Freelancing: 11 traps to avoid at all costs
As a freelancer, whether you're just starting out or already have some experience, some mistakes must be avoided at all costs, to avoid risking your business activity. It is important to learn how to act and think like a freelancer! We've come up with a few tips to avoid some of the most dangerous traps...
1. Comparing yourself to and competing with the "enterprise"
One of the most important steps before embarking on the freelance journey is to learn what this entails. That means understanding what your freelance status means, what it demands of you and what it allows you to do. You're a freelancer, not an employeer, not are you a business in your own right, either. Your entire strategy must be guided by this simple fact. Hence, comparing yourself to societies or competing with them is not advisable.
2. Wanting to do everything immediately
There are many freelancers who start out with full confidence after signing up on dozens of freelancer platforms, a number of social networks, have made their own website and portfolio and believe that clients will come rolling in. Unfortunately, they are often dissapointed when results don't get in. This is because although being visible everywhere is a good thing, it shouldn't be the unique goal. The important thing to think about is to know how to use every tool in a considered way.
3. Not marketing your services
All freelancers need to be capable of marketing their services. You must make yourself visible in a way that is tailored to your business. More generally, you need to explain to your potential clients what your work entails and what might be useful to them. More specifically, you need to demonstrate the value that you add to each and every client. Everything must be coherent, justified, and justifiable: the prices that you set, the methods that you adopt, and so on.
4. Not being selective about your clients
This is one of the traps that many freelancers fall into without even realizing! There is a tendency to accept any job, especially at the beginning, due to a fear of missing out on work. However, this is a mistake. Indeed, many contracts are underpaid. One significant reason is the prices set by some contractors who are based in countries where the cost of living is much lower than in the West. You need to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and politely turn down offers that are too low.
5. Not negotiating
Related to the previous trap: the challenge of negotiating. Negotiating is a skill to be learned! It is fundamental to know how to debate, while maintaining your tact and diplomacy (which are essential to freelancers!) If your marketing strategy is smooth and skillful, and you can justify your negotiating stance, there is no reason why you should not succeed!
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6. Not knowing your rights, or not asserting them
Becoming a freelancer involves assuming the responsibilities that come with the role, but it also means having rights - and being capable of asserting them. Moreover, as a freelancer, it is important to deal with your clients on an equal footing. No one is anyone's boss. The aim is a collaborative approach, built on partnership, to complete a project. You have the right to expect appropriate rates, reasonable deadlines, and a friendly working environment!
7. Skipping the contract stage
Moreover, one of the rights referred to above is the right to a suitable contract. It is not recommended that you start work without a signature and/or an advance payment. There are plenty of people who are owed money... Obviously this trap affects some freelancers more than others (those who need to create trial samples, for instance). To manage issues of this kind with more confidence, we recommend that you read our article which explains how to deal with overdue invoices.
8. Never increasing your prices
The question of rates is undoubtedly one of the hardest that freelancers have to deal with. Just setting them in the first place is complicated enough; raising your rates is even more challenging. However, it is something that must be done as you progress through your career, with greater specialization, increased experience, and lifelong learning. As is often the case, it is important to set rates that are both justified and justifiable.
9. Neglecting to plan your time
Once again, this is one of the mistakes that beginners (and others) often make: ignoring the task of maintaining a schedule. When you're struggling to get your career off the ground (like all freelancers do), it is difficult to turn down a job. But you need to be able to step back from this fear of being stuck without any clients, and capable of filtering your opportunities. You need to learn how to manage rushes alongside calmer periods - which is something that is achieved by having a schedule plan.
10. Only using customer relationship platforms
Be careful to avoid relying on finding work exclusively through platforms that connect freelancers with clients. It is important to adopt a proactive attitude and go out and seek clients in your own right. For instance, you could publish a newsletter to seek out new businesses.
11. Not staying in contact with your clients
Finally, many freelancers lose contact with their clients once their work is done. That's a real shame, because maintaining ongoing communications is an excellent way to build client loyalty and build a genuine network. Similarly, it is important to get detailed feedback on your work.
Obviously, if you are freelancers, there are more than eleven traps to watch out for but, while it isn't always easy to avoid them, don't panic, making mistakes as you are starting out will accelerate the learning process to help you gain experience and not make the same mistake twice!