10 Freelancer Mistakes to Avoid in 2022 (and beyond)
Hey Freelancer! Working online from anywhere is the bomb am I right? You can literally work from your couch, co-working space, or hop on a plane and work from Barbados for 6 months if you feel like it (the awesomeness).
But while this level of freedom and flexibility is intoxicating (including tons of other freelancing perks), as with any endeavour in life – mistakes are inevitable and are also part of the freelancer package.
From not shifting from a 9-5 mindset, to letting clients pee on your head and even forgetting to go outside and socialise – there are a lot of mistakes newbies (or oldies) to freelancing make.
To help you stay on top of your freelance game and avoid freelancer mistakes that could cost you time, money and even your sanity, here are the 10 freelancer mistakes to avoid in 2022 and beyond.
Table of Contents
1. Not adjusting your mindset
The 9-5 mindset is all about following orders, doing the bare minimum, tolerating your job and seeing the weekend as a reward for the routine. However, with freelancing you are your own boss, you can choose whatever lifestyle you want and plan it around your work schedule/deadlines.
Yet many freelancers don’t adjust their mindset which means they don’t acknowledge the change, or fully accept it mentally, and have no idea what to do with their new found freedom and flexibility. This causes them to feel useless or like they made a mistake switching careers.
Becoming aware of this mindset shift will help you to consciously take advantage of the perks that come with freelancing and avoid this freelancer mistake.
You can pick up new hobbies, choose to work on weekends, travel on weekdays, work from another country every 6 months…just as an example of the power you have my friend.
2. Working around the clock without having a schedule/routine
Everyone needs a routine. Why? Because without it, you’ll feel like you’re just going through the motions, without any sense of direction.
But many freelancers make the mistake of working into the night, waking up whenever, skipping meals just to meet deadlines, or binge scrolling on Instagram to fill up their free-time. This leads to fatigue and mental disorganisation.
Create a schedule – wake up at 8am, work out, eat breakfast, dress up, start working by 9.30am, have lunch by 12pm, go for a walk, work for another 2 hours, have dinner, unwind and bed time by 10pm.
Basically, having a general structure of your day, week and months will give you more control over your life as you work from anywhere boss.
3. Forgetting to go outside
Working from home can make you super relaxed and too lazy to go outside because; why go out to buy groceries when you can order it in right? But staying indoors all day is bad for your body, mind and leads to long term side-effects like chronic back pain, neck and spine issues, even depression and anxiety. (yikes!)
As a freelancer, make an effort to add outside activities to your day. Personally, I schedule days where I work from a café, walk 40mins to massage appointments so I can get some fresh air and be active.
For scheduled outside activities, deadlines are the worst for freelancers, especially when you’ve already delivered the project but the client wants revisions which can mess up your schedule. But the key here is effort to go with the flow, make it a priority and switch your outside activities up as you go along.
4. Overworking yourself just to earn more
I get it, as a freelancer the more you work the more you earn – but a lot of new or even seasoned freelancers are too chicken to say no. They’ll pull all-nighters, throw their boundaries out the window just to get that extra $50, at the expense of sleep and general self-care. (very bad idea)
To avoid making this freelancer mistake of overworking yourself just to earn more, learn to say no and know when to stop. Balance is key with everything and I bet you agree.
5. Not tracking your freelance income streams
Freelancers often work for multiple clients at a time, as they provide a range of services and get leads to their freelance business from a variety of sources like; Fiverr, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest etc. This means that freelance income will come from different online streams.
Not tracking all your online income streams means you have no idea if you’re earning enough to sustain you and your business. This is why it’s super important to track all your income streams in an excel spreadsheet, so at the end of every month:
- You’ll understand how much you made
- Become aware of your best performing income streams
- Understand where to double down on your efforts, to maximise your earning potential
6. Not investing in work tools that boost your efficiency
It’s exciting to start earning online. I remember the first online income I ever made was $125 for designing a Wix landing page and writing 40 Instagram captions for a client on Fiverr. Yes, I put in a lot of effort on the job for peanuts, but it blew my mind that I didn’t have to leave my couch and I earned that money by working on my computer.
When freelancers start earning, many start buying new clothes, shoes, even cars and houses. While these are nice things, they often forget to invest in what really matters which are; the tools that not only make their work life better and more efficient, but prevents health problems from sitting in one place and staring at a screen for a long time.
Some of these tools include: ergonomic chair, printer, standing desk, table stand for laptop, blue light glasses etc. Basically investing in these tools will ensure you work more efficiently while prioritizing your physical health and well-being.
7. Upgrading your lifestyle to meet your income
A freelancer earning $1000 with a $600 lifestyle, has the opportunity to save for a mortgage or invest in passive income streams. However, choosing to upgrade your lifestyle to match your income is a trap!
As a digital nomad freelancer, I focus on living below my means which means I moved to Montenegro so my online income can go a long way and to improve my quality of life. Living within or below your means ensures whenever you earn less than the usual, you won’t be in panic mode because you have some reserve.
Some ways you can live below your means as a freelancer are:
- Moving to a more affordable country with a higher quality of life
- Eating in more often
- Cancelling unnecessary subscriptions and plans
8. Neglecting personal care and well-being
Mental health and physical health come first! Overworking yourself to earn more at the expense of your sleep and physical activity, only leads to burnout overtime guaranteed!
Set aside days and times to take care of yourself, eat healthy meals, rest, exercise, socialise, go outside and revitalise – so you can put in your best with a clear mind and healthy body.
9. Not setting clear boundaries with clients
I know the 24/7 availability culture of freelancing might make it hard to turn down new clients. But this is not a reason to take on jobs that you know will cause you stress and disrupt ongoing plans.
Set clear boundaries with clients:
- Choose which clients you want to work with. Not every client is worth your time and energy
- Have set times when you work and when you unplug to recharge
- Know when to say no in order to avoid the pressure that comes with taking on too many jobs and scrambling to meet deadlines
- Decide how and when you prefer to get paid and stick to it
- If a client refuses to pay a previous invoice without any clear explanation but expects you to continue working, learn to say a big fat no and seize work until you get that moolah!
- Always respect your clients, but draw a line with how you’ll be treated
Having clear boundaries shows you respect yourself, your work and you value your time.
10. Not focusing on quality
Quality over quantity always! Many freelancers tend to focus so much on earning, that they take on too many jobs which causes the quality of their work to take a hit.
A major key to earning consistent income as a freelancer is by having repeat clients. Getting repeat clients is solely dependent on the quality of the service you provide.
The best the quality of your service, the more clients keep coming back for more of the good stuff. So the smart thing is to focus on improving the quality of your work and always do your best.
Freelancing is amazing, but even amazing things need a strategy to ensure it serves you and not work against you. Avoiding these 10 freelance mistakes in 2022 and beyond will help you work more efficiently, find a balance and live a life you truly enjoy with no regrets.
Are you currently making any of these freelance mistakes? Share the tea in the comments below!
[Thinking of switching to remote work? The blog post How to work remotely; a beginner’s guide will help you!]