My three biggest freelancing mistakes

Posted on: September 16th, 2010

We all learn from our mistakes. Here are the three I made when I first started out as a freelancer.

Mistake No. 1: Agreeing to drop my price with the promise of further work down the track

There very rarely is further work down the line and, even if there were, how would you get the client to agree to paying your usual, non-discounted rate? Also, each time you’re busy working on discounted projects, you can’t take on other work at your full price.

Mistake No. 2: Saying ‘yes’ to every project

I soon discovered there were some projects that a) I really didn’t enjoy doing and b) weren’t my forte. So I now say ‘no’ whenever such a project comes up and explain to the potential client the kind of work I do undertake. However, I don’t leave them in the lurch; I make a point of finding them a writer for whom that particular project would be right up their street.

Mistake No. 3: Not clarifying exactly which activities were covered in my quote

I quoted a new client to write an annual report and I itemised what this price included. My quote looked something like this:

  • Briefing meeting
  • Assimilating all information
  • Writing first draft
  • Progress meetings
  • Editing to final, approved copy

The problem with this was that the client in question LOVED meetings and I must have gone to about eight altogether. But my quote only said ‘Progress meetings’. I now state exactly how many meetings are included – and the location. Because if a client has a London office and a Manchester office and decides to hold all the meetings in Manchester, that means a whole day out for me, as opposed to about three hours for a London meeting. (Note: I always charge for travel time.)

The other thing I now state is how many sets of amends my quote includes, with a proviso that says, any subsequent sets of amends will be charged at an hourly rate.

What mistakes have you made along the way that you have learned from?

** I’m on holiday next week and I’ve decided it will be 100% work free, so I’m not taking my laptop with me. I’ll resume my posts and respond to any comments in a week’s time.**

6 Responses to “My three biggest freelancing mistakes”

  1. Douglas Holland
    September 16th, 2010

    Yes I have made these mistakes. But I suspect unlike you Carol, I have actually made them more than Once! Sigh!

  2. Freelance FactFile
    September 16th, 2010

    I’m glad I’m not the only one to make these mistakes, Douglas. And I’ve made more than these three – I’ve just written about my three BIGGEST ones…. :)

  3. Alan Bantatua
    September 19th, 2010

    Yeah, I have slowly found out that one has to be stringent on pricing and when to say ‘NO’ to potential new clients’ especially in quiet periods.

    Best to follow your instinct with how it fares on the ‘initial meeting’ and if you feel can deliver what the client requires to a high level then all is good.

    Thanks for the excellent tips.

  4. Ramona
    September 19th, 2010

    Oh, yeah, have I made these too …

    Now I give a price. If they like it, OK. If not, there’s always a client who knows how to keep a good designer.

  5. Freelance FactFile
    September 22nd, 2010

    @ Alan: ‘Follow your instincts’ is a sound piece of advice. I try to as much as possible and, when I don’t, I always regret it.

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    October 6th, 2010

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