25 Freelancing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

25 Freelancing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Freelancing for some is a way of life, and when done right it can offer a lot of freedom and satisfaction. But if you are a starter, freelancing can be very frustrating and there is always self-doubt of whether freelancing is the right path you are taking. But whether that is the right path for you or not, you will never know until you try. And even if freelancing is the perfect path for you, mistakes are part of learning and growing.

What are the mistakes to avoid as a freelance

1. Setting rate too low

If you are a new freelancer and don’t have a lot of experience to show your prospect, there is a higher chance that you are willing to take just any pay rate in exchange for an experience or higher ratings. Freelance sites like Upwork give you this opportunity to show off your good experience and high reviews on your profile.

Settings rate too low is a No-No. If I am a client and I see your profile with the lowest rate, I would suspect that you don’t know anything. Remember the saying “You get what you pay for“? Just remember good clients are not cheap, but rather, they want to get the best deal. Keep in mind that setting your rate too low will not attract good-quality clients.

2. Setting rate too high

If setting the rate too low can do some damage, setting your rate too high is one of those freelancing mistakes you want to avoid. Set your rate accordingly. Experiment. Back your profile with a stunning portfolio. If you can show that you deserve the rate you are asking for, and if you know honestly that you got the skills then your rate is reasonable.

3. Not knowing yourself

Not knowing yourself will lead you to big freelancing mistakes, and will not get you anywhere. If you want to be a successful freelancer you need to know who you really are in order to know whom you want to work for and the kind of projects you want to take. Make a list of tasks that you want to do. For example, if you love graphic design then just take graphic design projects, instead of research and data entry projects. If you love writing, then take blog writing, or copywriting projects. Remember there is always room to grow in any job. For example, if you love writing, you can take social media marketing projects. These will lead you to more writing jobs in the future. Think about transferrable skills!

4. Being everything to everyone

You got skills alright. You can build websites, know the total area of an octopus, you are a blogger with millions of Instagram followers, and Adobe PS guru. Now what? You will likely be tempted to take all clients that send you an invite to apply to their job post. Say why not? Yes, you can! But you can’t be everything. This is good only in the beginning, but as time goes by, this will lead to constant burn-out, which leads to unfulfilling, unhappy freelance lives. You don’t have all the time in the world. I guess you already knew that right? You need a break, and if you take everything and be everything this could lead to mental, and emotional problems. Don’t forget physical.

5. Dilly-Dally, life’s in an alley

Unless you work fixed rate, with freelancing you won’t get paid unless you work. You deserve a break but you can’t take a whole day’s break watching Netflix or playing video games. It’s easy to not keep track of what’s needed to be done especially when no one is monitoring or watching you. Freelancing offers a lot of freedom and flexibility, but you can’t abuse these perks! Self-discipline is a must. When you are wasting time and procrastinating you will end up with nothing done and you will lose clients who trust you to do things for their business. Times is money, don’t forget.

6. Overworking, not sleeping

You love your work, I got it! Yes, sometimes you don’t eat because you think it’s a waste of time. But one of the freelancer’s common freelancing mistakes is taking health for granted. Health is one of your biggest assets here! It’s understandable if you can’t sleep without finishing that blog post, or not responding to social media comments, but hey those can wait if you have a reasonable client. That’s why you need to pick the good ones. Track time by due dates by using productivity apps like Asana. If you have too many projects don’t take any more clients. They can understand and you are not the only freelancer on this planet.

7. Working for free

Have you heard about the word “pro bono”? Right! It is when you give your services for free. Know when to offer free service and it should be something that benefits your business. A marketing freebie for example to get subscribers in return. Giving a free eBook maybe, to have someone signup to your email list. But when a client is giving a pro bono to his customers, and you feel bad about him for giving free services that you end up giving a pro bono in connection to that service. Don’t do that! You are not your client. You have bills to pay. Your business is separate from your client’s business. Let them give pro bono all year, but get yourself paid for all hours worked.

8. Landing on a bad soil

Sometimes it is hard to get new clients with freelancing. We’ve all been there, and you are not alone when it comes to this dilemma. One day you get an invite on Upwork or other freelancing sites. The prospective client set up a Zoom meeting with you. He said he can’t make his website work and wants you to look at it to see if you can fix it. I am going to cut the story short and say, “Don’t do it!” Don’t entertain the problems of those who are not your clients yet, whose contract didn’t even begin. There is no future here. When they start to ask questions about how to fix business problems before the contract started, you are like a seed landing on bad soil. You are not getting paid for your time spent answering their questions. You are not getting paid to look at their website, guiding them the how-tos. Respectfully say no to clients like these.

9. Not quitting early

You’ve heard them say, “Don’t give up.” Giving up is equal to quitting. But sometimes quitting is necessary in order to start something new that gives your life meaning. When you feel trap and feel like quitting, you should quit. I am talking about freelancing, although you can apply this to other situations, too. When something does not feel right, quitting early is the best thing to do before. Don’t worry about getting a bad review.

