Most freelancers are well aware of the importance of a strong portfolio, worthwhile contacts, and good communication with clients. But there are a lot of other pitfalls that a freelancer can fall into; after all, at times you need to be a good designer, businessperson, and accountant all in one. Make sure your business starts on the right foot by avoiding these five mistakes many beginners make:
1. Working for Free
Be better than spec work.
You may feel tempted to take on speculative work, either as a means to prove yourself, or in hopes of scoring big on a lucrative account. But taking on unpaid work devalues your effort, and puts you in the position to be badly taken advantage of; clients have been known to rip off your designs without giving you the job. Respond to requests for spec work with a firm refusal.
2. Charging Incorrectly
Know your work pace.
Many first-time freelancers are unsure of what they should charge .When you’re pricing out a project, consider how much time it will take, including any research you’ll have to do to accomplish the task at hand. If you’re unsure of how fast you work, try using time-tracking software to gauge your progress and make sure that you’re staying within budget.
Account for other factors.
Decide whether it will be more beneficial to price hourly (usually better for longer projects and indecisive clients) or with a flat rate (often the best for short and sweet projects). Also consider the licensing of your work—the capacity and timeframe that your work will be used in—and budget that into your total figure and for more help budgeting and costing use eCommerce Software.
3. Budgeting Badly
Remember your taxes.
Don’t wait until April rolls around to consider this incredibly important aspect of succeeding as a freelancer. Keep track of your business income and expenses (these can include a lot of things you wouldn’t necessarily think of, like business cards and office supplies). Pay quarterly estimated taxes; not only does this method avoid fees, it also allows you to let go of small chunks of money instead of a huge amount all at once.
4. Trusting Too Much
Always make a contract.
You might assume that your clients plan on treating you fairly and paying you on time. Don’t be rudely awakened, and write up a contract for each job that you take on; that way you’re legally covered should they break your terms.
Guard against late payments.
Many clients don’t mean to take advantage of you, but they might let your payments slip from their minds. To give them a reminder, you should learn how to draft a good invoice that gives them a nudge in the right direction. Take a look at an invoicing guide to get a sense of what to do.
5. Selling Yourself Short
Brag a little!
One of the most difficult things to do when you’re just starting out is talking yourself up in a way that doesn’t feel boastful or overbearing. But most people overcompensate by being too shy. Take some time to identify a few of your best selling points and subtly incorporate them into your emails and proposals. Soon you’ll get more comfortable with calling out your skills, and you’ll notice that people will have more faith in you. Confidence in yourself engenders trust in others, and when you have that, the work will start flowing in.