10 Painful Mistakes that Cost You Freelancing Work

Do you know why you lose gigs?

If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t know. The truth is that most freelancers have no idea why they lose a client or why they don’t get a gig.

There are plenty of freelancing mistakes that can cost you work. Happily, most of these mistakes can be avoided.

Making mistakes in the process of finding work can be painful. As freelancers, we count on a steady stream of projects in order to stay afloat. In this post, I’ll list some common mistakes that freelancers frequently make and describe how you can avoid making them yourself.

Avoid These Painful Mistakes

You may never hear back from a prospect about why you didn’t get a gig.

Now, you don’t have to sit around wondering. Below, I’ve listed 10 embarrassing mistakes that can keep a freelancer from getting the work:

  1. A junky portfolio. A substandard portfolio can certainly hold you back. Maybe your samples are too old or don’t highlight skills that are currently in demand. Worse yet, maybe you don’t even have a portfolio. Quick Fix: Check over portfolio to make sure that your best work is represented.
  2. No response. A surprising number of emails about prospective work go unanswered. If the prospect never hears from you, they won’t hire you. A related problem is responding with too little, too late. Quick Fix: Schedule a regular time each day to check and respond to emails. If you will be away (vacation, for example) leave an auto-response.
  3. Typos and other mistakes. Check your website, your samples, and any letters or emails you send out carefully. They should be error free. If these have errors, your prospects may assume you’ll make mistakes in their work. Quick Fix: Review anything that a prospect may see. Repair or remove pieces with mistakes.
  4. No references. Testimonials are a key part of marketing yourself as a freelancer. If no one is willing to say that you did a good job for them, prospects may wonder what’s wrong with you. Quick Fix: Ask a few of your current clients if they would be willing to write a testimonial for you.
  5. You just don’t get it. Your conversation and/or your emails show the client that you don’t really understand the project or the client’s needs. This can happen if you use a canned response. Quick Fix: Listen carefully to what the client says. Customize any email templates that use to communicate with clients before using it.
  6. No sale. You didn’t explain why you are the best for the job. There are thousands of freelancers out there, so to get work you will need to be able to explain why you are the best freelancer for the job. Quick Fix: Take the time to sit down and think about what unique value you bring to your clients.
  7. Social media self sabotage. Clients who hire freelancers are making a big financial investment. They can and do check freelancer’s reputations. Sadly, many freelancers sabotage themselves by being careless. Quick Fix: Review your social media postings from a client’s perspectives. Remove or use privacy setting to block anything that might make you seem unprofessional.
  8. Lack of enthusiasm. Given a choice between hiring two similar freelancers, most clients will hire the freelancer who seems to really want the work. Quick Fix: Be sure to clearly express your interest in the project by using phrases like, “I’m really excited about this opportunity.”
  9. You’re in hiding. There’s no contact information for you anywhere. An active web presence does you no good if no one knows how to get in touch with you. Quick Fix: Add your email information to your website. Make sure social media accounts point to your website.
  10. You struck me the wrong way. This is the personal element that we can’t always control. Perhaps you sounded grumpy or rushed to the client when they talked to you on the phone. Quick Fix: Relax before calling or meeting with any clients face-to-face. Smile when you speak and don’t look at your watch.

Your Turn

Have you made any embarrassing mistakes that cost you the gig? How will you avoid making these mistakes in the future?

Leave your answers in the comments.