There are lots of resources, suggestions, recommendations, and tips out there for new freelancers. I researched and read many as I was preparing to make the leap to full-time freelancing. Most of them talked about things that you “should” do. But, did you ever wonder if there were things that you shouldn’t do? This post dives into 7 things not to do as a new freelancer.
I love freelancing so much that I started this blog to help others start a freelance side hustle of their own. (My freelance side hustle is now my full time freelance gig!) It took me a while to gather the courage to finally try freelancing, but I’m oh-so-glad that I did! I feel so blessed that I’ve found professional and financial success, as well as a sense of freedom to pursue additional interests (like this blog).
As you might know, lots of resources will say what you should do as a new freelancer. (I loved reading articles on the topic when I was getting ready to step into the freelancing world.) But, there are some things that you should not do as a new freelancer. Take a look at 7 key tips about what not to do as a new freelancer.
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1. Don’t Underestimate Your Skills
One of the biggest favors that you can do yourself as a new freelancer is to know your skill set. This not only includes what skills will drive your freelancing efforts, but also the level of skills you possess.
Don’ underestimate the totality of your skills as a freelancer. Here’s what I mean by that. Let’s say you’re a content writer. You know that you have outstanding writing skills and the ability to write for a variety audiences, on a variety of topics. That’s awesome! However, before you decided to pursue your freelance writing side hustle, you spent years in a customer service role. Now, you’re thinking “What the heck does customer service have to do with writing?”. Answer: A lot.
Your skills that you’ve accumulated to this point will likely have great value to your new freelance pursuit. In this example, if you have good customer service skills, you already know how important customer service is to the success of a business. Apply those skills to your own side hustle, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
Take time to assess your total skill set – those that are obvious to your new side hustle and those that might not seem as related. Then, ask yourself how you can apply what you already know to your freelancing pursuits to add value.
2. Don’t Undervalue Your Time
As a freelancer, you get paid when you work – and only when you work. In other words, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. It’s important to view your time as a truly valuable commodity.
You’ll spend a fair amount of unpaid time looking for and pursuing opportunities, especially when you’re starting out. Use your time carefully and strategically. Ask yourself how much value you can expect to possibly gain from your freelance activities, and prioritize those activities that have the most potential to drive revenue. I like to separate tasks into two main categories – “nice to do” and “need to do”. (Guess which tasks I focus on first and most?)
3. Don’t Neglect Your Day Job
If you are working on your freelance side hustle part-time, while still working a regular job, by all means – don’t neglect your day job.
I left full-time employment all together to pursue freelancing. It’s worked out well for me. However, this isn’t the path that everyone can or should take. I can say that if I had decided to gradually build my freelance business while working full-time, it wouldn’t have been at the expense of my regular job. I like to eat and live indoors, so the job that pays for those things.
Craft your plan and set reasonable goals for your freelancing business to make your side hustle dreams a full time reality.
4. Don’t Overextend
Resist the temptation to say yes to every opportunity that crosses your radar. That’s hard to do. Especially, when you’re just getting started as a freelancer, and you want success and the freedom that comes with freelancing so badly.
But, the risk with taking on any project that’s offered to you – even if it’s not right for your skills, plans or goals – is that you’ll overextend yourself. Then, when a project comes along that could really move the needle for your freelance business, you could be either too busy or too exhausted to say “yes”.
Know your short and long-tem goals for your freelance business, and work strategically toward those goals.
5. Don’t Forget to Ask for the Job
Before I became an instructional designer and blogger, I spent many years in sales-related roles. I kind of fell into sales. I was pretty successful, and I didn’t hate it. But, I realized that I didn’t love it either. This revelation led me to where I am today. (And, I plan to do this until I can’t anymore!)
I share this because the most valuable skill that I learned in sales is that you have to ask for the business. Seriously, you can totally sell someone on your product or service, but if you don’t ask them for the business, it’s unlikely you’ll get it.
6. Don’t Fail to Follow Up
This is so simple, yet often overlooked. Don’t fail to follow up with leads on potential opportunities. This might be an email or text, but sometimes a good, old-fashioned phone call can add a personal touch.
Whatever approach, plan to follow up with those leads.
7. Don’t Forget to Ask for Referrals
Happy clients are your one of your best resources. If you successfully complete a job for a client, ask them if they know anyone else who might benefit from your services.
Also, be sure to gather testimonials when possible and add those to your website. (Wait! What?! You don’t have a website yet? Learn how to get yours set up here.)
If you’re ready to fine-tune your freelancing goals, then check out my FREE video course – Create Your Best Smart Goals. You can sign up and learn how to create effective SMART goals with this self-paced video course and workbook.
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