10. Failing to set boundaries

Clients expect you to be flexible with your time. You are flexible, alright. But don’t let them call you in the middle of dinner time. Set boundaries and be transparent about those boundaries. Set limits! If your working schedule is only from Monday – Friday and they contact you Saturday morning, let them know you aren’t available on weekends first hand. If you choose to be available, charge them more. But let them know this first so everyone is on the same page. If they don’t agree with you or meet you in the middle, see #10.

11. Spending more than earning

When I see spending it does not include spending on yourself to gain more skills. That belongs to investing category. When you spend more than you earn such as buying software, equipment, gadgets, and subscriptions without new business coming in, you are spending too much! You can always use the free version or the cheaper version and upgrade later depending on your needs. Overspending, splurging, and not saving for rainy days is one of the big freelancing mistakes everyone must avoid.

12. Not gaining new skills

You remain stagnant when you don’t find new skills, and that is one of those mistakes when you are freelancing. So, learn something new! There are a lot of free courses online, or you can even try learning new skills at your current position. It does not need to be paid course. OR learn new tools to use for freelancing. Many of them are offering free trials for 30 days. That is enough time to gain how to use the systems and that is something you can add to your resume or Linkedin profile.

13. Taking your body for granted

Freelancing keeps you busy and leaves you with no time for yourself. Don’t forget yourself! No matter how busy you are or how much money you need that you have to work so hard to make the bucks, don’t forget to eat healthy meals and make time to exercise. Taking your health for granted is the biggest freelancing mistake you could ever commit. Remember health is wealth!

14. You underestimate your skills

Underestimating your skill is equal to having doubts about what you can do. The more work you’ve taken, the more experience you’ve gained. Which means you have improved, not the other way around. Doubting yourself and your skills can lead to taking lower pay, giving free works even if you don’t need to, and most of all feel like you’ve failed at your chosen path.

15. You are not taking a lot of breaks

Breathe and focus on the positive. Keep your mental health at the highest level. Sometimes all you need is a BREAK from all that you do and recharge before you burn yourself out. Remember why you are doing freelancing in the first place – to have more freedom and choose what to do with your time, isn’t it? Don’t let this freelancing thing take all the time of your life that you could’ve spent on other activities you love.

16. You are taking more work than you can handle

Taking more work and not extending the deadline is a big no-no. Some freelancers take more work and end up burning themselves out while thinking it’s good for business. When you do more work than you can handle, it could impact the quality of your output and hurt your reputation. If you are taking more work from a client, remember to delegate some of it.

17. Giving too much information

If your client asks about how and what, just give an overview. Don’t let him kick you in the ass by telling him the details on how to do something. Unless your business is selling courses and video tutorials, don’t tell them the secret sauce!

18. Having too many clients

“You cannot serve two masters.”

Well, you probably can, but your life will be a misery. I’ve experienced working for many clients and most of the time they want things done at the same time. It sucked, to be honest. It’s like working two jobs where your work scheduled has suddenly changed at one place and you have to deal with both or make excuses you aren’t used to.

19. Not investing on a website or blog

As a freelancer, you are dealing with or will deal with prospects online. Before they hire you they want to see previous works, a portfolio, or articles you wrote. A website is the best way to showcase these. A social media page isn’t enough, although it could be used as a secondary tool. But remember your social media pages aren’t all yours. It can be taken at any moment by the website owner. But if you have your own domain name and hosting, that is yours to keep until you stop paying for the hosting and other related frees.

20. Getting bullied, and not letting go

A bullying client? Yes, they do exist. There are many types of bullying. Once you experienced it you’ll know.

21. Not having a backup when it comes to income

Just like regular employment, freelancing can go without you expecting it. Because of this, you need to either save or have a regular job if you can’t afford to save money from your freelancing income.

22. Not specializing

Don’t be a jack of all trades. Do something that you love and be an expert on it. This gives prospects a reason to hire you, instead of the competition.

23. Being lazy and only working when inspiration strikes

This is going to be hard especially if you think you own your time and work on your terms. Freelancing isn’t all about having the freedom to be lazy. If you want to be successful you need to work on yourself, and your unfinished projects.

24. Not being proactive with your work

Show your client that you are able to think and not just following instructions. If you noticed something unusual, weird, unnecessary, and obviously wrong, say it! Don’t be scared to say something. It will feel uneasy at first especially if it isn’t part of what you are asked to do.

25. Scared to ask questions

Not asking questions when you aren’t sure can lead to failure. Not only it is a waste of time when you have to re-do your work, but also it is a waste of your client’s resources that could lead you not to get more work from the same client. It could also ruin your reputation and many more unexpected consequences.

Have you made mistakes as a freelancer? Which one among the list? Also, let me know if you made mistakes that aren’t listed here, so I can put them on my next post. Don’t forget to share this blog post to your freelancer friends so they can avoid making these freelancing mistakes.


This article is for informational purposes only. I gave no assurance regarding the accuracy or applicability of the content herein. Any advice about health, safety, business, writing, and all others is not warranted, and you are encouraged to do your own research if you have any concerns. 

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