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Here are three big mistakes you can make as a freelancer and how to avoid them

  • Freelancers in all fields — but especially creative and editorial spaces — are on the rise, and there’s no end in sight to these increases.
  • Because freelancing is an independent business, mistakes are inevitable.
  • Be sure to start your freelance career with the need for business skills, market knowledge and strong ambition in mind.

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Freelance has increased significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is foreseen continue like this.

Many freelancers aren’t just self-employed, they’re also self-taught. Generally speaking, this applies in the case of creative workers, such as writers, artists and graphic designers.

Being a creative freelancer can be a deeply challenging journey, but being self-taught naturally leads to many mistakes.

Most of these mistakes are completely preventable. Here are some common mistakes freelancers make and how to avoid them:

Not understanding business and marketing principles

Self-employment has broad appeal. However, 61 percent of self-employed people do it by choice, and 51 percent say they will not return to traditional ways of working.

33 percent of freelancers work in the creative sector, which involves jobs in the visual arts or music. Likewise, journalism and writing are 17 percent of independent workers.

Creatives and copywriters rarely have business or marketing skills. To succeed in freelancing, however, these skills are essential.

Marketing is the lifeblood of every business – small or large, independent or traditional – simply because until a sale occurs, no other system you have in place will be used. There will be no invoices generated, no payments to process and no external contractors hired. (The Ultimate Guide to the Independent by Yuwanda Black)

When you get into freelancing, the exciting freedom and creativity you have can lead you to overlook some of the more esoteric components of freelancing. Namely, the fact that, to make a profit, you have to treat freelancing as if it were a business.

It can also happen due to the uplifting feeling accompanied by the prospect of getting paid for your craft. But, in any case, this prospect will not become reality without effective sales and marketing strategies.

Studies show that an important factor in being successful with this strategy is ensuring that you have a functioning website with high quality products and unambiguous terms that potential customers can agree with.

Likewise, personal branding (creating logos and a unique aesthetic to represent your services) is strongly correlated to the professional success of freelancers.

There are ways around this mistake, like taking online courses to learn business and marketing principles. Likewise, you can decide to outsource these tasks, which works pretty well if you have the capital to do so.

Not knowing the freelance market

Classically, the job market consists of online job sites. However, this is only partially the case for freelancers of all kinds.

Freelance work can be found on popular job boards such as LinkedIn and Indeed, but the job that pays the best and gives you the most job opportunities can be found elsewhere.

This may include contacting editors directly if you are a writer or journalist, or contacting companies that may need your services in other forms of freelance work.

For writers in particular, a good strategy is to search for associate editors – which can easily be done via LinkedIn.

The worst thing that can happen when you reach out with a pitch to a potential client is a rejection.

But there are less strenuous methods of entering the market – methods that don’t require as much unpaid work to be spent on acquiring a job. Some essential and popular marketplaces for freelancers include:

Each of these platforms is an opportunity to connect with potential customers. Likewise, it’s an opportunity to connect with other freelancers that you can learn from and benefit from through networking.

Not having enough ambition

It’s ambitious enough to start freelancing in any capacity. Pursuing any level of freelance success is complex and requires an immense amount of patience and self-discipline.

Getting started is just one piece of the independent puzzle. There is a hierarchy of ambition for freelancers, and the higher you climb it, the more likely you are to achieve long-term success.

Many writers, for example, resist presenting to major publications for lack of professional experience. Yet there are endless examples of freelancers who started their careers in such an attempt to be accepted.

The ambition for independents is, in many ways, subtle. For examplecharging higher payout rates and marketing your brand on social media.

According to harvard business review“Those who shape their work for maximum enjoyment are 77% more productive and 29% less stressed.”

Making your professional life as pleasant as possible for your personality can make a positive difference in your productivity and well-being as a freelancer – being one of the most ambitious tasks you can set yourself as a freelancer.

Conclusion

Freelancers in all fields — but especially creative and editorial spaces — are on the rise, and there’s no end in sight to these increases. But, because it’s such an independent company, mistakes are bound to happen.

If you start your freelance career with the need for business skills, market knowledge and strong ambition in mind, the sky really is the limit to your potential for success.

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