5 mistakes I’ve made as a freelancer (1st year)

When I started to work as a freelancer in November 2020, I had no clue about what to expect. As I had no one around me who was freelancing, I tried to contact people on Linkedin, people who were in the fields I was interested in, so they could share their vision of the job with me. It was nice and all, but nothing compares to actually doing it for yourself, right ?

Step by step, I learned to be a freelancer, and as I learned, I made mistakes, like everyone else. Let me share with you a few mistakes I’ve made, so they maybe you don’t have to make them, too.

#1. Focusing on one client at a time when you’re negociating for a mission/contract. At first, I thought that I should give my all to every potential client I was interacting with. I thought I had to take it one step at a time and thus, one client at a time. And I was so wrong ! There’s nothing wrong with being in contact with multiple potential clients at the same time, that’s how you’re going to fill your agenda ! Not everyone you’re going to prospect or get in contact with is going to hire your services, so don’t stop prospecting, don’t stop speaking with other people. Of course, when you’re signing a big contract, you will have to give extra attention to this client, but don’t close all the doors just because you think you’ve found the golden one ! Which leads me to my second mistake :

#2. Focusing on just one single client. Don’t read me wrong, of course it’s nice to have a client who gives you enough work that you feel like you don’t need anyone else. This kind of mission gives you a stable income, which means a lot when you’re a freelancer. The thing is, life happens, and the thing with freelancing is that if your client decides to (or ends up having to) take a break for your activity for x reasons, they don’t owe you anything, not even an explanation. So don’t be dependent on a single client, it could crush your revenue to zero if/when they don’t need you anymore.

#3. Not wanting to bother people. I think this is my biggest challenge as a freelancer, because I’m usually quite shy, but at least I’m doing better than a year ago haha. There’s a balance to find here : don’t go and harass people, but don’t be silent about what you do either. It’s important to try different ways to prospect, and find what works for you and your business.

#4. Thinking I could do it all, all at the same time. At the beginning, since I didn’t have any client, I thought it would be okay to develop 4 kinds of activities and see how it would go. Well, it allowed me to try them and see what worked best of course, and so in the end I narrowed it down to being a translator and author. Because it was just not possible to develop 4 activities at the same time, when there’s only me haha.

#5. Being scared of investing in your business. Depending on your activity, you may have to invest in your business, especially at the start. Since I was doing online work and putting a lot of pressure on myself to make money, I didn’t want to invest at first. At all. But I quickly realized that, I had to. I had to get a new computer, pay for a WordPress website with a domain, I also took Canva premium because I used it all the time. I got the Microsoft Office package, because I needed it to open and edit my clients’ files, and to format my own books. Even the life coaching course I bought helped me manage my business better. It doesn’t need to be thousands of dollars/euros/pounds, but think about what you need to grow, and don’t be shy about it. Just because there’s this image that as a freelancer you only need an internet connexion and a computer, doesn’t mean that it’s that easy.

Here are my main mistakes. It was hard at first, because nothing during my five years of university really prepared me for this, but I failed and I learned, and I’m still learning. My mindset has changed too, and I like that.

What about you ? How did it feel when you first starting working as a freelancer ? Which mistakes did you make ?

I hope you are all having a lovely day.

Marie.

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