Tips & Tutorials: Mistakes Freelancers Make
When starting out as a freelancer whatever creative medium you are working in you are bound to make some mistakes. It's a whole new adventure and isn't always straightforward. Writing and answering clients briefs, pitching ideas, marketing yourself, sorting out your tax return and cold calling potential clients are all things you will have to learn on the job but some mistakes may effect client relationships and the success of your business. Here is a list of some of the mistakes I made early on so that you can hopefully avoid them:
1. Don't lose your receipts
Before you worry about the quality of your work, set yourself up as a business. Register your trading name with the HMRC and sit down with a self-employed friend and get some advice about running your own business. However skilled you are at your craft won't matter unless you understand the basics of business. Anything you spend to do with the business, petrol, work-lunches, equipment, and hosting space can be expensed out of the business. So keep your receipts safe and sound!
2. Don't lose interest on payday
The relationship with your client doesn't end the day you get your final payment. Try not to get lost in the present thing you are working on. Focus on building relationships with your clients that will last for many years to come. Freelancers are like toothbrushes. (Think about it)
3. Don't under charge
Most freelancer’s especially recent graduates charge way too little for their work. It de-values the whole industry. What you charge is up to you and can change from job to job. Remember you’re a skilled worker, and your invoice should reflect that.
4. When a client asks you to work for free because 'it will be good exposure for you.' Don't.
I've fallen for this trap too many times. If they want you they will pay you. Clients that will be good exposure for you are normally the clients that have realistic budgets.
5. Be careful when setting fixed fees
Be careful when quoting for a complete job rather than factoring in a duration day rate. A happy client knows exactly what they are getting for their money every step of the way. Don't tie yourself into projects as they never seem to end at the same price.
6. Don't stop communicating
Keeping your clients in the loop will keep them from getting frustrated. Frustrated clients tend to give less creative freedom.
7. Schedule calls
Book in work calls for pitching and discuss concepts. Booking in a call gives both you and your client time to prepare for the conversation. Be careful how you word suggestions. I understand that your client probably doesn't know best but you need to carefully show them that rather than telling them. Build their trust.
8. Get an accountant
Tax returns are tricky but manageable as long as you have kept hold of all your receipts, but they do take up a whole day once a year. Paying an accountant relieves you of the stress and means you know things are being done properly.
9. Don't refuse small jobs
Don't turn small jobs down just because they don't have huge budgets. Often small jobs have the most creative freedom.
10. Don't be arrogant
Successful freelancers need to be driven and confident but you are not successful just because you’re busy. It is easy to get arrogant when things are going well, but no one wants to commission someone who thinks everything they design is gold dust.
- Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons: Bolshakov