If you were looking for ways to make money online – freelancing was probably one of the most recommended ways.
There is no one way to become a freelancer. You just have to jump into it – so there are dozens of ways. But are you worried that you might be making some of the most common mistakes made by freelancers?
With about 3 years of freelancing experience – in this post, I will focus on some of the things I wish I knew when I was starting out.
Most of you have a reason for becoming a freelance writer – whether it is to earn a bit more money on the side or make your money online full-time.
Even though jumping into freelancing is easy – it’s a long-term journey that might not always be easy.
Keep on reading to find out the most common mistakes made by freelancers – so you know exactly how to improve your skills, make more money, and most importantly – have a steady stream income from your clients.
Most Common Mistakes Made by Freelancers (Avoid Them!)
1. Not Having a Financial Goal in Mind
Some people decide to become a freelancer to supplement their income – but others decide to use it as a way to make a full-time income.
Whatever your reason for becoming a freelancer is – you should always have a financial goal in mind.
Because we all have bills to pay. If not bills, then we have hundreds of different ways in our mind to spend the extra money on.
But having a financial goal in mind is very important. If you don’t have one – you might end up working a lot for very little which could lead to other problems down your freelancing journey.
How much money do you need to make on a monthly basis so you can “survive” or even better yet, live comfortably without worrying about your finances?
This financial goal will help you determine your rates and prices so you can get paid accordingly to your skill level and still make a living by freelancing.
2. Struggling to Get Work when Starting out With “No Samples”
Every new freelancer will struggle to get their first client. The beginning is the hardest and it might even take some time so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
But every successful freelance has been in your position once. And for every one of the successful freelancers out there – there are a dozen freelancers who are quitting.
Everyone who dips their toes into freelancing, registers on one of the freelancing platforms available, applies to a couple of jobs, and waits are not doing enough.
It might seem like you’re doing enough – but sorry to say this to you, you’re not doing enough.
No one has samples and it can seem like you can’t land a client at all without samples. And if you have no clients, you have no samples, right?
You can create your own samples or even offer your skills for free to get some samples. It’s important to create your portfolio, create samples, and start putting yourself out there!
3. Not Getting Paid What You’re Worth
Landing your first client is an incredible feeling – and almost every freelancer who I know got paid peanuts in the beginning.
That’s how everyone starts, practices, and gets better, right?
That’s correct – however, some freelancers get stuck in this loop and end up making decent money but in return for doing a lot of work. Also working more hours than they should.
This only leads to getting burned out of working and going back to 9-5 which might seem a lot simpler version of freelancing at this point.
What is your rate?
Many freelancers have a hard time determining their rate – but it’s the most important factor to decide when you’re starting out.
Are you still struggling to find out your rate?
How to Determine Your Rate
Here’s a simple way to do it:
- Decide how much money you need to make in a month – Let’s say $3000
- Decide how many days will you work in the month – Let’s say I work every day
- Decide how many hours will you work in a day – Let’s say I work 5 hours a day
- Calculate your hourly rate by following this formula – This comes out as $20/hour – $100/day – $3000/month
- Learn to judge how long will every one of the tasks you do for clients take – It takes me 3 hours to write a 2,000 blog post and fully optimize
- Set your rate accordingly per project so you get paid your wanted hourly rate – So let’s say I would charge $40 for the previously mentioned task
This is a simple way to determine the minimum of money you need to make in order to meet your monthly financial goal without working many hours than you would want.
Of course, some tasks will require less time and you will have to charge less for them – but some tasks will take longer and you could charge even twice the minimum rate you need.
For example, for writing a 2,000-word blog post with optimization included – I would definitely ask more than $40 for it. And what does this tell you?
It tells you that I would be making a lot more than $3000/month if I had at least a couple of regular clients who are willing to pay my rate in return for my skills, expertise, and value I provide.
Also, don’t forget to include the time you spend marketing your business, finding clients, doing revisions, or simply doing invoicing after the project is done. As a freelancer who is offering a service – you are a business. And as with any other business, you can’t afford to work for free – even if you’re working for yourself.
4. Not Every Client is a Good Client
Let’s face the truth – not every client will be willing to pay your rate. Many clients that are looking to outsource a task will be focused on not spending too much money instead of getting the best value & service they’re hiring.
Therefore, not everyone client is a good client. And not every job you score as a freelancer will be the same. You might not want to lower your rate for some tasks that you know will be hard. But you might be willing to lower your rate for tasks that you will enjoy doing, right?
Some clients might negotiate with you to lower your rate and yet end up consuming a lot of your time on top of the time you spend working on their tasks.
Would you rather be earning $3000 from clients who are easy-going and don’t consume too much of your time – or you’d rather make $4500 from clients who will make you double the time you work in a month?
The point is – don’t always go for the money. Value your time and value your skills. You’re a business and you should put your needs first.
While it might be tempting to work with any client that is willing to offer you some work – later on, you will have to sift through your clients because there are only 24 hours in a day and you want to work with your best clients.
