5 Common Mistakes Freelancers Make When Starting Out

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Freelance is becoming increasingly popular for many people seeking more work-life balance and to be their boss. More people are ditching full-time employment for freelance jobs because they want control over their earnings and flexibility associated with the venture. A 2020 survey reveals that more than one-third of employed Americans are freelancing, contributing $ 1.2 trillion to the economy.

However, the transition from full-time to contractual work is not always smooth. Many people take a lot for granted, landing themselves in a pickle. Knowing some potential pitfalls helps you minimize the potential challenges and ensure the transition is a sustainable & successful one.

There are common mistakes you can avoid with proper planning and strategic transitioning, including:

1. Not Defining Goals

Having goals for any venture determines its success. Freelancing is a business like any other, needing goals to focus efforts and measure achievements later. Have objectives for your freelance career in place from the beginning.

The goals can be financial, lifestyle, project, or other that form the reason for your freelance work. Be sure you have a list of short and long-term goals prepared to keep everything in perspective and focused.

Your goals should be realistic and attainable. Have a balance between not setting goals that are too ambitious, discouraging you along the way, or too moderate, disabling you from reaching your full potential. Without goals, you will be easily distracted and probably lose interest in the venture before any meaningful outcomes.

2. Jumping in Too Quick

Freelance work is highly spoken of by many people and may give the impression of a smooth sailing journey. In reality, the venture is lucrative, but as a beginner, you will need to put in some effort & sacrifices before harnessing the opportunities.

Do not quit your full-time job too quickly without accumulating savings to support yourself or your dependents. Freelancers do not have a steady income, especially when starting, so ensure adequate reserves to sustain you until you build your business.

To enhance your success, reflect on what type of clients you want and what projects you want to take on. There should be some plan in place before you begin. For a smoother transition and to allow you adequate time for pre-planning, consider freelancing on a part-time basis before jumping in fully.

3. Bidding Too High or Too Low

Figuring out your rate is a challenge many freelancers face in the beginning. There are pitfalls of pricing yourself out of the market because your fee is too high or too low. There is no one sure approach to a bidding price because professions vary in value and expectations.

It will take some trial and error before you get your pricing right. Many factors determine how much you can charge, e.g., competency level, experience, academic qualifications, etc. However, it is always better to start too low rather than too high.

Frequently adjust your fees, and eventually, you will find a perfect fit in the long run. Make sure you set a liveable rate for yourself with a feasible workload for your life. With time, when you grow your portfolio, you will be able to charge the price of what your services are worth.

4. Not Having a Contract in Place

A contract defines client expectations and compensation for your services after successful delivery. Without a written agreement, you rely on goodwill for fulfilling obligations by both parties. The arrangement may work in particular circumstances but can also go wrong, leaving you no recourse in the absence of a contract.

Have a contract with every client to assure yourself of payment, and your tasks stay within the scope of work. Many freelance platforms will make the contracts for you and handle payment collection.

The platforms typically take a percentage from each contract you get through them. Your earnings may reduce because of the charges but using the approach is a great way to establish client relationships and access work, especially at the beginning.

5. Getting Off Track

As a beginner in freelancing, you may get discouraged when things are not moving as fast as you want them to gain traction. It is tempting to divert your attention to other ventures getting you off track. However, this works to your disadvantage because you will expend more effort to get back on.

Stay focused on the goals you set at the start and consistently pursue your venture. It can also be tempting to take on jobs you don’t want when business is slow. Bear in mind that you compromise the successful completion of a job when you take on one that you are not competent in or are disinterested in doing.

You then dent a reputation you are just starting to develop. Try to hold out for jobs that are right for you. Freelance jobs are massive, and you only need to know where to look and access jobs that are a perfect fit.

Avoid Mistakes and Thrive in Freelancing

Freelancing can launch you into an exciting and lucrative career with the bonus of having flexibility in your life. You only need to avoid pitfalls that can cause your endeavor to flop before takeoff. Once you have some fundamentals right, keep on track, and you will soon be celebrating big wins in freelancing.

Photo by RF._.studio

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