For individuals just starting to strike out on your own, this new-found freedom is exhilarating (and a little daunting). While you relish in the chance to set your own hours and be your own boss, freelancers tend to forget that without a company or manager, you pretty much have to be responsible for yourself. This is important in setting your rates, negotiating with clients and finding the discipline to complete assignments on time. If you’re an established freelancer in your field, then these would seem a little familiar.
Here are the key mistakes to avoid and HOW to avoid them in future:
Rookie Mistake #1: Calling Yourself a FreelancerYeap.
We know it is important to keep it simple instead of making up a title such as ‘Visual Aesthetics Specialist’. If you’re a graphic designer and your own boss, you’re a freelance graphic designer. But by doing that, did you know that you’re repelling and/or attracting some groups of clients instead of getting the right ones? Clients tend to perceive ‘freelancers’ in a way that may be damaging to you. It seems like your services are cheap (you can’t spell freelancers without free, amiright?), you are new to the market plus it can also mean that you’re unemployed and in desperate need of a job. Which makes it difficult for you to attract and retain high quality clients..
Sure, times have changed and some of the negative connotations of a freelancer may no longer be there. However, if you’re starting out, pay attention to how you brand yourself (Sheryl Sandberg disagrees). If you stand for something, you are memorable. In the freelancing world, that it a good way to get clients to trust you.
Rookie Mistake #2: Not Selling Yourself
Not the kind where you stand outside a mall and hand out flyers with your number and work details on it. Be smart about selling yourself. Start with your current clients. After finishing an assignment for them, ask for a referral.
The best way to sell yourself is to get your clients to spread the good word about you! Now, there is an art to asking them to do you this favour.
Rookie Mistake #3: Undervaluing Your Services
You may be booking your first gig. Don’t let inexperience guide your rate. There is no best practice for setting your own rates. Some prefer to do it on an hourly basis and some find it easier by charging per project. No matter which method you choose, first calculate your monthly expenses. Think about how many clients you would need to book in order to cover it. After All, people are paying you for your time spent.
Rookie Mistake #4:Assuming You Have an Inferior Position in the Working RelationshipA client just booked you because you have the skills they need. Have some confidence! Just because you don’t have the backing of a large corporation behind your title doesn’t mean that you are inferior to your client. Some freelancers think that way. The working relationship is worse off as freelancers get too afraid to push their viable ideas for the company.
Work WITH your clients. Only when you start doing that, you are not listening and carrying out their suggestions but you are improving on them and adding value. Trust me, your client would rather work with someone like that.
Rookie Mistake # 5: Not Dedicating Time for Skills Upgrading
A happy client is one working with a freelancer who knows their stuff. So keep yourself updated in your field and talk to people to find out their opinion about it.
Here are some tools to help start you off! These are the sites I found useful. (Not a promotional ad, just sharing from experience)
There you have it, rookie mistake to avoid! If you have more tips to share, let me know ! Let’s empower one freelancer at a time :)