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Freelancing is a great way to shrug off the monotony of a nine-to-five job and take your life and career into your own hands. It enables you to build your own business from scratch around your skills, talents and passion. Many people go into freelancing after becoming disenfranchised with the structures and limitations of the corporate world. While this may be admirable, it can be difficult to impose the structures and limitations on yourself that make a good freelancer when, especially when you first transition into it from salaried work.
Freelancing, like any other vocation, is a learning curve with its own rewards and pitfalls. If you’re a nascent freelancer (or thinking of becoming one), here are some of the worst things you could do to your career:
1. Quit your job right away
If you’re a wage slave who’s desperate to get their foot in the freelance door, then one of the worst things you can do is quit your job (however much you may hate it) before your freelance business is established. A freelancer needs time to build a portfolio of work and craft relationships with clients and this may take longer than you can afford to support yourself without work. It’s a far brighter strategy to establish your online presence and start reaching out to prospective clients while you’re gainfully employed. That way, by the time you quit your job, you’ll already have the infrastructure for a successful freelance career.
2. Not check the quality of your work
Time is money, especially for freelancers and while you’re starting out you’ll likely face a constant battle against the clock to get your work done on deadline. While a high productivity rate is essential to make a living from your work, the worst thing you can do is rush it without checking the quality of your work. Whether you’re a writer who fails to adequately proof read their work or a construction subcontractor who fails to do adequate weld testing, you court disaster by not checking your work. At best you’ll alienate a client and risk severely impacting your future workflow and at worst you’ll endanger the health and safety of others.
3. Fail to protect your business
When you work for yourself your business is your employer and your livelihood. While you may have faced redundancy if your old employee went under, if you fail to protect your business you will not only be out of work, you could severely damage your reputation and your ability to secure credit for future business ventures. Make sure that your business has the right insurance to protect you and your operations. Even though you’ll be anxious to keep costs down when you’re first starting out, failing to protect yourself from litigation can cost you far more in the long run.
4. Under-selling your skills
“What should I charge?”, it’s the toughest question a neophyte freelancer can ask of themselves. Nonetheless, you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you undercut yourself on price. Being the cheapest game in town is unlikely to secure you more work. Most of your clients will be paying for your services out of an allocated budget, not their own pocket. Therefore, undercharging will likely do little more than imply that your services are below market standard.