freelancing is that it’s easy, and one of the hardest parts about the career path for many is managing your time. Without proper time management skills, it’ll be difficult to stay organized and meet deadlines. Take some time to plan out your day-to-day activities so that you can better manage your workload and make sure everything gets done on time.
6. Not Building Relationships
Networking is an important part of finding freelancing success. Building solid relationships with your clients can help you land more work and referrals. It’s important to cultivate relationships with regular clients, as well as potential ones too.
You can do this by reaching out to them directly, attending networking events, and by using social media.
7. Not Knowing The Tax Implications
Before starting out as a freelancer, make sure that you understand the tax implications associated with running a business. Research what taxes you need to pay and what deductions you can take advantage of before filing your return each year.
This will clearly vary a lot by country, region and state, so don’t get caught out and do this before you start making any money as a freelancer.
8. Not Investing In Yourself
Without proper training or resources, it’ll be difficult for beginners to gain traction as a freelance worker. Invest in yourself by taking classes, attending webinars and workshops, or reading books on freelancing to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices.
Unlike with regular employment, you’ll need to cover the costs of your learning and development. However, there are few better investments than investments in yourself!
9. Not Setting Boundaries
It’s important to set boundaries and establish a healthy work-life balance. Failing to do so can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction with your job. Make sure that you have time for yourself, family, friends, and other activities outside of work.
10. Neglecting Your Financial Health
As a freelancer, it’s vital to keep track of your finances to make sure that you have enough money coming in each month. Set aside part of your income for taxes and savings, create budgets, and manage your cash flow.
Keep track of your income and expenses so that you can fill out your taxes when required, and monitor what you can cut that you don’t need as your business evolves.
My Tips For Beginner Freelancers
Don’t try to take on too many projects at once, as this can easily overwhelm you. Start with smaller tasks and gradually build up your skill set and portfolio.
Get out there and make connections! Join social media groups, attend events, or set up interviews to meet people in the industry. Building relationships will help you find clients and get more work in the future.
It’s important to have specific goals that you can work towards each month or year. This will help keep you motivated. Make sure that they are realistic but challenging enough to push yourself forward.
Working too much can lead to burnout and exhaustion, so make sure you take breaks throughout the day. Take time away from your desk to relax and recharge. This will help improve your productivity in the long run, and make freelancing much more enjoyable.
Invest In Yourself
Spend time learning new skills and investing in resources that can help you succeed as a freelancer. Taking classes, attending webinars or workshops, reading books are all great ways to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices, while also allowing you to learn new skills that you can potentially use to increase your earnings.
Have A Backup Plan
Things don’t always go as planned, and having a backup plan and savings account can help you get through slow periods where you have limited work. Keep track of your finances, create budgets, and manage your cash flow wisely.
As with any career choice, there are lots of common beginner freelancing mistakes. We all make mistakes from time to time, and they give us learning opportunities. But avoiding the ones I’ve mentioned above will make it easier for you to find success faster as a freelancer.
If you’re a freelance writer (or want to become one), check out our guide to beginner freelance writing mistakes to avoid.
Chris is the creator of Freelance Ready. He originally started freelancing (on Fiverr) while at university, writing and editing website content. He created this website to share his freelancing experience and help others on their own self-employed journeys. He is now a freelance SEO consultant and content editor. You can learn more about Chris here.
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