You might have decided that freelancing is the way to go for you to earn a living. You are full of confidence and cannot wait to get started earning money as your own boss by working on a freelancer job site. However, while freelancing can be all you thought it would be and you can earn a good living, there are some pitfalls. Here are some of the top mistakes most new freelancers make that you should avoid.
- Don’t spread yourself out too thin:
One of the worst things you can do when trying to build up a portfolio on a freelancer job site is to spread yourself too thin. When starting freelancing you will have to get work. This could be placing bids on jobs offered on sites or you putting up job offers to which people reply.
It can be tempting to take on more than you can handle at one time. Often freelance jobs have a deadline and you should adhere to that deadline. Clients are not going to like it if you keep asking for extensions on the deadline and this is not the way to build up a successful freelancing career.
If you do spread yourself too thin and by some miracle, you manage to juggle the workload, the work you offer might suffer. There is more chance of you making mistakes if you are rushing and juggling three of four projects at the same time. When starting to take on one job at a time and do it to the best of your ability, don’t be tempted to grab as much work as you can.
- Don’t give up your full-time job too soon:
You might have the idea that you are going to join a freelancer job site or a few of them and give up your full-time job. However, do not give up your full-time job too soon.
When starting freelancing it can take time to get your business started. You have to start getting jobs and build up a reputation on the freelance website. Bear in mind that there may be many other people out there offering the same work as you. Buyers can pick and choose and if there are people out there who have been working as a freelancer for years and who have built up a good reputation you may struggle at first.
Remember you have to continue paying your bills. So, continue with your old job while dipping your toes into freelancing, earn money on the side and build up a solid reputation.
- Always be honest:
It can be tempting to embellish a little when selling yourself on a freelancer job site and to potential clients. However, I can tell you now that honesty is the best policy. You might want to promise a potential client that you can deliver all the want in a ridiculous amount of time but in reality, you know full well that it would be impossible.
One thing to remember is that clients are just people, not monsters. If you are asked if you can do something or offer something and you know you can’t, just be honest. Clients will far more appreciate your honesty upfront than you taking on something you know you are going to struggle with and perhaps end up submitting under par work when the deadline comes around.
- Stick to working hours:
It can be tempting to enter into freelance work thinking you can work when you want, take time off when you want and take as many breaks as you want throughout the day. In reality, you do need some semblance of working hours.
Without a regime in place, it can be tempting to break off work for half an hour to eat lunch and this half-hour turns into an hour or more as you get caught up doing something else. Suddenly before you know it that deadline has arrived and you still haven’t completed the project.
When starting on a freelancer job site, more so if you are working from your own home, set out a working schedule. Don’t lounge around in bed and keep hitting snooze, don’t take unscheduled breaks and finish work at a certain time.
It can be all too easy to become complacent when working at home as a freelancer and this is a huge mistake. You can be your own boss, but as the boss, you do have to be strict with yourself.
- Knowing what to charge:
One of the biggest considerations you have to make as a freelancer is deciding what to charge for your services on a freelancer job site. This is one of the biggest mistakes that new freelancers make. If you try charging too much potential clients may overlook you, if you don’t charge enough potential clients may think they will get poor service. Along with this, you might end up working for far less than the minimum wage.
When considering how much to charge for your services you could check around online to find out what freelancers offering similar services charge. You also have to decide whether to charge a one-off sum or charge by the hour.
You should also not be afraid to revise your rates over time and adjust them accordingly.
- Be wary of large fees:
When joining a freelancer job site bear in mind the fees charged. Some websites will charge join a monthly or yearly fee while others will take a percentage of the amount you earn for a project and this can vary greatly. Some are greedier than others and demand higher fees, so always check this before signing up and joining.
Another mistake many new freelancers make is not to look at the small print when signing up to freelance sites. The site may take a percentage of the money you earn on a project and then add other fees on top of that, such as fees to withdraw your earnings to your bank or PayPal account. They may also put a high limit on the least amount you can withdraw.
If you are just starting as a freelancer it is disappointing to earn your first income on a site only to find that the amount you earned doesn’t meet the minimum withdrawal amount and your money is stuck in the site’s bank account until you work on more projects.
You also have to consider PayPal fees if you have a business account with them. Other fees often include exchange fees. For instance, if you are in the UK and work on a freelancer job site that pays in US dollars or Euros you have to consider the charges for exchanging to GBP.