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3 rookie mistakes to avoid when freelancing

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Becoming a freelancer in a gig marketplace is easy. Maximizing your earning power is difficult.

New freelancers are often drawn to the idea of working from home on their own terms and schedule without fully realizing the potential pitfalls. The allure is understandable, more than ever independent contractors are earning substantial livings by capitalizing on skill sets that prove invaluable in a competitive marketplace. As with most task in life, there are lessons to be learned. A good place to start is by avoiding these 3 rookie freelancing mistakes. 

Not Knowing your worth

When starting out, you won’t have the experience, resources or credibility to demand a competitive wage. Even if you do have the know-how, it may take some convincing to get an employer in your corner. Offering a work sample or completing a small part of a job for less than you’re worth, can be an effective way to show your value, then request a higher rate. If you’re worth it, the person who’s paying for your service will know they were getting a discount and accept your higher rate.

The key thing: don’t settle for a low wage for the long haul.

On the other side of things, another freelancing mistake is charging too much for your services. This is a definite client deterrent, especially early on. Keep in mind, you’ll be competing for jobs with others who may be willing to work for less than your bottom line. Although, any credible employer knows that you get what you pay for and will pay more for good work as opposed to less for mediocrity. Another pitfall related to under/over charging is working many small projects for next to nothing. Avoid it, you’ll spread yourself thin. Two mid paying jobs are always better than 4 small ones.




Not acting like a business

Acting like a business means conducting yourself professionally in all aspects of your freelance career. To avoid this rookie freelancing mistake, don’t confuse working for yourself with not working at all. If you treat yourself as a business, employers will take heed. Starting out you won’t have samples of your work, but what’s to keep you from creating a portfolio as if you have been working?  As you do accrue experience, keep samples of all of your past work.

Conducting yourself professionally also means expedient correspondence, staying on top of your finances and keeping all of your freelancer accouterment up to date. Many freelance worker sites, like Upwork and Toptal, stay on top of a lot of these things for you. But it’s no excuse to get lazy, they aren’t your boss… you are. Being able to take professional criticism is also a quintessential freelancer skill. Sometimes a pitfall can turn into a triumph if you handle it well.




Putting all of your eggs in one basket

This may be the biggest freelancing mistake. Most freelancers know how hard it can be to find work. Like with entertainment artist, many of whom also freelance, you should know you’re only as successful as your last job. This is a scary concept to grasp, but the reality is, sometimes when one job ends you won’t have anything else lined up. But you have to be proactive. Freelancers should always be marketing themselves, that way when one job ends you’ll hopefully have another lined up.

You have to plan ahead for the lean times and always keep in the back of your mind that a job could end at any moment. Also, sticking with one employer for too long, though safe, can lead to your downfall. Because you don’t always know exactly what’s going on on their end. Mix things up, learn a new skill and get better at what you already know. Think of it this way, if companies stayed satisfied with where they are, their wells would quickly run dry. They are always looking for additional resources, clients and new venues in which to market themselves. Remember, you’re a business, you should be doing the same.


Image Sources: foureyescommunications.com, civit.it,  linkedin.com,  samedaytranslations.com, philly.com
2 replies
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