Top 5 Freelancing Mistakes to Avoid at Any Cost

Freelancing MistakesIt is always better to learn from others mistakes than wait to commit to those mistakes yourself and then learn never to do them again.

Freelancing is one such source of income where every newcomer and experienced freelancer is bound to make a mistake – knowingly or unknowingly, at some point in their freelancing career.

There are no formal or institutional systems to teach you the dos and don’ts of freelancing. You have to rely on your own experience, experience of fellow freelancers and above all, have faith in your skills. With this brief introduction, we move on to see the top 5 freelancing mistakes to avoid at any cost.

Mistake 01: Never Remain Underpaid

You will unknowingly fall into a never ending trap if you allow yourself to remain underpaid for your honest efforts.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a native or non-native freelancer; it is evident that you are going to begin freelancing with low earning potential because of one reason: lack of experience.

But even after this lack of experience translates into relevant experience, let’s say, after two years, freelancers begin to fall into the trap of getting underpaid for their work…

Why? 90% of the clients are never ready to pay sufficiently for freelancers efforts; on the other hand, freelancers are often afraid of asking for better pay rates because they fear the client will close the deal. Thus begins the vicious cycle. If you don’t believe us, visit elance.com, freelancer.com and odesk.com, and see the amount clients are paying freelancers.

For instance, you will see clients offering;

  • $1 for 600-700 word blogs
  • $0.50 for 500 word rewrites
  • $50 for creating a 75-page high quality e-book
  • $50-$60 for fully setting up WordPress blogs

Also notice the kind of experienced people applying for those freelance jobs. In fact, there are some freelancers out there who will readily sell you 500 word blog posts for $1 and the sad part is that those posts are often sold or are PLR content made unique through rewrite software; and again, such rewrites come with excessive grammar errors.

Think clearly – both the clients and freelancers are responsible for thousands of freelancers who are being underpaid at the moment.

Therefore, once you have relevant experience and you are sure that your work can justify demanding high freelancing fees, never look back. You may not receive high-paying clients immediately but the wait is worthwhile.

Mistake 02: Mistaking Freelancing as a Full Time Job

The primary reason you are a freelancer in the first place is because you don’t want to constrain yourself to a full-time job. But freelancers often tend to forget this distinction and take freelancing jobs as a full time prospect. Remember that no matter how much the client/s pay you, the client does not own 24 hours of your time.

In your freelancing career, you will undoubtedly get clients who demand that you spend every working hour collaborating with them, replying to every email instantly, that is, basically being on your toes 24/7.

While such clients may pay handsomely and you might feel tempted to give in to those demands, you should never forget the basic reason why you became a freelancer in the first place, that is, to own your time and work as much as you would like and not under unnecessary compulsion.

Therefore, it’s prudent that you clearly tell client/s the freelancing output they can expect in a given week. Also make it clear that a client should not take you for granted.

A word of caution – working on your own time doesn’t mean you become irresponsible and unprofessional with your work. Just try to create a clear line with regards to the expectations a client can have from you and refrain from becoming overworked as a freelancer.

Mistake 03: Turning Into a ‘Yes’ Freelancer

Turning into a ‘Yes’ freelancer is similar to mistake 02 in a number of ways with few additions like the number of freelancing projects you undertake in a period of time and the kind of service you are giving to your clients.

For instance, if you are working on multiple projects for one single client, you need to divide the time given to each project.

Or… if you have regular work from various clients, you need to control your work output to prevent stagnancy and burn out.

Moreover, try not to take work that demands 24-hour submission deadlines every day. Problems like Internet connectivity, computer crash or even sudden sickness can crop up at any time and not every client will understand your problems.

Further, understand what kind of service a client expects from your you. If the client contracts you for writing and uploading tasks, and later asks for directory submissions, proofreading/editing others articles, social media marketing etc. without even talking about paying an additional cost for your time, you should either politely refuse them or ask for additional payment. Chances are that you will not choose the second option.

Well then don’t blame others if you feel underpaid…

Mistake 04: Misleading Clients

Never mislead clients by false promises of service. Deliver what you promise you would. This way you will always stay in the client’s good standings. There are clients who will not mind paying extra to receive high quality work on time.

Another way of misleading a client is to outsource your work to content farms. An individual freelancer does not work under the category of content farming. Often it so happens that a client X commissions an individual freelancer Y to write content and that Y freelancer outsources to Z content farm at a much cheaper cost.

By doing so, a freelancer not only misleads the client and breaks professional ethics but also downgrades the freelancing industry by promoting cheap work ethics, forcing writers to remain underpaid.

Before taking work from a client, you should clearly state whether you are an individual freelancer or working for a company. That way, the client can also decide project deadlines and knows what to expect.

Mistake 05: Don’t Irritate the Client

There are clients who may wish to give you multiple projects one after another and there are clients who are interested in only one time deals.

In both cases, the undeniable fact remains that associating with the client will come to an end at some point of time.

So what is often recommended is to follow up with the client asking without sounding overbearing if there are any additional assignments available.

