There is a lot of great freelancing advice out there, both on this site and on many others. Anyone who wants to make it as a freelancer has many resources available to help them with what they need to know — everything from dealing with problem clients, to finding them in the first place, to organizing taxes and so on.
In fact, there is so much good advice about what you should be doing that I think it’s helpful to look in the opposite direction — at things that might be holding you back.
In this post, I’ve created a list of 5 big mistakes that could be holding you back from freelance success. Make a little progress with these, and your freelancing will see some definite improvement.
Let’s get started…
Mistake #1 — Not Making The Most Of Your Time
If you find yourself with plenty of spare hours each week and certainly aren’t stretched to get your freelancing tasks done, you’re one of few. For the rest of us however, we only get so much time here and there to ‘do what we do’ and we have to make the most of it.
I’ve been victim to the idea of leaving projects until the last minute and rushing around to get things done, but those days are long gone. You never know when a new project or opportunity is going to come up that will take up your time and if you’re still sitting on a backlog of other work (or other typical life surprises), you may not be able to seize the chance.
Set yourself a schedule for when you will work on your tasks and stick to it. It’s far better to get things out of the way early on then leave them till your last possible opportunity.
Mistake #2 — Holding Limiting Beliefs About Potential
This may sound stupid, but I’m sure some people can relate to my own situation. When I was 17 I was contacted by a large phone manufacturer to help promote their new website blog. They offered me a ton of money (especially for my age) to do the job and whilst I knew I was very capable for the task in hand, I started doubting my own abilities and whether or not I could keep them happy as a client.
Thankfully, things worked out well for me, but that situation still touched upon an important concept: know your worth, and don’t doubt your potential. Limiting beliefs about how much money you can make, how great your finished projects can be and how many clients you can keep a hold of serve you no positive benefits whatsoever.
Limiting beliefs are called limiting for a reason.
Mistake #3 — Casting Your Net Too Wide
I’ve already wrote about this in full detail on another post, but I still think it deserves to be mentioned here. Too many people suffer from the idea that the more they do of this and the more they have of that, the more money and success they can achieve.
Logically, it might make sense, but in theory, it’s not always the best route to take. I had a lot more success in getting clients and making money when I narrowed the services I offered but became a known expert on what I did offer. I narrowed my audience when doing this, but took a bigger share of the market that is out there. Before you start going ‘gung-ho’ for every possible client and service out there, scale back and see how things work out.
Mistake #4 — Always Looking for Shortcuts
I have a friend who runs a very popular blog (where he outsources the writing) which makes him thousands of dollars and a very liveable income each month. The thing is, in looking to grow the blog, he spends absolutely zero time following the fundamentals he used to build the blog in the first place, and spends a lot of his time reading autobiographies of successful people and looking for some ‘trick’ he’s missing.
I’m not saying reading about the success of others’ is bad, but sometimes to take your client base or income to the next level, you just need to keep doing what you’ve been doing. If there are shortcuts which won’t falter the quality of your work then sure, try them, but if you’re looking for ‘tricks’ and ‘secrets’ out of laziness, you’re going to find yourself taking an even longer journey than before.
Mistake #5 — Not Measuring What is Working
Just like it’s possible you may be casting your net too wide and still missing all the fish, there’s also a good chance you’re spending time on things which don’t benefit you at all. Possible examples of this could be writing blog posts, commenting on other sites, participating in forums and battling for jobs on freelance marketplaces.
Some of these might be working and the first three will be great if you’re trying to get your name or brand out there, but how many are really converting into clients? Take some time aside one day to look at the people who are paying for your services and see if you can work out where they found you. If you can’t, it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s possible that only one or two main areas are sending you clients but you’re spending equal time in five.
If that is the case, now you know where to change.
These are just some of the common factors I know have held me back in the past, what others do you know?