Pursuing a freelance career from home can be daunting. You turn from a living on a steady paycheck to an unreliable income. Also, you land on a territory when you have little to none experience so far and you start making bigger mistakes as a newbie freelancer. No need to be scared. Everyone has faced dire straits at the beginning of a big goal pursuit. Hopefully, rather sooner than later, things will start to look up. There will be many lessons you’ll learn the hard way. However, in the end of the day, you’ll realize you’re on the right path because freelancing has many perks. Before you decide to become part of the freelancing community, take a good look on a few serious freelancing mistakes the new freelancers make on their way to success. The best way to avoid them is being aware of them.
1) Work for free to build a portfolio
There is a huge misconception that freelance workers should do pro bono work to build a decent portfolio. In the world we live in, there is no such thing as a free lunch. By doing a free work in the name of your portfolio, on one hand, you violate what other freelancers have achieved through hard work and sleepless nights. On the other, you give a reason to freeloader clients to take advantage of your free labor. My advice is, don’t work for free. You can always build your portfolio without clients. If you are a writer, create a blog and put there your most valuable articles. This blog will be your portfolio. If you are a graphic designer, again, create a blog or a website and post your most significant works there.
2) Charge low rates not worth your skills
The biggest mistake freelancers make is charging too little for their work when their skills and in-depth knowledge are worth much more. Initially, if you decide to begin your freelance career through platforms like Upwork, Elance or Freelancer.com, you may have to deal with low rates in order to earn a high profile rating later. It is not a bad strategy. Once you reach a higher level, you’ll be able to raise your rates. Only make sure you don’t get stuck working for nothing for too long because it will be your biggest mistake as a freelancer and will get you a really frustrating experience. Your main goal should be: price your clients according to the time and effort it takes you to finish the job. Value your knowledge and skills. Raise your rates as quickly as possible.
3) Take every job
To build a strong reputation of a trustworthy freelancer, you need to complete excellently as many orders as you can. In the beginning, most freelancers think they are not in a position to turn down orders so they take every job. That’s a bad strategy. You have the full right to decline proposals when you feel you’re not the right fit or you already have too many orders in queue. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you take every job, the odds are you will hardly complete all orders on time. When you miss a deadline, the client will leave a bad review on your profile and probably won’t come back. There you see, it’s vital to learn to say “No”.
4) Overworking and sleepless nights
Fueled by fear, many newbie freelancers tend to overwork and miss sleep in order to meet the deadlines. No rest for the wicked. Bear in mind how badly this impacts not only on your social and personal life, but also your productivity. You risk to fall in a vicious circle of sleeping lesser and working more than your system can take. Moreover, this heavy burden may cause insomnia or other health conditions. The solution is good time management. If you have many deadlines to meet, make a schedule so you will never miss one.
5) Take work that doesn’t meet your expertise
Never take jobs you have little to none notion how to do. Don’t try to be Jack-of-all- trades and fool yourself that you’ll learn in the process of working. That’s a huge freelancing mistake. You risk not meeting the client’s expectations. If that happens, he or she won’t miss to leave a negative mark on your reputation. As a beginner freelancer, avoid taking unnecessary risks. It won’t do you any good.
6) Take jobs you don’t like
That would be a horrible mistake to make as a newbie freelancer. Doing jobs you don’t like takes more effort and time than you can imagine. You will end up spending long hours doing something you won’t enjoy even a little. That’s why it’s important to pick your projects wisely. I recommend taking those jobs that pay well and offer you to earn valuable experience.
7) Never taking a day off
When you work from home, you have the freedom to follow a flexible work schedule. But there is a tricky part. To complete all ongoing tasks, some freelancers miss to take a day off. Unplugging is a very important part of your new life as a freelancer. You need to take a break to recharge your energy. If you work all day every day, there is a huge risk of exhaustion. Remember, your mental and physical health comes first. When it is broken, you won’t be able to do any quality work so don’t forget to rest. At least once or twice a week, call it a day and go to the movies, meet with friends in the cafeteria and have some fun.
What freelancing mistakes did you make in the dawn of your work-from-home career?
Do you have any tips to share on how to start a freelance career at home?
We’d be happy to read about the lessons you’ve learnt the hard way. We’ve all been there. The more we share, the much help we’ll provide to new freelancers. That’s what they need the most in the beginning – hope and motivation to keep on going.
For more helpful posts on how to build a successful work-from-home career, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter.