Whether you fancy yourself an entrepreneur or a freelancer, you work for yourself, which can be both good and bad.
After all, there’s nothing better than calling the shots … but there’s also nothing worse than a client randomly dropping you.
You can buy all the books, attend all the seminars, and read all the articles you want, but if you’re doing the things below, then you’re setting your freelancing career at a huge disadvantage.
You’re not charging high enough rates or timescales
It happens a lot at the beginning of a freelance career. You’re trying to get work and will take any contract that’s thrown your way, so you take on a client that only pays $10 for 1,000-word articles. If these articles take two to three hours to complete, then you’re only making $3 to $5 an hour.
While that mind sounds like an extreme case, freelancers have worked for less (and many times for free) and their careers were killed because they weren’t making enough money to sustain their living.
At the same time, it’s important to come up with an accurate timescale for projects. If a project takes you longer than expected, then it’s taking up more of your time and your hourly rate is dropping.
A good practice: Figure out how much money you need (and want) to make and adjust your rates based off of that data.
Your income isn’t steady
This could be the result of a number of different things: Your contract ends. You don’t have enough work. A client doesn’t pay you on time (or at all). You don’t focus on the pitching side of your business as much as you should.
Some of these things you can control, such as pitching more clients, but some you can’t, like a client paying you late (however, you can have late fees built into contracts to protect you).
Income is arguably the most important aspect of a freelance business. Sure, we all want to make our mark on the world with our work and please our clients, but without an income, you won’t be able to sustain your business (or pay your bills).
Your schedule is ruining your productivity and causing stress
Whether your hourly rates are taking a dive because it’s taking you longer to finish your work, or your schedule is ruining your productivity because you aren’t working when you have the most brain power, your freelance career could be suffering.
Many experts will say your brain functions best in the morning and that’s when you should work, but it’s up to you to figure out when you’re most productive. It’s also up to you to come up with a schedule and protect your time by telling clients when you can and can’t work.
Productivity gurus might push for an unstoppable (and, frankly, unnecessary) morning routine, but not everyone has the same priorities and responsibilities.
If you’re constantly changing your schedule the day-of, you’re ruining your productivity and wasting time. You’ll never start that awesome liquor store review you had in mind or finish an ebook for an entrepreneur.
Poor time management can lead to stress as well as a sinking freelancing career.
You reflect and analyze but don’t take action
Many people have good intentions going in but they can’t seem to turn their perfect plan into a profitable income. They reflect and analyze, but never take action.
As a freelancer, you always have to take action, whether it’s writing your long-awaited story on assisted living benefits, posting infographics on influencers’ Instagram pages, or pitching new clients.
You no longer have a boss looking over your shoulder, but that just means you have to hold yourself accountable. Freelancing can be a very lucrative and fulfilling career, but the safety net of a company giving you work, PTO, bi-weekly checks, and other benefits are gone.
As they say, actions speak louder than words, and that’s especially the case for freelancers.
There are many reasons freelancers fail. Sometimes it comes down to competition. Other times its just poor luck. If you can escape the common freelancer paths above, you will be better off and set for success in the freelance world.