April 30, 2014

Common Mistakes that Freelancers Should Avoid

In this world there are two kinds of people: Those who just do what they do and those who are good at doing what they do. We might be quick to define those that are good at doing what they do as successful, yet they may be drowning in piles of unrewarding work, having invested both their time and skill but having little or nothing to show for it. You see, there’s more to having a successful career in freelancing than just being highly skilled in providing the needed service. So what’s the missing ingredient to a successful career in freelancing? Let’s call it a dash of “street smart”.


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image credit: Luigi Mengato

On every career path there are hiccups and when it comes to freelancing, there are common mistakes that can rob you of the title “successful”. If you’re a smart freelancer, then you must be aware of the mistakes to avoid, know how to rectify them if they do happen and keep them from happening again.

These are the 5 common mistakes that most freelancers make.


1. No Written Contract

You should always decide on a contract before starting your freelance work. Sometimes just an

email correspondence is fine, but if the client backs out from his or her end of the bargain, then you’re stuck.

It doesn’t matter how good the client is, it’s always better to have a written and signed contract. The benefit is that you can legally protect yourself and your interests in case of any dispute or issues of non-payment.


2. No Upfront Payment

Trust is a doubtful word in the freelancing industry. Not to take any chances, every freelancer should make it a rule to take a certain percentage of the entire project cost as an advance payment.

New freelancers are often lured with big projects and asked for free work samples, and then such demanding clients vanish into thin air.


3. Not Tracking Your Time

Even for freelancers, time is money. In fact, you charge your client based on the estimation of the time you’ll take to complete the project.

If you do not track your time, you may end up working for extended time and run into loses. Once

you keep track of time and determine to finish the job within the stipulated time, you’ll avoid other

distractions and work more efficiently.


4. Not Accounting for Overheads and Taxes

If there are overhead expenses and you did not consider them while calculating or committing your job rates to the client, you’ll end up cutting into your own profits.

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For example, if you’ll get your payment through PayPal, which will charge you for its service, then you need to include that charge in your billable amount.

Also, as a freelancer, you should remember that you need to pay your own taxes, and you’ve to keep that amount of money separate and not spend it.


5. Not Knowing Self Worth and Taking Any Job

As a freelancer, you should know what your minimum job rates are, and how valuable your skill is considering your experience and expertise.


Never quote a rate below your comfort zone just to please your client. Use decent tactics and

negotiation strategies to convince your client of a quality job with your rates.


Doesn’t matter if you’re a new or experienced freelancer, don’t accept any project from your client without having the full confidence that you’ll be able to complete it.


Remember, select your projects wisely, know when to say no, and make sure that the efforts you make and the time you spend is worth the money.


Watch out for the above and I guarantee you’ll cruise on friendlier waters. Now let’s get successful!


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