A few weeks ago, we posted a link to an article on InspiredMag, 5 Unforgivable Mistakes in Freelancing which it turned out a lot of people were interested in reading. We have some comments on those mistakes and a few more to add.
- Stubbornness. You know what you’re doing and, rightly, feel that the client should trust you to know how to do it well. However, it is important for your client to both be listened to and feel that he or she has been listened to. You know your business, but he knows his. He really does have insight that you do not. Use your EQ and practice active listening.
- Lying. Oh, dear, no. Transparency is essential. If you make a mistake, let the client know, preferably after you’ve fixed it, of course, or have a good strategy for fixing it if not. When (not if) a client finds out that you have not been truthful, you have lost that client forever and your reputation with their network which could be catastrophic. Owning up to a mistake could lose you a client, but it won’t lose you everyone they’ve ever met.
- Overpricing. Getting a lot of money from a naive client is a short-term benefit with a long-term consequence. That client won’t be a newbie forever. Your bid should be fair and pay you a living wage. Build in the costs of phone calls and meetings and your overhead. Make a profit. But don’t take advantage. Gain a lifetime client, not a one-time windfall.
- Lack of Communication. You don’t want to interrupt your work on your project to send emails, but you need to. Progress reports and check-ins are a way of reminding your client you are on the job and alert to her needs. Give her a chance to ask questions and keep her informed of how the job is coming along and she will support your process.
- Apathy. If you, like me, love freelancing because of the creativity of the work, the flexibility of the schedule, and the control of your life it gives you, keep that love at the front of your mind when you get deep into the weeds of your project. Not every task on every project is creative and stimulating, but keeping your mind on the big picture can keep you motivated, even during the duller stages.
We would like to add a couple more:
- Underpricing. You might be new to freelancing and not know how to price your work or afraid that the client will choose another provider, but you must make sure you are earning enough money for your project that it is worth your time. It’s easy for apathy to set in if you feel underpaid and overworked. As above, do the math and charge what is fair for both you and the client.
- Poor Time Management. Getting the work done is important and so is taking breaks. Especially if you are working on multiple projects, take the time to schedule your day or your week in clear blocks, including time off. It will keep you focused on the task at hand and make sure you take the time to recharge that all creatives need to do their best work.
If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know that I love freelancing for the reasons laid out above. Avoiding these mistakes should help you add success to the list of joys that freelancing can bring!
Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative