10 Mistakes to avoid for new freelance designers

July 15, 2013 • By

When you are starting out as a freelancer there are so many new things to learn, while you are perhaps or hopefully skilled at what you are offering there are many ways in which your new freelance career can become a burden really quickly. In this article we have made a list of 10 mistakes and pitfalls you need to avoid when starting out as a freelancer.

1) Not asking for a payment before starting work.

I know the topic of payment can be very intimidating when you are first starting out as a freelancer, however you will quickly learn that one of the most important things to remember when working freelance is to get some sort of down payment before starting the project. Chances are in the end after you hand over the finish product the client will disappear never to be seen or heard from again, or worse your finished product ends up on the internet without your knowledge.

2) Client asks for a unique sample of your work….DON’T!!!!

When I started working as a freelance blogger I made this mistake several times before I final caught on to the fact I was being scammed. If a client asks for a sample article or a sample of your work show them one you have previously created, if they ask for something on a specific topic, then RUN!!!! What this really says is we are looking to get this content without having to pay for it. The client will in reality ask this of all applicants and then take the best one and use that without paying a dime. This is a waste of your time, besides serious clients will be able to look at previous work and decide if you are right for their project.

3) Taking on way too much work!

I know that when you are a budding freelancer you are trying to grow your portfolio and therefore you are much more likely to say yes to several projects at the same time, however you need to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much work you take on you cannot work 24 of those hours and therefore it is better to start with a few projects until you get familiar with just how long a project will really take. If you take on too many projects at the same time then you will end up missing deadlines and as a result delivering poor quality work and in the end you will quickly get tired of freelancing. When you get a new offer before clicking the yes button sit back and do the math, does this project make sense considering the amount of time I will be spending on it.

4) We would like a site that looks like ABC site

When I was starting as a freelance web designer I was met with this question so many times, client comes with a website and says we would like a copy of this can you recreate it. There are several reasons why this is a bad idea, firstly copying another sites design is wrong from a moral standpoint, secondly it is probably also illegal. Furthermore would you really want to show future clients that all you can do is copy a website instead of creating something original? Finally if this client is already engaging in shady business policies now, do you really think they are going to be honest when working with you? Don’t be surprised if your payment goes missing in the mail.

5) Friday evening, the client asks if you can finish by Monday.

In other words they are asking you to work over the weekend, generally my advice is don’t work on weekends. The problem is once you start working during the weekend then you are much more likely to continue down this road and work all weekends and then you start working during you vacations and soon you are working 365 days of the year without any time off. Make sure your clients know that you are available to work for them during the week but that there are also limits to when you will work. If you do work late nights and weekends then perhaps consider a special weekend rate.

6) Not really caring about a project

While it may sound weird to say you should care about your projects hear me out first, if you are working on projects that you really don’t care about then your work motivation is going down the drain and the quality of the project will go right after it. You need to make sure you are working on something that you are passionate about. Sure you might make some big bucks working on a web design however if you are against the message of the website then you will most likely deliver a poor result.

7) Responding to emails at odd hours

It used to be that you had to check your email from your computer and therefore only saw them at that moment, however with the introduction of Smartphones that can access the Internet and mail accounts it seems as if we are expected to be available at all hours. However while it might be very tempting to respond to emails at odd hours, I really recommend that you leave the response until the morning unless it is extremely important that you respond this very instance, otherwise clients will expect you to respond to their emails within a minimal amount of time, as long as you are responding to emails in a timely manner then that is good.

8) Taking on a project without the correct skills

We have all done this at some point, there is this potential client who offers good money for a project, however when you look at the requirements you see that there are some things you know nothing about…this is not the time to learn a new skill, if you don’t know how to do something then be honest and tell the client you have no idea how to complete the project. Otherwise you could end up being in a lot of trouble when the client finds out you took on a project without the right skills.

9) Forgetting about finances

Let’s be honest most freelance web designers are creative in nature meaning while we create killer web designs some of us are not too good with numbers. It is really easy to simply forget about finances and just focus on getting the work done, however if you are working fulltime as a freelancer then this is your sole form of income and that means everything you make has to cover things such as rent and food, if you have no idea how much money is in your bank account then how will you know if you are making enough money to make ends meet? It is really important to remember your finances.

10) Not know what you are worth

As a new freelancer it can sometimes be a little hard to know how much to charge a client. The problem is that often new freelancers will take on a project for far less than what they are really worth. You need to do your research and find out just how much a project is worth, compare your rates to experienced freelancers, if you are being underpaid then trust me at some point you are going to get tired of freelancing without getting paid what you deserve.

I am sure there are many other mistakes, if you think we forgot one then feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.


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