12 Pitfalls Successful Freelancers Must Avoid

These days more people are doing side jobs or working for themselves fulltime than ever before. What many don’t realize is that you are essentially going into business for yourself – and you don’t know what you don’t know about running your own business.

Whether you’re new to freelancing, or have been doing it a while, you can benefit from avoiding these common pitfalls:

1. Working with anyone who asks. Just because someone expresses an interest in hiring you doesn’t mean you should work with them. Pay attention to red flags. Your hesitancy is probably well-founded.
2. Working without a contract. A contract can be a simple list of deliverables you’ve agreed to provide, or a complex, formal document drawn up by an attorney. The point is to spell out expectations, compensation, and deliverables so that there is no room for misunderstanding.
3. Not having clear deliverables. There’s nothing worse than missed or unmet expectations. Be sure to spell out deliverables and get clients to sign off on them. This saves you from doing free consulting when they change their mind mid-stream.
4. Missing deadlines and appointments. This is a trust killer and will get you “fired”. It only takes once to destroy your credibility.
5. Starting work without getting paid first. Set the terms of payment and stick to them. Always get some percent of payment up front.
6. Charging too little. Don’t allow insecurities to keep you from charging the “going rate”. If you want to appease your own conscience, create a “value add” (item or service) but make sure to state what it usually costs, or they won’t appreciate it.
7. Taking on too much work. This is a natural consequence of charging too little. Charge what you’re worth and take on work that you love. Be realistic about your time and be honest with prospects about it. They will want to hire you even more and many will wait! (Good problem to have.)
8. Neglecting marketing when busy fulfilling projects. Marketing is a must-do at all times. Create a marketing plan that you can scale and sustain even when you are busy delivering on current work.
9. Submitting completed work without getting paid first. Once you’ve turned over the finished product, you have no leverage if someone doesn’t pay.
10. Not following up on proposals. Most buying decisions are made after 5-7 follow ups. Most salespeople don’t follow up at all, or only follow up once.
11. Not upselling clients. Find ways to keep in touch with past clients so you can get other work from them. This keeps you top-of-mind when they have another need.
12. Neglecting your finances. In freelancing the buck stops with you, literally. Have budget disciplines in place to safeguard your business. Ask for help from an accountant or coach.

Which one of these is causing you stress? Commit to yourself to make the necessary changes starting today. Everything begins with sales. If you’re serious about freelancing, take a look at my online video training course.

P.S. If you know someone thinking about or already doing freelancing, please forward this to them.