When doing anything for the first time, it can be as much about what you should not do as it is about what you should do. Learning from other people’s mistakes and making sure you do not fall into the same pitfalls is imperative. After all, if you can learn from where others have gone wrong instead of making the same areas yourself, you can give yourself the best of success. With that being said, we are going to look at some of the main freelance don’ts you should avoid when starting out.
One of the biggest mistakes that we see a lot of people make is never saying no. when you are first starting out as a freelancer, it can be tempting to say yes to everything. After all, you do not want to miss out on any opportunities. However, if you say yes to everything, you will find yourself working on projects that simply are not profitable and take up too much of your time to be worth it. If you are questioning whether a client is worth it, you probably don’t need that client, so cut your losses and move on to better things.
Another mistake that we see a lot of people make when freelancing is trying to work while they are in bed or while watching television. A lot of people think that this is a major benefit associated with working from home. In fact, it is simply a major trap. If you work in bed or while watching television, you are never going to be productive. You will only end up costing yourself tons of money because your productivity levels will end up being low to the point where you are not making any money.
The final piece of advice that we have for when it comes to freelancing don'ts is to avoid overestimating. A lot of freelancers fall into the trap of over promising and under delivering, especially when it comes to deadlines. While it can be tempting to give short deadlines to try and secure work, it is always better to give yourself a bit of space in case anything goes wrong. If you then end up delivering the work sooner, you will leave the client impressed, so it can only be a good thing. As time goes on, you'll master your schedule.
Unfortunately, business books love these “Before You Start a Business” checklists, and most of the things on the list will only slow you down. We compiled some of these items below, and all of them are from real business books. Take a look at this list. How many of these were you thinking about doing when you decided to start freelancing? How many of them are really necessary for you to get started today?
– Registering a DBA (Doing Business As) name
– An EIN (Employee Identification Number), unless you’re a partnership/corporation
– Business cards
– Incorporation or an LLC. It’s rare that you’ll need to do this before you begin, unless you’re in a high-risk field. Otherwise, save it for later.
– A website, hosting, domains
– Office supplies
– Designed materials (reports, stationery, mail)
– Printers, fax machines, scanners
– An email byline / signature
– A brand / mission statement. You don’t have a company yet. What are you thinking about branding for?
– A fancy portfolio. Usually, any collection of work experience is more than enough to get started. Worry about making it fancy later.
– A business email address
– A business bank account / credit cards
– An “About” biography
– Press kits
– Invoice templates
– Search engine optimization
– Updating your LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter
– Signing up for business newsletters or industry blogs. These are a huge timesink and should only be consumed during free time.
– A business phone number
Final word: If you really want to do any of these, that’s totally cool. There’s nothing wrong with wanting business cards. Just don’t get these things confused with your top priority, which is getting clients and making money!
So there you have it: some of the major freelancing don’ts when it comes to starting off in this industry. If you can avoid the errors that have been mentioned above, you can give yourself a much greater chance of success. However, if you do end up making a mistake, it is important not to beat yourself up about it. We all make mistakes on our journey to success. Rather than dwelling on the negative, you should look at the positive and figure out where you went wrong. If you can view every mistake as a learning lesson, you will stand yourself in great stead for your future as a freelancer.