Freelancing is a great way for anyone to work independently or make some extra money and for employers to hire talent at an affordable price and in a flexible way. However, freelancing isn’t a hobby; it is a full-time job in which you cannot succeed unless you abide by a certain set of rules.
Using freelancing marketplaces like freelancer.com, elance.com or odesk.com is a first step in making your freelancing work more professional and will be very helpful in getting your projects. However, even when using such platforms, I have seen many freelancers struggle to get projects by making some major mistakes.
This article is about three deadly mistakes freelancers often make that could easily be avoided.
Not looking pro
It is all about perception not reality! You could be the best designer, the best coder, the best SEO… if your customers cannot see that in a way or another, for them you just are not.
There are many ways to convey a positive image. Some past showcase work and positive feedback (portfolio, testimonials…), others spend a lot of time writing compelling proposals… However, many fail when it comes to producing enterprise-grade invoices in particular and admin papers in general.
YES, INVOICES! I have seen many freelancers unable to provide a decent invoice and others that couldn’t tell me how much they charged for the last project we worked on together!
The solution is simple, use tools! There are so many free and paid tools out there that can help you look more professional and make your job easier. Just imagine you are at one of your customers’ office and he asks you if he can have an invoice in order to pay you. With a cloud-based invoicing system, all you need is a computer with Internet access, and you’re done, give him the invoice and cash in the check!
Here are my favourite invoicing/billing tools:
INVOICERA, The popular one
Invoicera is probably the most widely used. It has always been reliable and handy. If you want to make online invoicing a straightforward and uncomplicated process, this is one of the best tools out there; they even have a free plan.
MAVENLINK, The comprehensive tool,
If you are ready to pay for a pro tool and get some support, this is your most comprehensive choice. Mavenlink lets you collaborate, share files, invoice, track time, and make or receive payment in a custom-branded project management solution.
HARVEST, The easy one
HARVEST is extremely easy to use and can simplify your timesheets with time tracking and fast online invoicing.
Not charging enough
Price is a major parameter in a project manager’s choice, but the quality is also a primary concern. As humans, we have been educated into thinking that quality and price are related, and that’s not always untrue.
In fact, for many people, the price is an indicator of how good your work will be. So being too aggressive on your prices and making sacrifices might have a negative effect on how good you are perceived to be.
In conclusion, my advice is to try and strike a balance between:
- The cost of the job (time and resources)
- The price the employer can pay (budget)
- The price the employer things he has to pay for a good quality work
Over-trusting your employers
Trust is part of life, and many employers need to see you trust them, and they can trust you before they can give you the project.
So you have to inspire trust and manage the customer interactions very carefully. Some people will quickly try and take you to a feeling driven relation because that’s how they do it. In fact, as a freelancer, you will certainly have to work with people from different countries, regions, cultures…
This is why I would strongly advise you to use tools like escrow to make sure you get paid and if not, can file a complaint or a dispute.
As you might already know, most freelancing platforms offer such services, but that doesn’t mean you should entirely rely on them and not filter out your partners carefully.
Of course, once the customer is a recurring one, you might want to be more flexible to speed things up and help make working together easier.