When you’re a freelancer, you don’t have a team of professionals to advise you about decisions and steer you in the right direction. You’re on your own in terms of running your business, so you’re bound to make the occasional mistake.
Fortunately, you can learn from the trial and error of others. Avoid the following four mistakes in your freelance business to protect yourself from the consequences.
Samar Owais of Copyblogger warns freelancers not to let their clients dictate their rates. You know exactly how much time and energy you spend on every logo you design, article you write, or website you code. Your client has no idea — he or she is concerned with the final product and not the process you take to create it.
Instead of asking your clients how much they can pay, tell them what you charge. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask about a client’s budget. However, use that information to recommend levels of service that meet the rates you set for yourself. You can also offer your client a payment plan with several increments, if it suits both parties.
Freelancers don’t hold nine-to-five jobs, so they often don’t work nine-to-five hours. For one thing, working for yourself means you should work when you’re most productive. If you get an energy boost at 10 p.m. every night, plan to work late in the evening instead of early in the morning.
You might also need to work more hours than the typical staffer. Putting in 10-hour days might not sound like much fun, but that’s how you build a viable visit. You don’t punch a clock, so don’t assume that you can get by with the minimum time commitment.
If you’re working globally, be prepared to work some odd hours. Clients on the other side of the planet will expect you to be available for at least some portion of their own working hours, so plan accordingly by project.
Starting a freelancing business feels like a leap of faith, but so does hiring a freelancer. If you want to build healthy relationships with your clients, keep in touch with them. Send weekly emails to update them on their project’s status or schedule bi-weekly Skype calls to brainstorm or discuss future projects.
Freelancer Addison Duvall names “under-communicating” as one of the deadly communication sins among freelancers. Duvall advocates a proactive approach to this process: Don’t wait for your client to get in touch; pick up the phone or type in his or her email address to show you’re concerned with your client’s needs.
The idea of dropping a client might fill you with horror — why would you give up the chance to earn money? — but letting go of a problem client opens up time in your schedule for a client who values your work and shares your vision. Problem clients can sap your creative energy and cause you to resent your job.
If you experience constant friction with a client, explain that you don’t think you’re the best fit for their needs and recommend another freelancer who might fit the bill. Start looking for new clients who might mesh better with your workflow.
Learning to avoid freelance business mistakes can protect your future and save you hours of wasted energy. Make sure you have a reliable way to get paid from your valued clients. Sign up for Payoneer and take advantage of the convenient cross-border payment system.