Career Advice – Freelance Mistakes To Avoid

Are you itching to break out of your "regular ol' job" routine and be your own boss? If you've been bitten by the freelancing bug, then you're probably more than a little excited to get started. But you're probably also more than a little concerned about whether or not freelancing is really the life for you. And, even if it is, your fear of the unknown might already keeping you up at night.

Don't let a few challenges and a little lack of information keep you from launching your own business and enjoying all the benefits of working for yourself. Check out these four practical ways to avoid common freelancing pitfalls, and you'll be a success from day one.

Get yourself clients from the get-go

Problem: The idea of waiting for your phone to ring (or email app to beep) while staring at your dwindling bank account is the stuff of freelancing nightmares. As much as you want to be in charge of your own destiny, you don't want to be taking out a loan for groceries.

Solution: Build a roster of clients or a collection of work before you quit your day job. Spend some time emailing potential customers to let them know what you can do for them or dig into a few of the many online freelancing sites for projects to bid on. Once you're sure that your business will bring in some income, you can feel confident in getting started. And don't forget to set your prices so that you're not selling yourself short!

Cover yourself with a contract

Problem: You've got the customers, but you're afraid that they won't come through with the cash or that you might be liable if mistakes are made. You want your own business, but you aren't looking for legal problems.

Solution: Protect yourself by getting it in writing. As much as you love your clients, you need to have actual proof of what you've agreed to do and when and what they've agreed to pay you. The contract doesn't necessarily have to be long or complicated, but it should detail the work, the schedule, and the payment terms. And, if you want to be really sure, it's definitely worth investing a bit in having a reliable lawyer draw up a general contract you can use with most of your clients.

Beat the "all-on-your-own" blues

Problem: Freelancing can be a real contradiction. You can stop worrying about office politics and a boss looking over your shoulder. But you don't want to go days on end without human contact, and you'd love someone to bounce ideas off now and then.

Solution: Create your own chances to keep in touch. If you just want some occasional company, you can arrange to meet friends for coffee breaks or lunch. Or, if you work best with a bit of "buzz" around you, you can set up your office at a co-working space or spend part of each week working at your favorite cafe. If you need support or advice as you navigate the freelance world, turn to a professional organization, meetups for entrepreneurs, or events like seminars or conferences to make contact with other like-minded business people.

Keep yourself organized

Problem: When you work as an employee, your company provides you with the tools and systems you need to do your job. But, when you're the one and only, you're responsible for finding reasonably-costed solutions to make sure you're on top of everything.

Solution: Take advantage of all of the free or low-priced options out there today. Project management apps like Trello, accounting services like FreshBooks, and time tracking software like Toggl will help you wrangle all the aspects of your business and ensure your freelance success without breaking the bank. And don’t forget the wealth of free online freelancing guides and resources you can take advantage of to ensure your freelance success from the start.

Adda Birnir is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.

Join the Discussion