Freelancing is a challenging business, but to have simple mistakes create problems can be avoided. Everyone makes mistakes. We do and others we know do, so it is not un-common. The best way to deal with mistakes is to try to avoid them in the first place.
OK. So you are thinking “How do I avoid mistakes?” Well; that depends on the mistakes. After doing some research with staff and friends we have compiled a list of the most common (and maybe not so common) mistakes to avoid. Here is a list that should get you started:
- Unorganized. This one can get you into trouble quickly. Loosing paperwork or designs can cost you in time and money, so get organized with your files (either desktop or file cabinet) and be sure everything is marked correctly. This way you will be abler to find things quickly instead of searching through that stack of paper on your desk. Organizing computer files is easy, but it takes a little time and is well worth the effort.
- Time Wasting. This is a real killer that a lot of freelancers are guilty of and don’t even know it. For example, how many times do you search your emails or surf the web not related to a design project? Admit it – probably hours of wasted time. Remember…this is a job and not a hobby you have on the side – unless it really is and you have a ton of money in the bank. Surfing the web should only be for project research and emails should only be checked twice a day unless you are expecting an important one from a client.
- Unprofessionalism. This one is easy. You get up and stroll to your home office desk…check emails and go watch some TV. Of course you are still in your pajamas. Then you grab the laptop and hop on the sofa and do some surfing. This is not something that would happen if you were working in-house for a client. So, why do it at home? You need to get serious about freelancing. If you can’t then you are probably not in the right business. Start by decorating your home office or at least making it look a little professional. Think how you would want it to look if a client suddenly showed up at your door. And by all means get dressed to look like a professional. You may not think it matters, but a lot of research proves it really does. Laziness breeds poor or no work. As any professional and successful freelancer.
- Big Fish. Many freelancers are looking for the big fish for their work while avoiding small ones. Many small clients can easily make up the big one you may not be able to land, so don’t avoid them. A small client can easily become the big one once you get established with them. Do a good job and they will come back with more work.
- Bad Billing Practices. This is a problem with a lot of freelancers. Charging by the hour is the biggest problem. Why? Because you really don’t know how long a project may take and if you say it will take 5 hours and really takes 10 you are in a deficit.
Another area of billing is charging too much or too little. Before committing to a price for your work do some research to see what others in your area are charging. Freelancers in New York make more than ones in Texas. We have a chart on our site or you can go to the Graphics Guild for more information.
- The Yes Word. This can be a problem if you always say yes to a client no matter what the project. You as a freelancer has limitations to the type and amount of work you can do. It is important that when something comes up you are not sure about you say no, but professionally. You can tell the client you will see if you can find the right person to help. Always saying yes will become something the client will expect and be very disappointed when you can’t deliver.
You definitely want to say no if you don’t have the ability to do the work other than just trying to make money. If you can’t do it let the client know and they will respect you better than if you botch the project and loose the client and get a bad rep.
- Not Caring. The one thing that can help you lose clients is not putting out your best work. You may want to rush it so you can go out with your friends or feel it is good enough for that client, but it can cost you in money and clients. When you commit to freelancing friends (and occasionally family) have to wait. As a professional freelancer you always want to do your best work. Big or small client doesn’t matter. This is you and who you are. Are you a great or mediocre designer? You have to decide and change it if it is mediocre.
We are sure you have mistakes you have made and we would like to know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks.