A freelancing career can offer you numerous benefits over salaried employment. However, a rewarding freelancing career requires hard work and commitment. It also requires that you avoid certain mishaps.
Below are 21 mishaps that will surely destroy your freelancing career:
- Having unclear goals
Clearly define what a successful freelancing career means to you. Outline the reasons that make you believe that a freelancing career is ideal for you. Set goals to help you enhance your skills and also goals financial goals.
One freelancer’s goals may be different from another. The important thing is to set goals that resonate with you. Your goals should be realistic, measurable and achievable.
- Lack of budgeting
Freelancing career is characterized by seasons of feast or famine. At one point you may have plenty of work hence a lot of income yet at another point there can be no work as all hence no income. This can cause you to give up on a freelancing career and cause you to go back to a salaried job.
Carefully plan your finances. Budget your income so that it effectively caters for you in both the low and the high seasons.
For appropriate and practical budgeting, determine your needs and wants. Give priority to the needs and cut out expenditures on the wants.
You must draw a clear line between business funds and personal funds and avoid any mix up in expenditure.
- Failure to effectively organize invoices and receipts
Your freelancing career is like a business. As such, you need to carefully prepare your records for accounting purposes and to enable you track your goals.
It is recommendable that you start on the filling system as soon as possible to avoid piling up and confusion. Choose a system that you find most appropriate for you.
- Failure to keep a logbook or log file
A properly kept and updated logbook makes it easier for you to file for taxes. It is not always easy to recall what a given receipt is for especially if you are handling a lot of them. Catalogue each receipt probably in your files. In addition, you could scribble in your planner details for a give receipt or use a spreadsheet to add notes for receipts.
- Not Saving
Besides budgeting, saving is essential for a freelancer. Considering the highs and lows of a freelancing career, you want to have enough resources to sustain you in low seasons.
Essentially you should save up 3-6 months of operating expenses such as rent, food, debt payments, and insurance payments. Freelancers supporting a family should consider having at least 6 months operating costs savings.
- Not learning other skills
Although most freelancers mainly earn from their main skill, it is important that you learn multiple skills. This can help you especially during the famine season when you cannot make money from your main skill.
Learning other skills, allows you to offer an array of services to a single client hence enabling you to earn more from a particular job. In addition, during recession, you can get a job on your other skill.
Ideally, focus on polishing up your main skill and also work on learning other skills.
- Failure to invest
Investment is essential for building up your income reserves. You could invest for the purposes of building on an emergency kitty, saving up for vacation, investing for retirement or for a career change.
Consider both long-term and short-term reinvestment options. You should have both liquid and non liquid investments. Liquid investments are crucial as they guarantee immediate access to the money when you need it while still earning you optimal interest.
- Failure to reinvest in the freelance career
Whether it is through courses, better software and hardware or skill you need to constantly improve your freelancing career. Taking courses and taking time to build on your skills enables you to deliver services effectively hence you are able to retain clients and negotiate for better compensation. You can also acquire better software and technological hardware that enhance quality and efficiency in your service delivery.
- Sounding needy to clients
It is easier to find work when you are not sounding needy to clients. This is because; you are able to make realistic pitches. However, when you are sounding needy and desperate, you can come across as a scam. Ironically, freelancers who are casual and indifferent without sounding rude often win the contract.
- Not seeking support
Building a freelancing career especially for a beginner can be emotionally deterring. Think of all the cold calls and emails that go without response, rejections or delayed payments. All these can be a source for emotional turmoil hence the need to seek support. Do not allow the downtime to get the better of you; seek support. You could join freelancers’ social networking online forums or talk to a person who has been there for encouragement and motivation.
- Burn outs
Freelancers often work for long hours. This can be attributed to the special significance that time gains when you start working for yourself. For instance, if you are paid per hour you may want to put in extra time so that you make a little bit more. This can often lead to burn outs.
Burnouts will cost you productivity, health and other important things in life such as family and friends. In fact, working while exhausted results to you doing less work of lower quality.
Instead, consider planning your time to include break times, time for relaxation and also time spent with family and friends. You could also consider taking time off as a reward to the time and energy you put in.
- Seeking low compensation
Charging too little can cause you to work for long hours to reach your target. Thoroughly research your niche market to determine fair compensation rates. Apply the new charges to new clients and in case of a repeat client, charge them the new charges too.
- Taking up a lot of work
The problem with taking too much work is that you will end up either delivering low quality work you or not meeting the deadlines. This could cost you a client or even payment on the job. Besides, you will have to work for many hours which could lead to extreme exhaustion.
Avoid taking up too much work as this can deter your reputation if you do not deliver appropriately.
- Poor time management
Whether you are working on an hourly basis or per project, proper time management is crucial in either case. Keep track of your time to ensure appropriate compensation for hourly-basis project. Also, keep track of time on your projects to ensure they are completed on time.
- Failure to ask for a deposit amount on a project.
Deposits are an assurance that the client is committed to the project at hand. The last thing you want is to complete an entire project and a client fails to pay
Ask for an upfront deposit for the project, At least a 10%deposit. It is a great idea to seek payment upon completion of every phase of the project. The amount charged for every phase depends on the size of the phase in question. This ensures that in case anything goes wrong, and then you will have received part of the compensation.
Well, if you know a client well and he/she has a great track record in settling their accounts on time, then you can work out a reasonable payment plan.
- Poor negotiating skills
Negotiation is a crucial skill for a freelancing career especially when quoting a compensation amount or seeking to increase your rates for older clients. With proper negotiation skill you will be able to get higher compensation rates and also win new contracts at a reasonable compensation rate.
Proper negotiation requires confidence and appropriate language. Avoid sounding desperate, needy or using negative vocabulary. An indifferent but professional attitude is great when negotiating.
- Not seeking clarification
Keep in mind that every work you do is to satisfy a client’s needs. Therefore, if there are unclear instructions on a given project, seek clarification from the client before starting out on the job. Otherwise, this could lead to rejection of the work or you would have to re do it.
- Being too fussy
As a freelancer, there is more to work than money. It is wise to consider taking up a project that you enjoy and that is long-term for a little less pay. Just ensure that the terms and compensation rates are reasonable.
No matter how angry you are, never vent out to a client or at least not aggressively. Present your complaints and concerns to the client in a sober and professional attitude.
- Failure to consider and apply the 80/20 rule
The Pareto Principle states that 80% results are as a result of 20% cause. A practical application to freelancing career is that you will most likely receive 80% revenue from 20% of you clients. Also, 80% of your revenues are earned from 20% of your skills.
This is to mean that, if you can focus on your main skill and you best clients then you can successfully sustain your career. However, this is not to mean that you neglect the rest as they could come in handy especially during recession.
- Not asking for referrals and testimonials
A sure way to build your client base is through your existing clients and testimonials. Clients who are satisfied with your service delivery will be more than willing to refer you to their fellow business owners or write a good testimonial for you. This goes a long way in building your reputation and personal brand and consequently getting you more clients.
- Not having a backup system/plan
Power shortages or computer breakdowns could cost your dearly. Ensure you have a back up for power shortages, poor internet connections and data storage. This ensures that in any eventualities you are able to deliver to the client on time.
After going through this list, find out the things you are doing wrong and amend those before it’s too late.