Common Mistakes Newbie Freelancers Make (and How to Avoid Making Them)

Common Mistakes Newbie Freelancers Make

Common Mistakes Newbie Freelancers Make As you examine facts about freelance graphic design jobs as compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010, you might get excited knowing the average pay for graphic designers was $43,500 per year. This breaks down to $20.92 per hour, a hefty rate to the mind of any beginner. What often is overlooked by the newbie freelancers is that these figures are for designers with experience who are working solid full-time hours or longer.

Common Newbie Freelancer Mistakes

You are wise to seek self-employment advice right off the bat, so you get off to a prosperous start and try to avoid common mistakes that end up being costly mistakes. Of the many potential pitfalls along the road to successfully making a career at freelance graphic design, the following appear to be the most commonly cited mistakes made by newbie freelancers.

  1. Money issues – spending too much, not spending enough, underestimating expenses, not having more than one income stream, working for free
  2. Spending habits – buying equipment you do not need, not saving for slow times
  3. Budgeting – not saving for taxes, not planning ahead
  4. Business operations – no business plan, not getting partial up-front payment, not paying attention to red flags or gut instinct
  5. Legal issues – assuming signed contracts will be good, collection efforts
  6. Marketing – selling to the wrong person, being too formal, no follow up, poor preparation for pitch, choosing wrong clients, depending on content mills
  7. Work quality – not creating value, rushing, making errors
  8. Organizing – taking on too much and missing deadlines, not meeting daily goals, being lazy

Solutions for Avoiding Business Mistakes

These categories are all related to making your freelance business successful, and they have one theme in common: PLANNING.

  • Plan for Success – before you make that first call seeking freelance work, at least jot down a preliminary business plan. This must include financial information, a budget, marketing plans and an assessment of your ability to provide quality work on time.
  • Follow the Plan – keep planning simple enough that you can follow your plans. Make adjustments and do a review periodically. Set goals and have a way to measure your progress towards those goals.
  • Get Help When Needed – there are many resources for writing business plans; you do not need to go it alone.

Top Priority

Your business plan is essential to have, because it details operations for all aspects of your business. Most beginning freelancers dip into this lucrative pool gently and one step at a time. If you rush without proper planning, you most likely will fail. It is a huge mistake to suddenly quit your job to be a freelancer. You get better with experience and time, and this only adds to your potential for success when you do go full time freelancing. It is important to be realistic and plan at every step along the way, especially when your time (which is money) is involved.

Meanwhile, start planning ahead, trust your instincts, and build your portfolio. When you've got some experience under your belt, contact Artisan and we'll work together to run your career like a business.

Linda E is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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