About the author

Darren Cronian, the author of this guide, has spent eight years securing remote jobs and building a successful freelancing business. His goal is to help people escape the office. Read more >

It will be a learning process when starting your business and there are many freelancing mistakes that you will make when starting. The knowledge in this guide will help you succeed quickly and reduce stress.

Freelancing mistakes to avoid

Your mind should always be your client. You want them to return with more work in the future, so you spend less time searching for new clients.

For two years, my focus was building a freelance business while working full-time. Freelancing helped me clear my debt and save enough money to feel comfortable quitting my job and employer for 24 years.

This guide will go through the freelancing mistakes, focusing on areas to avoid when starting your freelance business.

Avoid these freelancing mistakes at all costs
Do not use freelancing platforms

Upwork, People Per Hour, and Freelancer are good places to research what kind of work companies are looking for help on. They are not places you should build your freelance business around.

You have no control over your business if all of your clients are referred from a third-party platform you have no control over.

Changes in algorithms can harm your business.

Do build your client base

At the start, it is easier to acquire clients on freelancing platforms. You might want to use the sites mentioned to gain experience, but your long-term aim should be to build your client base.

You want direct clients who contact you via your website or social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Do create content to showcase your skills

One of the biggest challenges new freelancers face has a website. When you are starting, no one knows who you are. It is essential to build trust by creating content to showcase your skills.

Untrue. LinkedIn is so undervalued. Most people will create a profile, add their job history and leave it dormant. Instead, to start, you should be spending time where your perfect client spends their time online.

Every day, create content on LinkedIn.

Add value, share advice and experiences. Use 1-3 hashtags for the niche/industry you are focusing on.

Do not include links within the content because this affects the algorithm and its promotion. Instead, leave a CTA in the comments.

Do not cold call potential clients

Companies and entrepreneurs do not have time to talk to people on the telephone. The best way to communicate with your perfect client is to build relationships with them on social networks.

Or, you could send a short email with a link to content showcasing your skills. Tell them why they need you. Share what value you will bring to their business. You want to use a subject that will catch their attention.

Attend networking events – did I say how important networking is? It is critical when starting as a freelancer. Over time people will talk about you to potential clients, and word of mouth will be how you gain most clients.

Do not live invoice to invoice

The worst thing you can do is rely on an invoice to pay your bills and rent/mortgage. Save a percentage of your income for those days when invoices are slow at getting paid.

Most freelancers’ stress is over money, so make life easier. Saving 20-30% of each invoice you are paid will build up over time. During quiet times of the year, you can take time off work and not worry about money.

One downside of freelancing is that you do not receive sick pay or paid vacation leave, so you save money each month.

Save money for taxes, pension, and healthcare

You are following on from when work is quiet. Make sure to save money for your tax bill, pension, and healthcare if you live in a country where healthcare is not free. Getting control of your finances is essential.

One of the biggest mistakes new freelancers make is waiting for the tax bill to land on their doorstep rather than saving their money wisely.

When you are bringing in regular money, hire an accountant to take care of the financial side of your freelance business. The money you spend, a good accountant will save you 3 or 4 times in taxes.

Ask for 50% of the payment upfront

As a new freelancer, you might not feel comfortable asking for 50% upfront, but sadly there are bad clients. You are covering yourself financially since some companies can process invoices for 2-3 months.

If the client will not process 50% upfront, the next best option is to set milestones with your client. When you reach a specific stage in the project, they will pay you a percentage of the final bill.

Do not work with everyone

Another problem when starting as a freelancer is feeling you have to work with every client who contacts you. Invite them to a video call and ask questions about the project and expectations.

The benefit of freelancing is having the final decision on who you work for. After a 15-20 minute video call, reject the work if you have any doubts.

Do write up a contract with your client

To avoid difficulties and cover yourself legally and financially, draw up a contract both parties sign. Ensure the project scope is detailed, including pricing, payment schedule, and options.

Who owns the copyright and ownership of the work? As it is a legal document, it can be used in court should you have any difficulties. Include the deadlines and timeline if it is a project over a long period.

Create a work routine

Finally, please take care of your health. You will not get paid if you are ill and cannot work. It is so essential as a freelancer. Take days off work and create a work routine that fits your lifestyle. Think about when you are most productive.

Maybe you work better in the morning or evening. Also, think about time zones because communication is critical with your clients.

Ask any remote work questions.

These freelancing mistakes are to be avoided at all costs. Hopefully, this will give you something to think about. Do not forget to ask any remote work questions and we will happily help you.

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