We rarely like to admit our mistakes, but if we fail to admit them and learn from them then they’re likely to be repeated. In this article I want to admit some of my mistakes to you, and share my experience so that you can avoid making them.
My journey has taken me from the highs of doing what I love every day to the lows of chasing monthly payments and then back again. To say that my journey has followed the typical freelance rollercoaster would be an understatement.
Making mistakes along the way is a big part of freelancing, though, and I’m sure many of you can relate when I say that these failures and mistakes help to make your business successful and teach you a lot along the way.
Today I want to share four that I’ve personally had to learn to avoid, and it is my hope that in sharing these you can avoid them yourself without having to go through them first.
Mistake #1 — Giving Away Too Much Information
In many areas of freelancing there is the potential to give away too much information. On my path, as an internet marketer, I started out by telling clients exactly what I would do to increase their search engine rankings or get them more social media traffic.
There was a slight dilemma with this situation. Some clients loved the approach, understood that I knew what I was talking about, and requested more of my services. Others, however, took my outline and implemented it themselves or hired someone cheaper to follow it as best as they could. In the end, I decided to give prospects a similar outline, but included far less of the details I had previously been handing out.
If you overstretch to land the client, you might end up giving them all they needed in the first place. This could include sample logos, website templates, scripts, or anything else you’re creating. Definitely give them a taste of what you’re about, but don’t give too much before you land the deal.
Mistake #2 — Leaving Jobs Until the Last Minute
I was 17 when I first started freelancing and, just like I did with my school and college work, I ended up leaving a lot of my jobs until the last possible minute. It’s not that I disliked what I did (unlike college and school work) but more that I didn’t need to do things yet so I didn’t see why I should.
Eventually, of course, this caught up with me. The first place I ran into a problem was when I wanted to go to a party or do something else that happened to be at the end of the month. The second place was when I received extra work from other clients where they offered to pay double to have the work done quickly. If you have the free time to do your work, get on with it. As I’m sure you know, or will quickly find out, it’s far better to have things out of the way than to waste your free time and have a huge backlog to work through later.
Mistake #3 — Wasting Time on Unproductive Work
Just like I would waste my spare time and leave things until the end of the month, I would often spend time working on business activities that just didn’t help my bottom line. I realize now, as I type this, that I’m not painting the best picture of myself (I did change – honest).
I first started doing this because my initial marketing plan was simply to be everywhere at all times. I wanted to cover as much of the relevant web space as possible to try and land new clients. Only later did I realize a lot of these marketing ‘opportunities’ gave me little chance to land my ideal client.
I find it’s a good idea to record every action you take on a typical day (just once) and then review it. You’ll soon find what is working for you and what isn’t.
Mistake #4 — Acting Like Someone I Wasn’t
When I first started out, I never thought anyone would want to hire a 17-year old who was working from their bedroom. Therefore, I kept my age private and I put on what I can only describe as a front. For some reason, I acted and communicated with clients as if I was working in a large corporation.
Of course, I never lied to prospects and said this, but that is the way I was coming across. This front hindered me far more than it helped. It put a wall between myself and the client and we couldn’t really connect. Yet, as soon as I started communicating through my natural voice and in my usual way, I started creating great connections and building my network.
Strong connections are crucial to gaining trust and closing the deal, and pretending to be someone I wasn’t hurt those connections.
Open for Discussion: Let’s be honest, we’ve all made mistakes. What things have you done ‘wrong’ along the way on your freelancing journey? I would love to hear them, and I’m sure your experiences will help other freelancers.