Let’s not gloss over the fact that freelancing is not a get-rich-quick scheme (far from it). You won’t become an overnight millionaire (I wish!). And even though you don’t have to shower before work, you will have to work hard.
And if you’re not careful, you could sabotage your own freelancing success. That’s because freelancing doesn’t come naturally. Just because you’re a brilliant designer or an outstanding writer does not guarantee your success in freelancing.
In fact, many freelancers make big mistakes that prevent them from succeeding in this business. There are ways to avoid the common pitfalls that cause freelancers to fail.
That’s what we’re going to examine in this post.
Are You Sabotaging Your Freelancing Business?
Here’s a list of common ways that freelancers sabotage their own businesses:
- Treating freelancing as a hobby instead of a business. When you don’t have to leave your house, when you can work on your bed, when you can take naps any time at your leisure, it’s easy to think you’re not really working. Or running a business. Problem is, this attitude affects everything, from how you talk to others about your work, to how you manage your resources. If you treat your freelancing as a hobby, you’re not likely to take it seriously and neither will your prospects and clients. You’ll have a hard time charging the rates you want. You may find your income seems to flow through your fingers. You never seem to make enough. Even if you’re freelancing part-time, recognize that it’s a business, and you’re in charge of it. All of it. Like any business, it has many parts. You’re no longer just a designer, writer, coder or whatever. You’re now a financial manager, human resources manager, marketing and sales manager, and operations manager. Your freelancing business has all these different moving parts that need taking care of. So quit playing around and get down to business!
- Trying to target everybody. Another big mistake freelancers make is not choosing the clients they work with. This can happen on many levels. One level is when it comes to targeting prospects. Are you trying to get work from anybody and everybody? If so, you’ll expend plenty of energy, time and money marketing your services and may still end up with bottom feeders. Don’t be afraid to limit your market by focusing on a niche! That said, do make sure the market you choose is: (a) looking for the services you offer; and (b) is willing to pay for them. Another way freelancers make this mistake is when they try to accommodate anyone who shows an interest in their services. Sometimes, certain prospects just don’t feel right. Or maybe this prospect wants you to do something you aren’t completely comfortable with or skilled at. Unless you’re about to die of starvation, just say no to those prospects.
- Not having a marketing plan. Marketing is an area of running a freelance business that doesn’t come naturally to most freelancers. Fortunately, you can learn how to market your business effectively. Sometimes the hurdle is our attitude or fear of promoting ourselves. Marketing may feel slimy or obnoxious. It may make you feel desperate. Or you feel boastful. Whatever the case may be, I highly recommend you read Marketing for Solos or The Wealthy Freelancer to get the basics down. Freelance Folder’s own book, The Unlimited Freelancer, is another great resource.
- Lack of follow up. Another big mistake freelancers make is not following up. This step is necessary in different phases of freelancing, such when: (a) A prospect has shown interest in your services–They may not need you right now, but they may a few months from now. Keep yourself top-of-mind through regular follow-ups. (b) You submitted a proposal–Make sure they received your proposal, for one thing, and that they don’t have critical questions that could make the difference between your proposal getting rejected or accepted. (c) You completed a project–A good follow-up will make sure you get paid on time, help you get referrals from a happy client, and get you more work from the same client.
- Being too casual about finances. I have to admit, this is my weakness too. I simply hate looking at my finances. But the bottom line is, you can’t manage what you don’t see. If we keep our heads in the sand about our finances, we don’t see when we’re spending more than we’re earning. We don’t see what kinds of work and which clients bring in the most income. We won’t know which marketing strategies are working best. We may also miss areas where we can make more, such as by collecting unpaid invoices, or which services we should be charging more for. My advice for myself and for you, if you’re like me, is to get a grip, take a deep breath and take control of finances.
- Thinking you’re not good enough. Some freelancers suffer from the I’m-not-good-enough syndrome. Maybe you don’t have the certification, degrees or experience your competitors have. Maybe you feel that other freelancer is so much better than you. And so you keep your fees low until the time comes when you’re “good enough.” You don’t try to get big projects or those clients you’ve been longing to work with…all because you’re still waiting to get the skills, experience and certifications you think you need to become an A-lister. Well, so what? You don’t have to be the best at what you do to be valuable to your clients. What matters is you know much more about your expertise than your prospects and clients do.
Raise Your Hand If You’re Guilty
Which of these mistakes are you making? What will you do about it? Are there mistakes I left out?
Let me know your thoughts below.
Image by couragextoxlive