Five Mistakes All Freelancers Make

Career Advice
02 April 2020 | Career Advice | Guest Author

Freelancing is 'the dream' for a lot of people. Being your own boss. Choosing what hours you work and when you work them. Saying no to any project that doesn't excite you. Fitting your job around your life and not vice versa.  

The flip side is that you have to build your own business with no support from an admin team marketing, or accountancy team or, pretty much, anyone else. You are accountable to no-one but yourself. That is a lot of pressure to suddenly be under.

Whether you are new to the gig economy or have been freelancing for some time, there are mistakes that every freelancer makes. Avoiding making them could ease some of the pressure and help the dream feel real.

1. Not Knowing Your Strengths

With freelancing comes worry and excitement. Both can be blinding. Excited about your new career adventure, you might be inclined to put every skill you think you have up for offer to potential clients. Worrying about how to have a consistent income can have a similar effect. The more you can do the more clients you can please, right? Wrong.

You are, no doubt, incredibly capable and talented. Pegging yourself as a Jack (or Jill) of all trades though can have a damaging impact on your business and reputation. First, it stops you from getting the jobs that are going to the freelancers who are specialising. Think about it, if you wanted a logo designed would you hire the freelancer who is a specialist graphic designer - logo creator or would you hire the one who is an Administrator - Graphic Designer - Data Entry - Copywriter?

2. Not Charging Enough or Charging Too Much

Starting out as a freelancer, one of the hardest decisions you have to make is how much to charge. A common mistake made by freelancers is that they don't work this out early enough and end up charging too little and compromising and allowing clients to haggle them down. Don't cheapen your brand.

Alternatively, you might have started out confident in your worth and have advertised your services high. You have years of experience after all. If this is working for you, kudos. However, if you are new to freelancing and are using an online platform to attract clients then this might get you off to a slow start. 

When a client searches for a freelancer they, mostly, look for a combination of things: relevance, rate, experience, reviews. The first three are in your control, the latter is largely out of your hands. It is also incredibly powerful. By charging a little lower than average, but not too cheap, for the first few months can help you build up reviews. This will make it easier to raise your hourly rate down the line.

3. Taking on too much

You are excited and keen to please. When jobs start coming in and your inbox is filling up with client requests, it can be a bit of a thrill. It confirms that you can make a go of this gigging thing.

David Bussel, a freelance writer at PhD Thesis Writing and Case Study Writing Service, says, "When I started out, I said yes to absolutely every job request that I got. Scared that if I didn't then I might not get any other work. I ended up working crazy hours and missing deadlines. I had to learn to say no.".

Like David, many freelancers are anxious about saying no. It isn't easy, but it is necessary. Missing deadlines means bad reviews, sometimes no payment. Total stress. Too much work can mean working day and night. Probably not what you hoped your flexi-career would be.

4. Not asking questions

Clients communicate in different ways. Some have worked with freelancers before and know what information you need. Others are new to it and a bit scatty with the details. Whichever type you work with, you need to ask questions. "I hired a freelancer to edit and format a report. What they gave me looked spectacular but it wouldn't print properly", recalls Angela Scott, an HR manager at Academized and Paper Fellows. Assume nothing about what your client needs, asking questions will help you meet their real needs better.

5. Not planning 

You wouldn't open a shop without a plan, so why do you think freelancing is different? So many people enter the gig-economy with their reasons and aims stuck firmly in their head. This approach will lead you off course. Grab a pen and make a business plan. Even a basic plan can prevent avoidable mistakes. Work out: 

  • What your strengths are. What is the one thing that you do best that clients will want?
  • Your availability for the year, then check it every month for changes. This identifies holidays and commitments that will prevent you from working. Be sure to communicate that availability to clients in advance. Always but on an out of office for your email and freelance website profiles too.
  • A question checklist. What do you need to know from the client? It could be file format, end-use of a document, brand colours. Check you have everything on your list before starting a job.


Beatrix Potter is a veteran freelancer and marketing consultant at Literature Review Help and Boomessays Review. Bea works with brands to create content that engages with key audiences. View her marketing case studies at Education Essay service.

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