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As a freelancer you have to juggle client deadlines, current projects, new ideas, and even your own blog. This alone can cause stress, overwhelm, and feelings of wanting to quit.
Then when you add on the fact that you’re also a spouse, parent, sibling, and friend who handles all the other life to-dos, it’s easy to make mistakes.
You start missing out on opportunities to grow your business and, even more importantly, lose out on the chance to earn more money.
Here are five freelancing mistakes I’ve made and how they cost me money, so you can avoid making the same ones.
Mistake #1: Forgetting to follow up
Over the past 2.5 years of being a full-time freelancer I’ve received a ton of emails. Even now my inbox is overloaded more than ever. Because of this, there are lots of missed opportunities because I’m overwhelmed and unable to follow up with inquiries, requests, and new projects.
In the past few months, however, I’ve been putting a strategy into practice where I turn my emails into tasks and create follow up reminders for conversations that warrant it. That way I don’t have to remember (and likely forget) to follow up in a week or two.
On two separate occasions I received a $400 check from a past-due client payment and then landed a new freelancer coaching client for $260 a month. That’s a total of $660 in one month just from following up!
Ha! Imagine if I would have implemented this strategy and the art of the follow-up sooner? I could be earning more money from opportunities that were already in my inbox.
Following up, instead of giving up, can turn something you thought was a lost cause into an awesome opportunity.
Mistake #2: Not taking time off
To make my business successful I know that I must take off at least one day a week (usually on Sundays) in order to work at 100% capacity during the other days. In addition, taking naps helps me stay more focused while working, and I’m able to get my work completed much faster.
Taking a weekend off is a refueling of sorts. Taking breaks helps me recharge and work better! I’m able to troubleshoot, offer additional help to clients, negotiate new deals, and handle emergencies.
Of course you can’t plan for everything, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself. Whether you’re a new mom, moving to a new city, or working with a new client, every day brings adventures and changes you can’t expect.
Which is why it’s important to take time off, ask for extension deadlines, and be realistic with your workload. You need to have more freedom and flexibility to take on any emergencies or other issues that may pop up.
Anytime I don’t take full days, or naps throughout the week, I notice an immediate downturn in productivity, ideas, and troubleshooting strategies. At times this has lead to missed deadlines and unhappy clients, which always costs you money in the long run.
Mistake #3: Investing too much money in courses
As a business owner we all know the importance of investing time and money into learning new skills and testing out different products and apps. You’re running a fast-paced online business and there are always new and better strategies to learn.
But there comes a time when purchasing new courses and ebooks is a waste of time and money. How do you know if a course or product is worth the money? If the person who’s teaching it is earning money the way YOU want to earn money.
If their business model lines up with yours then it’s a smart investment. If it’s simply something you wish you could implement but probably never will, the course will just sit in your computer folders untouched (I’m SO guilty of this one!).
Mistake #4: Getting into a work-at-home rut
If you’re like me, you work out of your home office (or on the breakfast bar or the couch) to perform the majority of your freelance work each week.
While doing the same thing every day does help you maintain a solid productivity routine it can also stifle your creativity and cause you to miss out on earning opportunities.
Here at Careful Cents there’s a fine line between having a flexible work-at-home schedule and having a routine (or office space) that sucks the life and creativity right out of you. I’ve been guilty of this when I was in my apartment in Texas earlier this year.
It took me months to makeover my schedule and rearrange my office into a work environment that enabled my creativity and didn’t hinder it. Since then I’ve been able to host premium workshops, promote my services, and collaborate on projects with other freelancers.
In other words, a work-at-home rut was costing me money and opportunities — big time!
Mistake #5: Not asking for help
Sometimes we don’t think anyone will perform the work like we would do, or we’re just too busy to stop and explain our workflow. This is not an excuse for not asking for help or hiring someone to help pick up the slack.
You’re running a business, trying to have a social life, spending time with family, and doing a million other things. Don’t try to take on your freelance work alone. Reach out to a friend or hire a VA who can take some projects off your plate.
If nothing else, work with a coach, a mastermind group, or find some accountability partners who can help offer advice and support when you need it.
We often get bogged down by the daily to-do list and ideas swirling around in our heads, but don’t let this fact cause you to make costly mistakes and miss out on opportunities you’ll later regret.
What freelancing or business mistakes have you made in the past that cost you money?