5. Not Working on Your Negotiation Skills
Did you notice how I mentioned that clients will try to negotiate with you to lower your rate?
That will happen a lot!
While some freelancers might not find it as a big deal – others might find it offensive.
There are two ways to go about this – either stick to your rates and be firm or negotiate if you think that this wouldn’t harm your business.
Regardless of whether you’re negotiating your rate with potential clients or not – I think that every freelancer should improve their negotiation skills.
Everything you do might be a negotiation, without you even realizing it. It is something that will help you get to where you want to be by resolving any issues that come between you and your goal.
6. Thinking You’re Not Good Enough
If you’ve ever thought – freelancing isn’t for me, you’re not the only one. It’s very common for freelancers to doubt themselves, but let me tell you one thing.
Comparing yourself with other freelancers isn’t going to help. Whenever you think you are not good enough – try to think about why are these thoughts popping up in your head.
You can’t land a client? Maybe you aren’t happy with what you’re being paid? You are not happy with your portfolio or you think that you’re not a good service provider in general?
These are all things that you might be feeling. On the bright side, these are the things you can work on and improve for better.
It’s important to know that you can’t become a successful freelancer overnight. It’s funny how this works, right?
You can decide to become freelance and just jump into it – but you can’t become successful at it overnight no matter your previous experience or knowledge.
It’s okay to have bad thoughts and feel sad, but always keep in mind that no matter what is bothering you – things can be improved and changed for better with a bit of work and consistency.
7. Not Developing Your Skills Further
Perfection isn’t possible and that’s why I think that there’s always more room to improve. You shouldn’t aim for perfection, but you should be willing to learn more and improve your existing skills.
Because the better you are at doing something – the higher your rate can be. Right?
Not many clients are willing to pay an asking rate of a new freelancer. But someone with samples, accomplishments, a lot of knowledge, and a few negotiation skills – you can set your rate as high as you wish and still get clients who will need your services.
It’s important to aim high and try to become an authority within your niche as this will always pay higher. And why is this important?
Because one of the biggest benefits of being a freelancer is that you get to set your own rates. There is no cap on the earnings you can make!
8. Not Updating Your Portfolio
With the amount of technology we have available – you can make your portfolio in less than 10 minutes.
All you need is an attractive homepage, neat navigation, about-me & contact-me pages, and samples to start out with.
But once you create your portfolio, don’t forget to update it once you start working with clients. You can always ask for a recommendation from an existing client and post it to your portfolio.
As your skills improve, you can always improve your samples. You can expand your portfolio to add packages & offer deals.
No matter what you do – don’t set your portfolio & then forget about it. Instead, try updating it every month in the beginning, and once you’re really sure that it’s all set up – update it every couple of months.
9. Not Offering That Extra Value
If you’re a freelancer who is trying to do a thing that hundreds of thousands of other freelancers are offering – you will have many competitors.
But what if you could think of other skills you possess that are related to the main skill you’re offering?
This means that you could end up offering package deals and help clients in the long run – which they’ll appreciate.
Everyone likes getting something extra on top of the deal, right?
For example, if you are a writer who can write quality blog posts and you know basic SEO – you could offer content writing services and let clients know that you will also be able to optimize their blog posts for keywords.
This is something that won’t take you a lot of your time and yet your clients will appreciate it.
10. Not Marketing Yourself Enough
Being a freelancer has many benefits. You can work for yourself, choose your clients, set your rates, and even take days off whenever you want.
But not many people will tell you this.
Freelancing requires you to constantly market yourself and search for clients. That’s right – it isn’t a process you do once when you’re starting out.
You do it when you’re starting out – and then you still continue to expand your client base. You have enough clients and you are happy with them?
You still continue looking for more clients. Why?
Because you don’t want to rely on only a couple of clients – especially a couple of clients who make up the most of your income.
You want to create a sustainable income stream and this only happens if you have a steady workflow from multiple clients.
Of course, once you get a decent number of clients, you start networking and meeting potential clients or leads in the industry – your freelancing business wouldn’t fail if you stopped looking for clients for a week, two, or even a month.
However, if your workflow slows down – this also means your income stream will experience a drop since you won’t have new clients to fill in your schedule.
Freelancing is awesome. It has definitely changed my life. But it’s also hard work. It takes a lot of effort, time, dedication, motivation, and skills to survive.
A lot of people are afraid of the uncertainty that freelancing brings. However, I am most afraid of myself not being productive enough. That’s why I always keep myself accountable.
When everything relies on you – you have to make things happen. You can take two days off – but if you haven’t produced any work in those two days, you will notice this in your income statement at the end of the month.
But you shouldn’t worry about the obstacles you come across. As long as you are doing things that will keep you moving forward – you’re on the right path.
However, you should also make your decisions wisely. This post will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes made by freelancers.
But if you’d like to learn more about freelancing and learn how you can get started freelancing today – check out my other posts!