But what a freelancer should ALWAYS avoid is to repeatedly follow up with the client even when the client does not reply. This behavior is very irritating and closes any chance of receiving any repeat assignments. Follow up once or twice in a month or two, and then consider the business relationship closed for now.

Print out the mistakes above, paste it at your work station and remind yourself of these from time to time.

Please share with us your freelancing mistakes below.

How to Manage Your Clients to Maximize Your Freelance Income

Freelancing, even today, is often misunderstood as a limited stream to earn one’s living.

Freelance IncomeThis is the reason you will see many people pursuing freelancing as a ‘second source of earning’ and continuing with their illusion of a secured job and monthly checks as their ‘primary source of income.’

Did I just say illusion? Absolutely!

Your so-called full-time secured job is an illusion we have created in the last few decades. You never know when you will get the pink slip out of the blue…

A full time ‘secured’ job as an employee does not give you the right to control your earning whereas earning from freelancing is just the opposite.

With freelancing jobs of any kind, you get to choose the sources to earn money, control your money inflow and create multiple sources of income.

How to maximize your freelance income

(This is relevant to any kind of freelancer)

Managing Your Clients

One of the main hindrances to creating multiple online income sources is not having the ability to handle your clients.

You don’t need to have an MBA or attend online seminars to know how to handle clients. But know this; failure to handle clients means doom for your business as in loss of clients.

Now what does client handling mean?

(1) You must know how to communicate with them
(2) You must know how to stick to deadlines
(3) You must be clear about financial matters
(4) You must never be clingy

Again, failure to do so creates lots of problems. So how do you manage? Read my personal experience.

As a freelance writer, last year I had about 23 clients to manage simultaneously. In other words, I had 23 online web contents projects to manage and I didn’t have any clue on how to do that.

I didn’t have a team of writers, a day just had 24 hours, I had to update clients daily and most importantly, submit web content daily…I was going mad!!!

I couldn’t refuse the clients at the 11th hour because the money was good and I didn’t want to come across as unprofessional.

What did I do? (This is something I practice even today)


(1) I communicated clearly

First, I divided the projects into ‘most important,’ ‘important’ and ‘not so important.’

By importance I meant the urgency to complete them. I contacted the ‘important’ and ‘not so important’ project clients and negotiated a different time frame for completion.

Note that before I did this, I was afraid to put this proposal in front of my client because it could have meant losing that client but I had to draw a line somewhere and this seemed to be the best idea…

I sent the clients an email requesting them to reconsider the tight deadlines. Out of 23, 15 received my email, 12 agreed and 3 dropped off. Not bad, I would say! You cannot please everyone…

Now I was better placed in terms of time and client expectations…this is so important!

(2) I kept deadlines

While there are clients who are very flexible with deadlines and don’t mind numerous extensions, a freelancer should never take it for granted.

A website I write for cuts 10% off the fee everyday if any freelancer goes past the deadline. If you are working from home, I would suggest to maintain a time spreadsheet where you note down the number of hours you will spend everyday for each project and obviously, start with the most urgent ones first.

In fact, if you want more value for your services, you can multiply your income by charging higher for urgent services like in the next 24 hours or so…

Clients that are flexible can be charged less.

(3) I was firm on financial matters

See, any kind of job that involves money matters should be communicated clearly. One of my friends is a web designer. Six months back he got a $800 project to build a customized website for the client.

He had 20 days to complete the project but my friend delayed and finished the work in 46 days, taking 26 days extra…

Now I must say that the client didn’t complain or threaten about non-payment.

However, when my friend asked for the project fees, (no advances were paid) the client dilly-dallied, became unresponsive and finally paid $600 (yes, deducted $200) after 26 delayed days.

Well, to me it seemed the client was teaching my friend a lesson here.

My intention to tell this story is to make you aware that if you want to earn money from multiple clients from freelancing, it is important to maintain your professionalism, that is, never take the client for granted.

Once you attain this professionalism, you can negotiate with the client on money matters properly.

For instance, you can draw up a contract stating the amount of advance to be paid, project milestones to be followed and the final payment date.

As a kind of guarantee, you can even write down the amount of money you will waiver off if you delay the project…some clients will readily accept such conditions.

(4) I never cling to clients

In my freelancing career, there were clients with whom I did one-time projects spanning 10 days and there were clients I worked with for more than a year.

The point is a freelancer cannot assume that the client will hire his/her services every time. While it is good to send a follow-up email once or twice to the client, please refrain from using pressurizing tactics.

My friend, the web designer, used to send follow-up emails every 12 hours to those clients who didn’t get back to him offering more projects. This is a very negative and annoying strategy.

By doing so you will dash whatever hopes the client had in giving you a second or third project, thus resulting in your business loss!

It is a general misunderstanding among any kind of freelancing work that the more clients you have, the more you can generate money.

Financially, this is true and if a freelancer has a team then handling more projects becomes relatively easier…

However, when a freelancer is working alone, it is always advisable not to take on more clients at one time if you can’t handle it. Doing so will harm the quality of work done and thus, impact your income negatively.

Learn to manage your project clients and you can easily maximize your freelance income.