Building a freelance business feels liberating because you’re ripping off the shackles around your ankles, put on by your employer. Freelancing will give you the freedom to live life on your terms.
That said, let’s not pretend that it isn’t difficult to find clients that respect your skills. After freelancing on and off for nearly five years, here is a list of big mistakes new freelancers make, and how to avoid them.
WAITING FOR CLIENTS TO MAKE THE FIRST MOVE
Waiting for potential clients to contact you is not going to result in building a successful freelancing business. You must be proactive when you’re starting on this journey and put yourself out there.
Online networking is huge, and this cannot be stressed enough. It’s a skill that takes time to learn but you will see results.
Start by reaching out to potential clients on Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t spam, instead, add value into the conversations by asking and answering questions.
Write up your ‘Power 100’ list. Think about the companies and entrepreneurs that you would love as your clients. Choose one or two each week to focus your time networking with them. An article on networking will be coming soon, so watch this space.
DON’T INCLUDE THE VALUE THEY OFFER
Most new freelancers will focus on the amount of time it is going to take to complete a project. They neglect to think about the value that they add to the client.
Is the service that you are offering going to increase their revenue? If yes, make sure you add that value into the quote. The perfect client will realize the value you add to their business and not be put off by the rate you charge.
By adding the value into the quote, you will get rid of the cheap clients, who are focusing not on valuing your skills but how much you charge.
This leads me on to the next mistake.
UNDERVALUING THEIR SKILLS
When you’re new to freelancing, it feels like you have to offer low rates to acquire your first clients. The mistake is that they are being attracted by your low rates and believe me, these are the worst type of clients.
When you increase your rates to what you should be charging, these clients will disappear. Instead, think about how much you want to earn each week and how many hours you want to work.
Also, factor in the cost of services and products that you have to use to get the work completed. This is where many new freelancers slip up because they don’t think about every aspect of the project.
Take your time to complete the quote and break down the costs for the client. They then know what you are charging them for, so no assumptions are made on the price to complete the project.
DON’T PACKAGE SERVICES TO OFFER VALUE
Many freelancers are missing out on a huge opportunity while offering only a one-off service. Instead, package your services and get creative so you can add a ton of value for your clients. If you are multi-skilled then think about how you might be able to package up your services to make them more attractive.
Let’s pretend you’re a writer and a designer who loves creating social media graphics. Package these together and offer a 1000 word article and a graphic promoting the article for Facebook and Instagram.
The content and graphics are going to increase engagement and click-through rates to the clients’ website, which will result in potential sales.
Give them something that they weren’t expecting, which adds value and also means they do not have to hire someone for graphics. Make sure you factor in the additional work and the value it will deliver.
RELYING ON FREELANCING PLATFORMS FOR WORK
When you’re starting as a freelancer it is easy to get sucked into freelance platforms like Upwork and People Per Hour. It’s true that these are good places to gain experience and find new clients, but don’t make them your primary focus.
The issue with these platforms is that clients are focusing on the rate you charge, not on the value you can add to their business. Instead of putting your livelihood in a third-party platform that you have no control over, build your independent client base.
When you’re in the freelance industry, you hear it all the time – people get banned or suspended from the platform for a reason out of their control, and it results in income disappearing overnight.
If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer, then you need to check out our guide on how to start freelancing while working full-time, you will find lots more advice and tips to get you started.