Picture this: You’ve finally decided to take your career remote and transformed your space into a home office (or packed your bags and renewed your passport). That tingly feeling of confidence and excitement is fueling your productivity and will to succeed in this next chapter. It’s a crazy time of change, both mentally and physically, so not only is it imperative to focus on the logistical side of running a business, an equal amount of effort should also focus on strengthening your mind.
Once the high of full independence wears off, the journey is essentially a period of trial and error, the perfect time to make freelancer mistakes and learn from them. But no worries, while life is inevitably going to happen, there are ways to avoid or simply get through some of these common freelancer mistakes.
1. Spreading yourself too thin
Remember that you do not need to be available every time someone is in need/a job is offered. There is a difference between volunteering in a time of crisis and bending over backwards to the point of self-neglect. If you don’t have the time to do something, don’t say you do just because the opportunity is on the table. You’re just setting yourself up for failure from the start and we need your reputation to shine in those first stages of freelancing. Additionally, setting boundaries and sticking to them is nothing to feel selfish about either. Once the lines are drawn, move and communicate accordingly.
2. Accepting Lower Pay
There is some weird time period when you first start freelancing where you entertain opportunities that do not match up with your preferred rate, simply because you want to build your portfolio more and at least receive some sort of continuous work. But after awhile, there needs to be a change in expectations on both ends in order for you to really grow. Know your worth and be confident in offering your services at the rate you deserve. And once numbers are set, always draw up a contract and do not begin work until it is signed by both parties. Having everything in writing is super important in case you need receipts in the future.
3. Failing at Work/Life Balance
This is, of course, easier said than done. However, it’s so important to know when to shut the business mind off cater to yourself in a more personal and intimate way. Self-care will be the thing to keep you sane as you handle your business like a boss. And after you’ve conquered the week, do not feel guilty about unplugging on the weekend or during the vacation that you’ve more than earned. Communicate with your clients the hours that you’re available, setting realistic boundaries that are forever enforced.
4. Losing Focus & Productivity
It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re working from home or from a wonderful city you’ve yet to explore. Part of running a successful business is staying focused and consistent during work hours. So whatever helps you stay on task, whether that be an app or routine, is vital. Challenge yourself each day with the end goal being growth in your profession, whatever that looks like for you. And always know that communication is one of the most important things to master now.
5. Mishandling your Finances
The easiest way to crash and burn when freelancing is not managing your finances correctly. Receiving your first large chunks of money is amazing and you should totally treat yourself, but also keep a working budget so you can know where your coins are going so you *can plan that next trip and splurge on something nice. Keep at your payment terms with your clients, follow up if a payment is late, and always keep your receipts for business transactions for tax write-offs. Oh, and taxes… do your taxes.
6. Revealing too much, too soon…
When beginning a conversation with new clients (regardless if you have a personal relationship), we always want to brag on ourselves so we’re presented in the best light; this includes the proposal. And while that is a great idea, be sure not to share ALL of your tips/tricks, etc. up front. There is a way to showcase your talents without having to be too wordy with exact details that could leave you giving away your best stuff for free. Always have a signed contract before starting any work and keep receipts of your conversations to cover your bases, just in case!
7. Doubting Yourself
I know that you know that you’re the best at what you do! You have to be your own biggest fan when solidifying yourself in this business. Doubting yourself will only bring negativity around, which can cut off the direct route to your creative thoughts and problem-solving abilities. Keep your mental health intact, dedicate time for yourself to recharge; sometimes we all need a fresh perspective, so take a break and find that will to continue with your work BEFORE you burn yourself out. You got this, follow your dreams and be unapologetic about it and watch what can happen!