We all can make mistakes when we’re starting our business. But, honestly, how can we blame ourselves? It is almost a given. Everybody needs to make mistakes to learn and grow for themselves. I am not saying that you can’t take advice from others before you begin. Inevitably you will make mistakes, but you may as well hit the ground running.
An online freelancer business is a type of online business where you can provide services to businesses and individuals. This includes things like content creation, social media management, virtual assisting, and other jobs that can be done remotely. Whether you are launching your online freelancer business or just want to freelance as a side hustle, it is important to avoid some of the most common mistakes.
Here are some common mistakes that freelancers make.
1. You Don’t Have a Low Quality Blog or Website.
It seems silly, but many freelancers who are just starting rely solely on freelancing websites such as Freelancer, Fiverr and Upwork. This is a good way to get yourself out there. However, having your own blog or website can take things to the next level. An online presence other than a freelancing site is one of the most important tools an online freelancer can have.
If you have just started an online freelance business and have not created a blog or website for yourself, you are potentially missing hundreds of opportunities. A blog is where you can showcase your work and show your expertise. It makes it easy for your client to make a quick judgment of you and assess whether you are the right fit for what they desire.
Your blog or website doesn’t necessarily need to be built by a designer. Many platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress allow you to create a professional looking site with minimal effort.
2. You Don’t Ask for Referrals/Testimonials.
Referrals and testimonials are what drive your business forward. It is great to network with other freelancers and highlight that you are looking for work so they can refer you to potential clients. However, make sure that you are true to your word and take the referral seriously – otherwise, the word might get out that you are incompetent.
In regard to testimonials: after you’ve completed a job, make sure you ask for a testimonial or review of your work immediately. The greater reviews you have, the more credibility your business will eventually gain.
3. You Aren’t on Top of Your Invoicing.
Invoicing is an essential aspect of running a freelance business. However, most new freelancers avoid taking this part of the business seriously. An invoice acts as a legal document that is also proof of the services provided and the amount that the client owes for those services. Without proper invoicing, it can be difficult to keep track of the money that is owed to you and to ensure that you are paid on time. Additionally, invoicing helps to establish professional credibility and can help to build trust with clients.
Furthermore, proper invoicing can also help to avoid disputes and misunderstandings about the scope of work and payment terms. Overall, invoicing is an important tool for managing cash flow, building a good reputation, and maintaining accurate records for tax purposes.
Unorganized invoicing can be very tricky when it comes to crunch time (aka tax time). It is crucial to begin your business with a solid foundation of great habits to drive you forwards. If you aren’t on top of your invoicing and have a in place great system, it’s simple: you won’t get paid. All of that hard work will be in vain! Don’t fret – there are accounting apps that can help, such as “Wave.”
4. You Are Overconfident.
The worst thing for potential clients is someone too big for their britches. It is ok to be confident, but overconfidence could be detrimental to your career. It could be discouraging if you are too overconfident and take on something you are not ready for, only to fall short. So my suggestion is to slowly build your career from the ground up and take on the big jobs when you are ready and used to the stress a little more.
5. You Haven’t Decided on a Particular Niche.
Finding your niche in any online business is important. This is also true for freelance online businesses. Finding your niche means that you have narrowed down your offering to a specific service or services. Niches are also important because you are able to eliminate offers that may be attractive but are outside of your area of expertise.
I’d suggest narrowing in on your niche as soon as possible. When you have a niche, it is generally because you find that topic more interesting; therefore, you will gain knowledge quicker. That way, you will be able to produce faster. You will want to earn more because you have a lot of care and understanding in that field. It is common to have multiple niches – but generally, the most successful freelancers narrow it down to just a few.
6. Not Asking Good Questions.
Asking good questions can help you to better understand the client’s needs and goals for the project. This can help you to create a more effective and tailored solution that meets their specific requirements. Also, asking questions can help to identify any potential roadblocks or challenges that may arise during the project, allowing you to address them proactively. You don’t want to be surprised by an unexpected expectation that could’ve been avoided before you even began.
Another benefit of asking questions is that it can help to build a stronger working relationship with the client. By showing that you are interested in their needs and invested in the success of the project, the client is more likely to view you as a valuable partner and to be open to your ideas and suggestions.
Finally, asking questions can help to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the client’s expectations, which can help to avoid misunderstandings or miscommunication further down the line. This can help to prevent delays and additional work that may arise from unclear instructions or conflicting expectations.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for advice. I always ask my clients for their honest opinion on my work because it helps me produce better content in the long run. I can improve through others’ feedback. That being said, you don’t want to bombard a client with questions. Chances are they are very busy – so make the questions count. Example: What is your company’s reputation, or what are your terms and methods of payment?
7. Overthinking and Not Believing in Yourself.
As a freelancer, you should be happy to embark on this brilliant journey. Yes, you will have some undesirable days, but you will have some great days also. It will be difficult, but it will also be rewarding. Try not to overthink too much. It is imperative to cultivate strong stress management skills and to talk yourself up because you rule!
It can be daunting beginning an online freelance business and it is often tricky. However, your business has the potential to be extremely lucrative with the right attitude and skills. There are many in demand freelancing skills out there. So if you’re ready, take the leap! It is the time to make mistakes and discover your own unique way of approaching freelancing. Good luck and remember to enjoy yourself!
This article was first published in April 2022 but has been updated and expanded.