Courtesy of the Freelance folder.
Spooky Freelancing Habits
Are you engaging in scary freelance practices? Check out the following list:
- Not researching your client. You’d better believe that your client researched you before they hired you. Why wouldn’t you do a little work and research them?
- Not asking for a payment up front. For a new client, you should ask for at least 50% of money for the project up front. This ensures that you will get paid at least something.
- Starting work before there’s a written agreement in place. Contracts are important, but if you don’t get a contract at least get it in writing. Nobody’s memory is perfect.
- Starting work before you understand what the client wants. This one’s easy. Don’t agree to do something unless you understand what the client wants.
- Trying to be the lowest priced freelancer in your specialty. Let’s face it, really low prices are scary. It means that you’re going to struggle to make ends meet.
- Working for exposure or some other undefined future promises. How valuable is exposure, really? In most cases, a future promise is equivalent to working for free.
- Not checking over your work carefully before submitting it to the client. Too many mistakes are bad for business and can lose you a client.
- Not managing your time well. Find a time management system that works well for you and stick to it. You can tell if it’s working by whether or not you meet your deadlines.
- Not maintaining an online presence. In this environment, an online presence is really not optional. Get online and get involved.
- Failing to monitor your reputation. Do you care what your clients are saying about you? If you care about your freelancing business, take the time to find out.
- Taking an excessive amount of time to respond to a client. How long do you make a prospective client wait before you answer them? (Hint: Over eight business hours is too long.)
- Complaining or griping publicly. How do you conduct yourself online? Do you come across as being pleasant or grumpy? Would you want to work with you?
- Not investing in updating your skills. Technology is changing. It’s important for freelancers to stay current in their field by learning all they can.
- Working on outdated equipment. The machine you started your freelance business on will be outdated in a year or two. Budget for upgrades.
- Failing to keep track of your business expenses during the year. Business expenses are tax deductible (at least in the U.S.). Be sure to keep good records.
- Forgetting to take into account the amount of time a project will really take. Don’t try to cram too many projects into too little time.
- Not getting help when you need it. Whether it be from another freelancer, or another type of specialist, sometimes the best thing you can do is ask for help.
- Playing computer games and surfing when you should be working. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean that you can get away with slacking off.
- Not taking enough breaks or scheduling time for vacations. Everyone needs to rest from time to time, and that includes freelancers.
- Procrastinating. Avoid the scary habit of putting projects off. If you can, work ahead on your projects so that an emergency doesn’t catch you by surprise.
- Panicking. When something goes wrong in your freelancing business, stay calm. Panicking never solved a problem.
- Not following up on leads. It’s easy to let leads slip through the crack when you’re busy. Following up on leads could be the difference between feast and famine.
- Not negotiating an additional fee for services out of the original scope. Keep an eye on your project’s scope and don’t let it creep too much or the project could wind up costing you money.
- Not making time for your family. Your business is important, but you’ll wind it regretting it if you ignore your family and friends.
- Missing your deadlines. Deadlines are usually there for a reason. Try to stick to them and at least notify the client if you think you’ll be late.
The Really Scary Stuff
As if the scary list above wasn’t enough, there’s the really bad freelancing practices. These are scary mistakes that I’m sure no Freelance Folder reader would ever make:
- Bad mouthing a client (by name) in social media or on your blog. Unless you have evidence that the client is in fact a scammer you’re better off keeping your gripes to yourself.
- Plagiarizing someone else’s work. In a perfect world, every freelancer would realize that plagiarism is wrong (and illegal).
- Bad mouthing another freelancer (by name) to a client. Oddly enough, putting down your competition to the client winds up making you look bad.
- Dropping out of sight in the middle of a project. Nothing says unreliable like breaking off all communication with your client.
- Don’t have an emergency fund. You may be able to get by without an emergency fund if you never have an emergency, but why take the chance?
To Sum It All Up
If you’ve been reading Freelance Folder for a while, you probably know most of what I just listed. We’ve written posts on how to succeed and posts on how to fail. However, everybody needs a reminder from time to time (I know that I do). Look over the list above to make sure that you haven’t slipped into any scary bad habits.