When starting as a freelancer, people do everything to make a name for themselves and make more money. It is tough to get projects and clients at first, and as people struggle to get gigs, they overlook some aspects of the business side of freelancing.
People think that freelancing has lesser responsibilities than the regular office job. As a result, freelancers end up making mistakes that cost them a lot. Here are some of the freelancing errors you can avoid.
1. Operating without a Contract
Most freelancers start working without signing a contract. This leaves room for serious misunderstandings. Part of the reason this happens is that the freelancer does not have the time or resources to draft an agreement. It’s at this point that the contract template comes into the picture.
There are online freelancer contract docs, which include all the clauses you need for a freelancer contract. These include the deadlines, number of revisions acceptable, payment details, ownership rights, and expenses. The agreement will protect you from additional costs and ensure you are compensated for extra working hours.
2. Missing Deadlines
Clients set deadlines for a reason, and your punctuality matters. No matter how good your job is, missing a deadline will send you effort and time down the drain. Missing a deadline is a mistake that can be avoided by not taking projects you cannot handle in the given timeline, even when the money is good. You can request additional time upfront, and if the client is unwilling to extend the deadline, let go of the project.
Once you have picked a project to work on, set a deadline tighter than the client’s. If the project is lengthy, divide it into shorter milestones and track your progress using project management tools such as Trello. Do not slack off or get lazy if a project seems easy since timely completion is also dependent on unpredictable external factors. It’s a pity to miss a deadline because you fell ill.
3. Blindly Applying to Projects
Have you ever been stuck working with a difficult client because you did not read the reviews before applying to their project opening? When applying to jobs, you need to check the reviews of other freelancers who have worked with that client before. Applying to any job makes you turn down good projects as you had already taken several quick projects.
Reviews are there to help you avoid clients who will waste your time. Therefore, before considering a job, read what other freelancers say about that client and what the client says about freelancers. Most clients disappear before completion of the projects while others look for excuses to avoid paying.
The scope of the project should guide you when applying for jobs. Do not apply if it is not according to your ethics. It could be a quick one, which is tempting, but is it something you can add to your portfolio?
4. Accepting Underpriced Jobs
Starters have relatively low rates, but this should increase with time as your expertise grows. This should not go on forever. You may go for small paying jobs when you are financially desperate, but their effect on your morale and career is not worth it. At first, it may seem like a quick fix. You may not notice that by working on low paying jobs, you are getting into a vicious circle because they are beneath your skills. Most of these small paying jobs are pretty basic, and won’t add anything to your portfolio or hone your skills.
5. Losing the Work-life Balance
Though the intentions are good, the boundaries between work schedules and personal life should not get blurry. When you start freelancing, you are eager to satisfy your clients, make more money, build a reputation, and get more clients. At first, it will be “just one more project, and I embark on my social life” or “just a few more hours.” You will lose yourself even before you know it. As much as you find comfort in working, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is necessary. Overworking will take a toll on the quality of work you deliver. To avoid it, you can set the number of hours you intend to work in a day, and once you are done, go out for yoga or adopt a hobby.
Freelancers are often faced with many challenges, most of which they can avoid. Regardless of the outcome, always work towards improving your skills and respecting the clients. Do not raise your fees overnight or start doing a sloppy job as you will lose your clients.