8 common freelancer mistakes and how to avoid them

There are plenty pitfalls to fall into as a freelancer. To help navigate this landscape here are 8 common freelancer mistakes with tips on how to avoid them.

8 common freelancer mistakes and how to avoid them

8 common freelancer mistakes

Did you know that freelancers can earn quite a bit more than the average employee? Besides higher earning power, freelancing also brings flexibility and potentially better work-life balance and wellbeing. 

But becoming a successful freelancer isn't always easy. There are lots of potential pitfalls on the path that can impact your earning ability. 

Fortunately, you don't have to make these common freelancer mistakes. Instead, carry on reading as we share some of the top things not to do when growing your freelance career. 

1. Not selling yourself

One of the most common freelancer mistakes is not "selling" your services. The first step in gaining the freedom to freelance is getting clients. 

To gain clients, you need to promote yourself, whether through advertising your services online, on social media, or through organic methods. Once a potential client shows interest, you need to clearly demonstrate why they should pick you for the job and not another freelancer. 

One of the best ways to do this is via in-depth proposals. A detailed, well-designed proposal will show the new client why they should pick you. It also gets you and the client on the same page right from the get-go. 

Unfortunately, a lot of new freelancers skim through the proposal stage. Proposals take time to build, especially if you're doing it from scratch. 

We know how important (but time-consuming) proposals are, which is why Hectic has an efficient proposal builder feature that allows you to create beautiful, on-brand proposals within minutes. You can choose from a variety of industry-specific templates, designed by experts who know how to sell. Once a client accepts your proposal, you can also turn it into a contract with just a few clicks. 

2. Not creating contracts

Speaking of contracts, this is another very common freelancer mistake — and one you should definitely avoid. Often, freelancers settle for a client-created contract (or go without one entirely) and don't think to create a contract of their own. 

This is a dangerous practice, as client-created contracts will typically focus on protecting the client. And lacking a contract at all can increase your risks on non-payment, scope creep, and other problems.

Creating a contract for each client improves your professionalism and security. It also prevents scope creep. Should your client get difficult and claim that you promised more than you're delivering, you can easily point them back to the contract. 

One of the easiest ways to create comprehensive contracts that are legally sound and binding is by using Hectic's contract tool. Instead of creating contracts from scratch every time, you can simply convert your client proposals straight into watertight contracts, complete with vetted legal terminology.

What's more, you can do all of this on the go if you download the Hectic mobile app

3. Not raising your prices

Like we said above, you can earn decent, above-average money as a freelancer. Stats show that 75% of freelancers say that freelancing increases their earning potential. 

But to earn well, you also need to charge well. 

Depending on your experience and skill level, you might want to charge less in the beginning. This can help you get a foot in the door and build up your portfolio. Once you've established yourself, however, it's time to start raising your prices. 

Keep in mind that your freelance assignment rates aren't a salary or a wage, they are what your salary needs to come out of. They are an all-inclusive price for your services that also needs to cover things like:

  • Taxes
  • Miscellaneous business expenses
  • Health insurance
  • Business-related insurance
  • Time spent on non-billable admin tasks
  • Advertising costs

One of the most common freelancing mistakes people make is not treating their freelance career like a business. <tweet-link>Just because you don't employ anyone, doesn't mean that you aren't running a business.<tweet-link>

Also, if you're cringing at the idea of charging more (hello imposter syndrome), remember that the more you charge, the better quality clients you'll probably get. 

4. Not accurately tracking your time

Another way you can lose out on income is by not accurately tracking your time. If you're billing by the hour, untracked time goes unpaid. It's as simple as that.

If you're billing per project or deliverable, it's still a good idea to track your time. Time tracking gives you hard data on how long tasks take you and where your time is going in your daily freelance schedule. This data can help you adjust pricing and streamline tasks that are time wasters. 

