When starting off freelancing, common mistakes occur. Even if you’re a veteran amongst the freelancing ranks, you may still possess a few blind spots. Freework centralizes all your much-needed documents, like invoices, client information, and timesheets. While we give freelancers freedom to live their lives, we want them also to have a successful client relationship.

Here are the most common mistakes freelancers make, with suggestions on how to improve if you recognize any personal die-hard habits.

Table of Contents

Be Difficult to contact

Working remotely is often the default work mode of freelancers. Some companies may inquire whether some office time is possible, but in general, working away from the rest of the team is the de facto strategy. Part of the reason why many people freelance is because they want an office-free work life.

But you’ve got to be easy to reach.

If email is how you and your boss connect, then be sure to respond quickly. If a communication software is the company choice, then always stay up to date with co-workers.

This could be your personal blind spot. Your boss loves your work and raves about your contributions, but they’ve mentioned that emails don't get answered. What to do?

For important team members, like the person you work with on a daily basis and your big boss, set alerts for every time an email lands in your inbox. All you have to do is respond. If you work in Gmail, it automates responses, so you can quickly confirm you’ve received their email without the hassle of thinking out a response. If your company works with a particular software, check if there is an parallel app. Not only do you get double alerts (via email and app), but you’ll be able to respond whilst on the go.

Saying "Yes" too often

Freelancing can be a difficult challenge; you may have to balance several client’s needs at once. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying “yes” to too many projects. Common though patterns resemble, “I’m sure I could fit that in; I would just to work a bit more in the evenings and a few hours on the weekend”. Or “I should take on any as many projects as possible, in case the workload thins out later on”. While it’s understandable that you may wish to take as many projects as insurance for less-profitable seasons, your current work could be suffering. The research shows multi-tasking ultimately leads to failure. If that occurs, you may be at risk at losing your current clients. In an ironic move, because you’re worrying about less work in the future, your current clients may become a bit unhappy if the quality of your work suffers. What to do?

First, be honest with yourself about how many hours you can actually concentrate to do quality work. Write down how many hours you need to recharge every day to keep a healthy work-life balance. This particular case shows why freelancers have to charge more than employees; there’s less certainty about working in the future. Be sure to employ rates that will give a bit more cushion during those seasons of freelancing when you have fewer clients. If people really do want to work with you, despite you saying you have no time, consider charging a premium for your work. You may be taking more time from your clients, but also may be taking from your own personal time. Therefore charging a premium will be a way to hedge other offers whilst keeping your work week balanced.

Working till its 'perfect'

“Perfectionism” is a characteristic within people that set unrealistic standards for themselves and always find the flaw in their work. It’s not an entirely fatal flaw. It can be useful if  only a minimal part of a person’s work ethic is affected. According to research, there are two kinds of perfectionism:

  • Adaptive perfectionism, which allows a person to focus on internal striving, remain open to feedback, but allows knows when to stop obsessing
  • Maladaptive perfectionism, which causes that awful anxiety and usually grows from a deep worry of failure

The first can be helpful to a freelancer, but maladaptive perfectionism can be the worst—especially to someone who earns their living by balancing several client’s needs. For companies, freelancers who struggle with perfectionism are costly to a workplace in terms of deadlines, time, and burn out.

The correlation between this kind of perfectionism and poor performance is incredible. You want to deliver great work to a client, but if that means poor quality, this could put in serious danger of losing a client. What to do if you struggle with anxiety-induced behavior?

Associate Professor at York St. John University Dr. Andy Hill, suggests gaining perspective on your actual work.

“Write down what an ideal performance, a good performance and an acceptable performance would look like. Then pick up what you’re up against in terms of time and resources and pick the goal that’s most realistic.”

Not align your work with the vision of the company

It’s easy to get caught up doing the rote nuts-and-bolts of your particular work. When you’re working remotely, you may lose sight of the overall goals your clients want to achieve. You may say, “I’m just de-bugging a customer service platform; I’m not changing the company’s mission”. While true, it’s important to keep in mind the overall strategy of where the company wants to see itself. A smart freelancer not only grasps of future planning, but envisions on how they personally can contribute to helping a company get there. What to do?

This is a hard mental battle for the average freelancer. After all, there’s no guarantee you will be working with the company next quarter or next year (depending on your contract), so why think about the company? A professional freelancer will align their work with future planning and intelligently contribute to how a company can optimize their marketing campaign or their system roll-out. Recommend strategies, content pieces, or potential customers. Show that you understand the direction the company is moving—while keeping in mind the trends going on in your industry, or greater culture.

Client-freelancer relations can be a tough relationship to balance—but one of the most successful. Because it’s work based on results, both parties can be incredibly efficient in delivering quality work. Avoid these common mistakes to secure a mutually-satisfying and successful relationship with every one of your clients.

Freework is the operating system for a freelancer’s entire work life. We centralize all documents into one simple space and make it accessible on every device.

We deliver the “free” in “freelancer”, giving all self-employers the peace of mind to explore and succeed.