3 Deadly Mistakes Freelancers Often Make

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.

Optimizing for Conversion, Ignoring Consumption

We have worked with many demand or lead generation companies over the past 10 years. Most of the time when they come to us, they ask us to help them increase the number of people they convert into a free trial, a free download, or to create an account.

Conversion Isn’t an Event, it’s a Process

We always like to focus first on increasing the number of leads towards the top of the sales funnel. However, without the next step, consumption, the companies don’t necessarily achieve their better but usually unstated goal of increased revenue.

This is the same fuzzy focus that has companies intent on getting more clicks to their PPC ads just so they can show the increased traffic numbers without focusing on converting that visitor into a lead or sale. To tell you the truth it is not as hard to get visitors to take the uncommitted step, as it is getting them to actually use and consume the product.

When you optimize for customer experience you really need to take the whole scenario from awareness (clicking your ad) through conversion and ultimately to consumption (and ideally to evangelism) into account.

An Example of Trying to Create Consumption

Yesterday I received this email from TimeBridge. I set up an account when I received an invitation from a friend at another company to setup a meeting. You know how challenging it is to coordinate a meeting amongst several people using email, etc. Well I responded to his request and I really enjoyed the experience (partially because it was seamless using my Mac and Entourage) so I decided to setup an account. I even told several people about it. But I was never converted enough to incorporate it into my work flow.

I must have setup countless meetings since then all without the use of TimeBridge. What do you think went wrong? I converted, did a little worth of mouth for them but never consumed the product. Somehow the persuasive momentum was lost.

This is one way to try to initiate consumption. Use emails to try and prod engagement, add a bit of bribery (such as a contest for a $10 Starbucks card) and see how it works. We’ve seen several other really good examples over the years, what is the best method you have ever seen?

Attraction, Conversion, Consumption: Why You Need To Separate the Trio!

Go to a pond where you can visibly see a lot of fish. Take a stone and throw it in the water. Notice what the fish do? Yes, they race towards the stone in anticipation of a feeding frenzy?

Of course, you know what happens next.

The fish figure out you’re just teasing, and with disappointed guppy faces, they swim away. Um… if you continue to throw stones, they’ll keep coming back, till they work out it’s useless to humour you any more.

7 Signs Your PPC Campaigns Needs Optimization

Are you getting the most from your pay per click (PPC) campaigns? How would you know? Are you as efficient at getting clicks and converting visitors as you would be carrying water with a leaky bucket? Let me give you 7 signs to tell that you are not optimizing your PPC spend:

1. You use the set it and forget it strategy to PPC. If you setup your PPC campaigns months ago and haven’t adjusted a thing in it, I can practically guarantee you have room to improve it. The seasons change, traffic flow and traffic quality change, even Google’s Quality score changes.

Don’t Overlook These Common Cart Mistakes

I’ve seen a few big shopping cart no-nos lately, so I just want to alert Grok readers to them–they’re pretty easy to avoid:

The Homepage Dump: You add an item to your cart and are thrown into the checkout process. You’ve got another item on your shopping list, so you click the little link that says “Continue Shopping.” You’re dumped on the homepage. This is especially bad when you’ve done a lot of searching and results-filtering, and now it’s all gone. It really does feel like you’ve just been dumped! I can’t think of any good reason why the homepage is the proper place to land a visitor to continue shopping.

Bridging the Psychic Pain Gap

When people are confident of their next paycheck, they have a predisposition to buy most of their “because I want it” items that are within financial reach (and maybe even just out of reach as well – hence the credit card). That’s because their psychic pain threshold for buying is just above their actual expendable income level.

Here’s how to visualize it: there are usually, say, 5-7 “extra-budgetary” purchases a person might have in mind for the next two months or so: nicer sunglasses, or an expensive wireless mouse, or shoes or some type of clothing, etc. And most of those things will actually get purchased within a rolling 2-3 month time frame, without the buyer feeling that any of them represent a considered purchase – even if the sunglasses or shoes might be in or above the $150 range.

Why You’d Be Smart to Let a Stranger Select Your Baby Stroller

There I was at Babies”R”Us, way back in 2003, manhandling different strollers and finding myself more eager to read the amazon.com reviews than to kick the tires myself – and it had nothing to do with wanting to avoid the in-store shopping experience and everything to do with wanting to make the best purchase decision possible.

So why would I want to read reviews when I could examine the stroller first hand?

A Mental Model for Persuasion Architecture

Recently, my erudite buddy Bryan posted a comment on an e-consultancy forum. His observations included a brief discussion of the value of Persuasion Architecture – which, as you dear readers know, is our synthetic philosophy for creating and managing your online presence. Bryan got a comment from a fellow named Chris, who said,

“I can’t help but think of persuasion architecture as one of those multiple choice ending books that I last read twenty years ago – ‘turn to page 121 if you think A, turn to page 84 if you think B…’ etc. There are a number of scenarios on each page and a persuasive writer would be able to channel readers towards the right decision.”

Teasing Search Engine Advertising from the Soup

Alphabet soup is on the menu today, except I’m going to ask you to search among the floating pasta for these letters: S, E, A, O and M. Grab three Ss and three Es while you’re at it. The rest you can eat … and while you are slurping away, I’ll talk about some search engine stuff that is terribly important to how you manage your online marketing efforts.

Landing Pages: Catch Me, If You Can

Folks have made a habit of emphasizing the home page of your Web site as the Sacred Portal through which your visitors enter the cyber-structure of your business. As if all other avenues of entry were blocked, and the process could only start at Square One.

Yeah, right. Everyone knows the process can start at any square that is readable by the search engines. And you can directly influence the starting square through pay-per-click advertisements and email campaigns. It is possible your visitors can arrive and start digging deeper into your conversion process without ever bothering over your homepage.