Many would associate freelancing with freedom, independence, and flexibility. And who wouldn’t want that?! As glorious as it may seem, it is far from straightforward. Perhaps you might be new to freelancing and feeling a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry! Every great freelancer was once in your shoes. You’re in the right place! We want to share some insights that might help you kickstart your journey.
Mistake #1: Accepting every project
The interests of your client should be aligned with the skills you have to offer. At first, it might be quite exciting to get your first couple of clients and showcasing your determination in becoming your own. Depending on the nature of the task or agreement, there might be a point where the work you are doing is not totally in line with what you can offer.
This is particularly true for freelancers working with a client on a prolonged basis. You need to be critical when accepting projects. Not every client might be a fit and declining the offer is not a failure! It is a sign of maturity and understanding your worth. Develop an ideal profile for a client, identify the criteria you need to accept a project. You will gain clarity by doing so, helping you manage your clients more effectively.
Mistake #2: Waiting around
Independence was used to describe freelancing, and that’s what it is. You are your own boss. You decide when to work, from where, and with who. Sadly, there is no one to hold your hand. It can be tough, there will be moments in which you feel lost, and that’s part of the journey. But more importantly, don’t wait around! Your clients are called clients for a reason, they pay you to do work. It is your mission to fulfill these expectations.
Be proactive, maintain a healthy relationship with your client. Clients are often overwhelmed with all sorts of problems of their own, you might not be their priority. Don’t become a burden, become a solution. Communication is of the utmost importance. Always ensure that both you and your client are on the same page. And keep them up to date. You need to take the initiative, remember you are your own boss!
Mistake #3: Narrow-minded execution
In freelancing, you are given creative freedom in execution. Your client will establish the setting and provide you with general parameters. Then it is your task to integrate your skills, experience, and opinion to construct something of value, which might not conform to traditional execution techniques, and that is the beauty of freelancing. Do not complete a task just to get it over with it, take a step back. Identify creative ways to accomplish a task. This is where you show the client your unique value. Think outside the box whilst aligning the clients’ requests.
Going the extra mile can reap all sorts of benefits. It reassures the client that they have made the right choice. You’re simultaneously enriching your value, and increasing the probability of your client recommending you to others. So don’t do the bare minimum, elevate yourself, prove your value!
Mistake #4: Underestimating your value
At the end of the day there is a good chance that freelancing is your primary source of income, never undermine this. Conduct market research, identify industry standards for pay, and value yourself correctly. In the beginning, you’re likely to undervalue yourself, getting new clients is exciting and often you may not know how to negotiate your value. Take the stance, and clearly tell the client your worth.
It happens so often that freelancers do not correctly communicate their value, giving the client the opportunity to set a price, often neglecting the freelancer. Confidently establish your value, and stay true to it. Remember there are only 24 hours in a day, there is only so much work you can do.
Mistake #5: Losing faith
As generic as it may sound, try to avoid losing faith. The journey ahead will be far from straightforward, you are about to embark on one hell of a rollercoaster ride. When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Don’t worry if you need to take a step back. Look at the progress you’ve made, and where you once started. Use that as a metric for motivation, There are also times in which freelancing can become lonely. Look for freelancing groups, stay in contact with freelancers and clients you’ve worked with. If you are feeling unmotivated, change the setting in which you work. Maybe try out a coworking space instead of working from home. There are countless ways to realign yourself.
Mistake #6: Losing track of finances and taxes
Accounting, accounting, accounting. As a freelancer is it super important that you never lose track of your finances. From the get-go, be disciplined with yourself and track all the money going into and out of your business. Declaring false or incorrect reports will get you into lots of trouble. Fortunately keeping track of everything has become easier than ever. There are plenty of tools online that are designed to help individuals like us, especially for those just starting out.
An example of this is Freshbooks. The platform allows you to invoice clients and create a dashboard for you to easily do your accounting. At a low cost of €6 per month. This will help you significantly when having to do your VAT returns (one month after every quarter) and your yearly income tax.
It is advised that you also create a separate excel sheet in which you personally track everything, for you to cross-validate your finances, this will ensure that you are being transparent and don’t lose oversight of your finances. If taxes worry you, then reach out to a fellow freelancer who can show you what you need to do. Or hire a tax accountant who can help you file your taxes for you. Don’t overthink the process, divert your energy to your work but never forget to keep track of your finances!
Freelancing can be tough. But the benefits will outweigh the struggle it takes to be successful. Learn from others, take their advance, and jumpstart your career.
If you have made it this far through the blog…
Chances are that you are seriously looking to start your freelance journey or improve your freelance business. That’s great we are here for it!
At Phanum, we aim to support you at the beginning of your freelance journey by taking care of the more daunting tasks of freelancing: finding work, project management, and learning new skills. Get in touch to learn more!