Today’s guest post comes to us from far, far away – at least, far away from where I live. This is one of the reasons I accepted Kwame’s post, by the way; he comes from Ghana. Isn’t that cool? What’s also cool are the 10 freelancer mistakes that follow – I bet most people are making at least one of them right now! Enjoy.
Success, as defined by the Cambridge Advanced Learners dictionary, is “the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for”. Freelancers make all sorts of mistakes just to achieve success. Most of the time, these mistakes create lots of problems: financial, health, reputation, and more.
The problem is that many freelancers don’t even know they’re making mistakes with their business – and most of them are avoidable.
Here are ten freelancer mistakes that damage success:
- They can’t fire bad clients: Trying to please a client who seems insatiable is a big mistake. Some clients want the world, but they don’t have the budget for it. Some clients try to dictate, and they don’t listen to advice. If you think a client is giving you trouble (or is going to), fire him politely and quickly. It’s the only way you can focus on other clients who bring you smiles and success.
- They accept more work than they can handle: So you’re working on two projects and five are pending… Why do you need to accept more? When you have several projects on your plate, turn new ones down or let clients know when you’ll be available. Most will wait because they know your potential.
- They work long hours: When you work long hours, you end up creating stress for yourself. You might also be working in haste to get the project complete, which means you deliver less than your best. Know yourself and your schedules. Make a to-do list to help you manage your time. Also, work with your calendar when projects come knocking at your door – don’t just say yes. Plan!
- They don’t upgrade their skills: Freelancers who don’t upgrade their skills get left behind when technology changes. You always need to learn. You can either learn the free way through blogs and online tutorials or pay for courses to upgrade your skills. Check out Education Portal for a selection of writing courses, or if you’re a web developer/designer, check out the Tutsplus network and Lynda.
- They don’t have basic business knowledge: If you’re a freelancer and you don’t know anything about how to run a business, market your services, or manage your finances and client projects, get some basic education. Visit blogs related to small business and freelancing, and soak up everything you can to succeed.
- They don’t get enough rest: Sleep deficit is nearly a disease. It makes freelancers very unproductive, but so many freelancers don’t know this. You don’t have to stay up late to work on projects and it isn’t a badge of honor to shortchange your rest. If you do this regularly, you’ll experience burn-out, lose creativity, make bad decisions and not be able to deliver your best work. Set project deadlines and time-tables that make sure you get rest.
- They can’t take criticism: Drop your ego when it comes to working with other people. People will praise your work, but they’ll also criticize it, so be ready. Many freelancers prepare for praise when they deliver, but when the client isn’t satisfied, they start defending their work. That’ll cost you referrals and new clients. If you can’t accept negative feedback and criticism with a smile, don’t be a freelancer.
- They charge too low for high-end jobs: Most clients want to pay less, not more. If you want to make it as a freelancer, avoid falling into the trap of low wages or letting them haggle you down – unless you only want to add to your experience and money doesn’t matter. If you have excellent set of skills, look at what other premium freelancers charge and set your prices accordingly.
- They accept work they are not qualified to accept:
- They don’t measure their business: Freelancing is a business, and like every business, you need to measure whether your efforts are effective or not. Find out whether your marketing is getting results. Look over your finances for the year – are you breaking even? Measuring your business allows you to make changes that help your business grow. If you don’t measure frequently, you may lose cash through poor marketing, faulty pricing or too many expenses.
Sometimes, freelancers accept work in areas in which they aren’t qualified. Your finished work sucks if you do this, and you’re fooling clients who trust you know what you’re doing. Make sure you have the skills the project requires. When you’re offered a project that needs top skills but yours are only amateur, pass. It’s best to work on projects that fit within the skill set you have.
Here’s a last mistake freelancers often make: they don’t develop relationships with their clients. Clients are the best marketing resource you could ever have, so develop excellent relationships with each of them.
You can do this by performing diligently on your first job and communicating well before, during and after the project is complete. Listen well to what the client wants, and communicate with him each time you complete a step of the project, just to keep him updated.
After projects are complete, follow up with clients and ask how everything turned out in regards to the work you did. Tell them you’ll be at their service if they should need you again. Friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and engage them in conversation once in a while.
What’s the biggest freelancing mistake you ever made? Which mistake are you making right now? What other mistakes have you noticed happening in the freelancing world?
About the Author: Kwame Boame is a marketing consultant who helps small businesses achieve success. He blogs about brand communication at Sociatic.