The Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make

Freelancing can be brutal. I started freelancing about 5 years ago and quickly learned what are the most common mistakes freelancers make. It takes grit, patience, and guts. But, it’s worth it.

Eventually, I was able to take the portfolio I’d built as a self-taught freelancer and land a full-time position as a UX/web designer. Now, instead of freelancing in my spare time I teach other people how to take the same path I did at Self-Made Web Designer

Here are the top 5 most common mistakes freelancers make things that I’ve learned from my own mistakes.


The Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make



It’s a bit tricky sometimes. Clients come to you and sometimes expect the world.

If business is slow or you really need the money, it’s super enticing to say, “Yes, of course!” and then try to figure it out later.

But, one of the best things you can do is properly manage expectations from a client. Especially as a solo-freelancer.

That doesn’t mean you don’t say yes to things you might not be sure about. BUT, it does mean you let the client know that it’s not your area of expertise and while you feel confident you can figure it out you might need to pull someone else in to help.


Knowing When to Say, “No”

Saying “No” is actually a very powerful tool as a freelancer.

Saying “No” to the wrong clients or projects is saying “Yes!” to the right ones.

When you’re first getting started it’s tough to be able to sniff out which clients to say no to and which to say yes.

But, there are some universal warning signs.

If a client doesn’t have a clear vision of what they actually want then they will likely be a nightmare to work with.

If a client can’t seem to make small decisions upfront they will also likely be a nightmare client to work with.

A non-committal client is worse than a non-committal relationship. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. BUT, it’s pretty bad.

Learn to sniff out which clients to run from.


Poor Project Management

As a freelancer, it’s really easy to just go with the flow.

I mean aren’t freelancers the modern-day version of a workplace hippy?

We’ve bucked the system and gone out on our own to turn around and laugh in the face of all those people stuck in an office.


As a freelancer, you have to work extra hard to keep things organized, to keep timelines updated and to keep communication standardized and consistent.

I’ve had projects where the feedback loop was essentially a SUPER long email that I had to scroll through to try and find a comment made a few weeks ago that I didn’t have time to sort out at the moment.

Inevitably, I would miss things.

So, I had to learn to develop systems for communication and project management.

Trello is a great place to keep things formatted and I’ve found that a simple google doc can go a long way when it comes to revisions.


Letting it Consume You

When you work in an office it can be easier to leave work issues AT your office.

But, when your office is your bedroom where do your go-to getaway?

If you’re not careful your entire day can be consumed with thoughts of freelancing.

How do I get more clients? Am I charging the right amount? Did I remember to make those revisions that were due today?

At the very minimum, my suggestion would be to reserve 1 day a week to rest.

Don’t open emails. Don’t take phone calls. Just rest.

You have to plan ahead for this. Sometimes clients can be super demanding. Especially if something explodes on their end.

But, if you let them know ahead of time and do some prep work then it’s a safe bet that you can take the time you need to recharge.


Not Having Fun

Most people don’t last long as freelancers.

It can be a short path to burn out if you’re not careful.

So, my main suggestion would be to learn to love the journey.

Love the victories. Love the failures. Love the process.

After all, when else in history has there been more opportunities for people to make money in their PJs in their living room?

Hope this helps!

5 thoughts on “The Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make

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