Lately I feel like I have become an advocate on what not to do as a freelancer. I have been covering either the negatives of freelancing or other dangers that need to be avoided while freelancing. My intention with these articles is not to scare or divert you away from freelancing, but to make sure you understand that with added luxury and freedom comes certain pitfalls that we all need to be aware of.
Before we go any further, I encourage anyone thinking about freelancing to give it a try. It is one of the best move I have ever made, and I can gladly say I enjoy what I do (and there are thousands of other freelancers who will back me up). Of course, there are some pitfalls that come with freelancing, but what fun would it be without any challenges, right? Below I have outlined five things that I think should be avoided while starting out as a freelancer. Hopefully, you guys agree with me and if you have any suggestions please feel free to add more through your comments.
Don’t Make The Switch
Most freelancers start freelancing part-time and stick with it while holding a full-time job. The key reason for this is to make sure there is a regular income you can count on. However, many freelancers get so excited about “being their own boss” and “choosing their own hours” that they end up making the switch without adequately planning their finances. The first and foremost thing that you shouldn’t do while starting out as a freelancer is quit your day job prematurely. This is one of the most repeated points and the reason is simple: you need to make sure your freelance business can support you before you quit your job. If you are new to freelancing and just starting out, hold on to your day job for months, and in some cases years. Do not quit your day job unless you are 100% sure you can earn a living solely on your freelance income. If you find it difficult to manage, take a look at this article for a few tips for freelancing with a full-time job.
Don’t Give Into Temptation
When you start freelancing you’ll see that there are a lot of temptations to deal with. You might want to setup your home office with new computers and furniture just to make it look cool. Heck, you might be doing it just to get yourself seen on Gizmodo. Whether it’s the new gadgets, thousand dollar ergonomic chair or another monitor, make sure there is a legitimate need before diving into these expenses. Keep those temptations in check, it’s better to hold on to that money just in case your freelancing income takes a nose dive next month. That’s the thing about freelancing, sometimes you never know. Hold on to temptations and spend only on things that are a must for you to run your freelance business. Do not give in.
Don’t Be Too Friendly or Personal
This is another one of those things that many new freelancers get sucked into. A new freelancer usually gets excited when landing their first client and may feel that he/she needs to be extra friendly. Friendly is good, but over friendly isn’t. Many new freelancers get a little too comfortable with their clients and may share personal problems among other things. The client might stay while the contract lasts, but a lack of professionalism may eventually drive them away. As a freelancer, you should be friendly but a relationship is always better as a client and freelancer. Do not wreck the client-freelancer relationship by being too personal.
Don’t Forget To Create a Plan
Just because you will be working from home, setting your own hours, and without anyone to answer to doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan for your business. Many freelancers start out great during their early years as freelancers and then fail later on because they didn’t create a plan. Make sure you have a detailed plan that will give you an idea of how you will grow your freelancing business down the road, how you plan to land new clients, and so on. This is one of those critical things that your freelancing business will depend on. Do not forget to create a plan for your freelancing business. Just like any other businesses, a plan for freelancing is a must.
Do Not Procrastinate
Procrastination is a freelancer’s biggest enemy and should be avoided at any cost. As a freelancer you have the luxury of choosing when and where to work, and although this is one of the best outcomes of freelancing, it can also be one of the biggest challenges. Make sure you stay clear from procrastination. I have personally seen many freelancers lose out on some of the biggest gigs simply because they procrastinated and the job was either not completed on time or was not up to what was promised. Do not procrastinate, and make sure to get ahead in the game by doing things when they needs to be done.
What Else Should New Freelancers Avoid?
These are some of the things that I personally think should be given extra attention when starting a career in freelancing. I would love to hear your thoughts on them, as well as anything you might want to add to the list. Everything you add to this list is another chance at helping a new freelancer succeed.