Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? Your hours are flexible; no one can tell you what to do or wear. Heck, you can even work in your pyjamas if you so choose. Oh, and the fruits of your labour are your own. This is the good life, right?
Well, it can be. But it’s also hard work. It can also mean a lot of pressure.
It’s also something that can go terribly wrong.
Okay, let’s not get dramatic. You’ve got this. But, it’s essential to prepare for what lies ahead if you choose the life of a freelancer. Thankfully, you’re not the first person to have the bright idea of working for yourself, and you can learn now from the mistakes others have made before you.
So, whatever it is you do as a freelancer, here are ten pitfalls to avoid on your way to success.
1. Mishandling Finances
It doesn’t matter if you’re the best at what you do; if you mishandle your finances as a freelancer, you’re going to crash and burn. Once you’ve said goodbye to a steady wage, it falls on you to keep an eye on your income and expenses and budget accordingly.
Freelancing can be a boom and bust gig type of gig, so you must prepare for the tough times when things are going well. Whether you’re starting out or a ten-year pro, you’ll do well always to keep a cash buffer in place so you can handle your expenses when things fall through. Also, it should go without saying that you need to keep a close eye on your taxes.
2. Accepting Low Pay
You might accept a few low-paying gigs when you first start to get your name out there. However, once established, you need to increase your rates. Unfortunately, many freelancers get stuck accepting lower rates out of fear of losing out on work. Nobody treats them seriously because they don’t treat themselves seriously. Besides, the higher the rates you demand, the less work you have to do to make ends meet. After all, didn’t you get into this to escape the 9-5?
3. Thinking Like an Employee
As an employee, your employer may have paid you to scour emails, talk to Sarah and sit on the john. As a freelancer, you get paid for only one thing: work. It’s not enough to put the same time in as you did before.
If you don’t actively engage with what you’re doing and don’t get results, you probably won’t earn a dime. Always remember, you’re a business now, not an employee.
4. Assuming Your Client Knows The Score
Sending invoices and writing up contracts may soon come like second nature to you. However, such might not be the case for your client. Don’t assume that everyone knows the score. After all, people come to you because they can’t or don’t want to do the job themselves. Also, it’s unlikely that all freelancers in your chosen fieldwork the same way, and this might even be your client’s first time working with a freelancer. So, don’t scare them away. Instead, make sure the process is both easygoing and clear to understand.
It’s a sad irony that many people go freelance to improve their work-life balance, only to end up working more than they did before.
While you might have been the ultimate slacker before, there’s a good chance that running your own business will turn you into a workaholic. Therefore, you must start setting boundaries with not only yourself but with your clients.
Unplugging from work can be difficult in today’s digital world, but don’t feel guilty when you give yourself the weekend. Instead, be clear and confident about your work hours, your clients will respect you and your time more, and your mental and physical health will be better for it.
You might start your freelancing career with a mixture of giddiness and excitement, but at some point, self-doubt will rear its ugly head. Unfortunately, as a freelancer, there’s no one above or around you to validate what you do but yourself. As a result, imposter syndrome can be a common occurrence.
Giving up is the saddest of fates, but it does happen, and it often happens for no other reason than a lack of self-belief. Self-doubt will destroy your business if you let it, so take time for your mental health and allow yourself to find a fresh perspective when things seem gloomy.
7. Not Having Backup
Like it or not the truth is your new freelancing job might fail and without financial backup and life-plan backup you might find yourself losing a lot more than a small amount of income.
8. Thinking in Terms of A – B
It’s no good thinking about starting a job and finishing it. You need to think in terms of stages. Trying to go from A to B will only lead to stress and often failure. But if you break a job up into stages like A, B, C, D and E you will find even the biggest jobs being much easier to handle and finish.
9. Charging Too Much
While most people worry about charging too little for a job charging too much is also something you need to avoid if possible. By knowing your market and the prices others charge should put you in good stead.
10. Not Doing Your Homework
If you haven’t checked out the prices others do jobs for, or the market/work you are about to enter, how can you ever expect to make money from it? You need to know pretty much all the ins and outs of each job and the kind of work it is. It’s all pretty simple really because the more prepared you are the easier it will be to avoid all these ten pitfalls because all freelancing work has a learning curve. But if you work hard and learn from your’s and others’ mistakes, you can achieve your dreams.