If you sign up for a Hectic account, you will get instant access to our integrated time tracking feature. You can access it from any page and add task notes and details. The time tracker also supplies you with graphs and charts that give you an instant visual breakdown of how you're spending your time. 

5. Being disorganized

Did you know that working from home can increase productivity by 13%? That said, if you build your freelancing systems on a disorganized base, you might lose productivity instead of gaining it.

Once you start freelancing, things can quickly start to get messy. And we're not talking about your desk. We're talking about your apps, tools, documents, and communication streams. 

Before you know it, you can't remember whether that important spec from your client was in an email or a DM. You're also spending endless amounts of time and energy jumping back and forth between your invoicing tool, Dropbox, your calendar, and your to-do list. 

That is enough to make anyone either a) go crazy, or b) burn out. 

But how does one consolidate all of these siloed tools, locations, and communication streams? 

In Hectic, of course! 

Because Hectic was built for freelancers by freelancers, it has everything you need to run your freelance business in one, consolidated place. From communicating with your clients to creating invoices from completed deliverables, then sending and marking them as paid, you never have to leave Hectic. Whether you're managing clients, documents, deadlines, deliverables, time, or even other freelance collaborators, you can do and see everything from one streamlined location. 

Trust us, it's the stuff freelance dreams are made of. 

6. Not using an accounting tool

Are you using a spreadsheet to keep track of your freelance financials? This is another of the common freelance mistakes. 

Just because you're a freelancer, doesn't mean you don't need a proper accounting tool. Manually keeping track of your income and expenses in a spreadsheet isn't ideal because:

  • You probably aren't doing double-entry
  • It's time-consuming
  • You don't get comprehensive reports

Even if your freelancing financials are very simple, you still need on-demand, accurate reports. You also shouldn’t be wasting time copy-pasting numbers from receipts, bank statements, etc.

Not sure which accounting tool to use?

When you sign up with Hectic, you get automatic access to the Hectic accounting feature. Here you can keep track of expenses; claim out-of-pocket expenses from clients; generate reports and profit and loss statements; be tax-ready year-round; and snap and upload receipts.

7. Not chasing repeat work

One of the secrets to the art of freelancing is building ongoing relationships with clients that you love. 

After managing freelance projects, a lot of freelancers make the mistake of leaving the ball in the client's court. 

It's easy to think clients will get back to you if they need something done. Often, they will. But there might be times when you can help them make up their mind to rehire you. 

Shooting past clients a quick email, reminding them of your services, and letting them know you are available for any projects they need help with might just be the nudge someone needs to reach back out to you and press go on a new project. 

You don't have to make your email pushy or pleading. Keep it short, sweet, and friendly and you might be surprised at the number of responses you get.

8. Not communicating clearly with clients

One of the common freelancer mistakes that can make or break your business is poor client communication. Communicating clearly with clients is essential. 

Clear communication minimizes disputes, makes for happier clients, less wasted time, and faster payments. 

When communicating with clients, keep in mind that digital channels can sometimes cloud communication. You might also be working with clients from various areas, backgrounds, and cultures. Therefore, don't hesitate to repeat yourself, and double-check that you have understood the client. 

You might also want to centralize your client communications so you can always refer back to them in one place. Hectic is perfect for this, as you can view all of your client communications, documents, project history, and project statuses from the client management dashboard

Don't make these common freelancer mistakes

Getting started with freelancing can be tough, especially if you're falling prey to common freelancer mistakes such as undercharging, not writing solid contracts or proposals, or being disorganized. 

Fortunately, now that you know about the most common freelancer mistakes, you can take steps to avoid them. 

What's more, you can also let Hectic take the work out of essential, yet time-consuming tasks, such as proposals and contract creation. At the same time, you can leverage it for your accounting needs, manage all of your clients from one place, track your time, organize your projects, and more. 

Sign up today for full access and one client for free, forever. 

Want to access Hectic while on the go? Bill clients on the fly? Or quickly turn a proposal into a contract?

Download the app here