No one is perfect. Making mistakes as a freelancer is part of your career and should be seen as a part of learning. The burden of monitoring your progress and your well-being is solely your responsibility.
For those who want to start or have just started freelancing, here are five common mistakes of freelancers that you should avoid.
1) Not minding emotional and psychological stability
Freelancers are prone to get caught up with their work. They yearn for good profit even though they get overworked and stressed out too much. 63% of full-time freelancers say that the lifestyle they are living with has brought anxiety. The reasons behind such emotional and psychological distress are because of overworking and the lack of emotional support.
Not only does overworking lead to anxiety but also a more complicated form of a psychological effect. A study conducted in 2013 also explains that long hours of work lead to a higher risk of depression.
Especially at times where there are too many works to be done, your client is dissatisfied with your work, and your financial stability is about to break, depression would likely to hit you.
This distress is sometimes overlooked by some freelancers, leading to mismanagement of work and unwanted effects especially in physical health.
However, avoid overlooking your emotional and psychological health.
Take a deep breath.
If things are not turning out the way you want it to, stop what you’re doing and take deep breaths. Simply inhaling for five seconds, holding your breath, then exhale in equal counts can stabilize your emotions.
Schedule rest and energizer days.
It is best to have rest days. Take your mind off work. Allocate a day every week for your hobbies and the things that you love doing.
Rejuvenate your body. 8-10 hours of sleep is always recommended to put your body back in shape after a long day of work.
Low-sugar and high-protein foods are essential to maximizing your energy. Don’t skip breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day.
2) Mismanaging income
Some freelancers lack the financial skills to cope with the expenses in their daily living. Statistics show that 77% of freelancers say that they have not been more financially stable since leaving their jobs to go freelance. One reason is that they treat their income as a regular and stable salary that they can get monthly. However, this is not the financial situation of most freelancers.
In freelancing, you have to understand that your income would not come stable. You should not spend your money lightly. With fluctuating orders of your services, it would be hard to predict your everyday income.
If worse comes to worst — your next payment is not within the present month and you only have a meager amount of money on hand, you have to come up with an irregular income budget.
Come up with a low-income and low-spend budget. You can start budgeting by determining your income floor. An income floor is the lowest amount that you might earn from your freelancing.
If you have identified your income floor, you can then cross out that those you don’t necessarily need such as entertainment and leisure expenses. Decide on what you really need and what you don’t.
After you have a low-income and low-spend budget, the next thing to do is build a typical-income budget. Most of the time, your pay is valued more than your income floor. However, don’t just rush into adjusting your budget into a grandiose one. There are what some freelancers do, which is wrong. Stick with your low-income and low-spend budget and give it time until you can accumulate enough savings to give a level up to your lifestyle.
3) Prioritizing quantity over quality
Let’s face it. The better the income, the more we want to do it. Freelancers, due to wanting more profit from their services that they can do, apply for multiple orders from multiple clients. Naturally, this isn’t a bad thing. If you are capable enough to do it, then do it. However, sometimes, freelancers take advantage of putting quantity over quality.
Prioritizing quantity over quality means having more to do but sacrificing the quality of the outputs. One of the consequences of such action may be losing your finesse in your works. Because you settle for less, you cannot practice your art. You prioritize having many finished works but with less to no quality.
Another consequence is that you may lose the trust of your clients. Some clients may feel that you are just passing your projects with mediocre quantity. They may also feel that what they pay isn’t equal to what they receive. This may lead to fewer projects given to you or worse, clients may not want to do business with you anymore.
Ditch that erroneous prioritization. Make the maximum number of projects that you can do without sacrificing the quality of your work. In this way, your client may become fond of you and may give you bonuses.
4) Mismanagement of Time
Time is what some freelancers try to catch up with. Whether it’s catching up on the deadline or trying to finish it before time to get more job orders, freelancers maximize their time. However, this effort of maximizing time for work may lead to mismanagement of time. Instead of having work done by a specific time, there is no work done due to time mismanagement.
One common mistake of freelancers is biting off more than they can chew. This means that they take too many job orders from their clients without knowing first their capabilities in handling such orders. They try to fit in an unrealistic number of orders to be done in a day, resulting in only a small portion of the orders done. This ultimately leads to depression and anxiety.
Another common mistake is scheduling unrealistic deadlines. If you know that a job order cannot be realistically done in a day, stretch your working time. Schedule a deadline that fits into the complexity of the project. Having unrealistic deadlines may constrict the flow of projects, causing delays and unfinished orders.
Throw those work attitudes away and straighten up your time management skills. Having good time management comes a long way. Not only does this make your workflow smooth and free of complications, but it also sets you free from emotional and psychological distress. Even better, completing the maximum tasks on time gives you an emotional boost and a feeling of victory.
To aid you from achieving good management skills, here are four tips that you can follow.
a) Come up with a schedule.
Get your calendars and mark those days. The first key to having time management is coming up with a timetable. This lets you fit in the realistically possible number of orders that you can achieve and schedule realistic deadlines. This also lets you adjust your orders if there are unexpected events that may arise.
b) Write things down.
Take notes of important details, especially those that concern your orders. You may forget the time your client gives you for an order, leading to schedule your project incorrectly. You can always put notes on your timetable for guidance.
c) Be in charge of your time.
Do not let distractions pull you down. Sometimes, things around you distract you from finishing your work on time. Get rid of those distractions. Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and set aside your hobbies. You are the master of your own actions and time.
d) Say no.
Distractions come in different forms. These can be a high-paying project that you know you cannot do, an invitation from a friend to go out for a concert, or a conversation with someone. Learn to say no. Know and control yourself.
5) Avoiding admission of mistakes
One thing that employers or clients don’t like is that their freelancers never admit their mistakes. This is one of the problems that may occur when freelancers think of themselves as the ones who are always right. This disables them from adjusting to what their clients want for the project. However, you must remember that the one who gives the money for your project is your client.
Admitting your mistakes should be seen as a driving force that will help you grow as a freelancer, not something that degrades you as a worker. You must constructively assess where you went wrong. If you see that you are in the wrong, admit it, and adjust your work. Lifelong learning is essential for you as a freelancer.
Clients want a freelancer with a submissive attitude but with principles. This means that you should be open to ideas and criticisms that your client throws at you while maintaining your integrity as the owner of the work. You may politely defend your work but also maintaining your respect for your client.
You are your own boss.
However, this does not mean that you are free from potential mistakes. You make mistakes, but you cannot get away from them. Being smart in your freelancing career is vital, especially when you want to last as a freelancer.
Always consider every aspect of the job and make do with what you have. Being realistic is the key.