top 10 mistakes freelancers make when starting out

The Top 10 Mistakes Freelancers Make When Starting Out

The best thing about freelancing is that you get to do what you love. With the right guidance, you can make a living doing something that is rewarding and exciting. Unfortunately, if left unchecked, some of these mistakes may lead freelance professionals down a path that ends with them not making money at all—or worse yet: becoming bankrupt.

At Pineapple, we recruit freelancers to be virtual assistants, and we have been doing it for over the years. We've seen a lot of people start out in this field, and we've heard a lot of stories about how difficult it can be. We decided to share with you our top ten mistakes freelancers make when starting out—and hopefully, it will help you avoid them!

Working for too little pay

You may be thinking, "I don't have to ask for much more than I'm worth." But that's not true.

As a freelancer, you're selling your expertise—the skills and knowledge that make you an invaluable asset to your clients. You're also selling your reputation: how much of a badass do you think this industry needs? And lastly, you're selling yourself as someone who can get the job done without being overworked or burnt out (or both).

When it comes down to it, asking for too little money means taking on more risk than if you were asking for more money up front—and therefore losing out on potential opportunities because of your unfamiliarity with their needs or budget constraints.

mistakes freelancers make - working for too little pay

Expecting growth to mirror a straight upward line

It can be hard to think of your business as being on a straight upward line. But it's true—the more you do, the more you'll earn. This is true for freelancers and employees alike: if you work harder than ever before, then your income will go up as well.

However, this doesn't mean that growth is linear; it often follows an exponential curve (think compound interest). This means that small changes in effort make big differences over time—and there are two ways to go about making those changes: either by working harder or making smarter choices about where and when to spend your time.

mistakes freelancers make - expecting growth to mirror a straight upward line

Comparing themselves to their peers

If you're starting out, it can be tempting to compare yourself to other freelancers in your industry. But don't do it!

You'll only make yourself feel worse by comparing yourself to other people who have done things differently than you have. You should focus on what works for YOU and how YOUR business is different from everyone else's business. The last thing anyone wants is another person telling them that their business model isn't working because there are so many people doing the same thing as them—and just as well!

mistakes freelancers make - comparing themselves to their peer

Not sending invoices in a timely manner

As a freelancer, you are responsible for your invoices. If you don't send them in a timely manner and they become late, then it will be hard to get paid. One of the most common mistakes that freelancers make when starting out is not sending invoices on time. This can lead to delays in payment which means that your client might end up not paying you at all or paying less than agreed upon amount. To avoid this from happening:

  • Send your invoices as soon as possible after receiving payment from clients (within 24 hours).
  • Make sure that there is never any confusion about whether an invoice has been received or not.

mistakes freelancers make - not sending invoices in a timely manner

Not having a contract

Contracts are an important part of your professional life, especially as a freelancer. They protect you from any potential problems and provide context for what’s expected of you along the way.

What should be included in a contract? A basic contract should include:

  • The name of the client (and their contact information)
  • The type of work being done (e.g., web design or writing)
  • The duration of this project—this can be one-time or ongoing
  • Any deadlines that need to be met by either party

mistakes freelancers make - not having a contract

Failing to diversify their income streams

One of the biggest mistakes freelancers make is failing to diversify their income streams.

When you're just starting out and looking for ways to generate money, it's easy to focus on one source of income—which can be attractive because it offers stability and predictability. But as your business grows, you'll want more than one source of revenue so that you can diversify your risk and protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances like an economic downturn or a natural disaster (which are not uncommon).

Diversification also allows freelancers who have unique skill sets or knowledge bases the opportunity to offer services outside those areas where they're most experienced; for example: If my background includes computer programming but I'm also comfortable doing graphic design work, then I could potentially sell both kinds of work at once; this way if one job doesn't pay well enough then there'd still be another source coming in every month!

mistakes freelancers make - failing to diversify their income streams

Not taking advantage of free resources available online

When it comes to freelancing, there are a lot of free resources available online that can help you get started. However, many freelancers make the mistake of not taking advantage of these resources. 

For example, there are numerous online courses available that can teach you the skills you need to be a successful freelancer. There are also plenty of forums and websites where you can find advice from other freelancers. 

Additionally, there are a number of free or low-cost tools that can make your freelancing life easier. For instance, there are project management tools, time tracking tools, invoicing tools, etc. 

Not taking advantage of these free resources is one of the biggest mistakes freelancers can make.

Try out these free tools online:

  • Canva - Templates graphic tool that can help you create quick posters, infographics, or presentations for your work.
  • Grammarly - Helps you correct your grammar mistakes for free.
  • Hootsuite - Is a tool that can help you manage and schedule posts for different social media accounts.
  • We Transfer - Can help you send huge files to your client without having to worry about it taking up space in your google drive or cloud storage.
  • Mailchimp - Helps you send out multiple newsletter emails and track the progress of each lead for free.
  • Clipchamp - Is a simple video editing tool online that you can use for free. You can also record your screen and with a voice over.

freelancer mistake not taking advantage of free resources

Being stubborn about changing their approach based on results

One of the biggest mistakes freelancers make is being stubborn about changing their approach based on results.

They may feel like they’re doing things right and won’t change anything. Or they might think that if someone else could do it, then so should they!

But the truth is that no matter how long you've been in this business or what your experience level is—you're always learning new things and adapting to them as soon as possible. That's why working with other people can be such a great way for you to learn more about your craft: by asking questions and taking criticism from others, you'll likely find yourself learning more than ever before!

mistakes freelancers make - being stubborn about changing their approach based on results


Not asking for feedback from their clients before working on a new project

As a freelancer, it's important to get feedback from your clients before diving into a new project. This helps ensure that you're on the right track and avoids any surprises down the road.

One mistake that many freelancers make is not asking for feedback while working on a new project. This can lead to problems later on, as you may not be aware of what your client is looking for or expecting. Make sure to get feedback early and often to avoid any issues at the end.

freelancer mistake_not asking for feedback


Not taking notes

Taking notes is a crucial skill for any freelancer who works remotely—not only because it helps them remember important details but also because it allows them to take notes while they're working.

Freelancers who take notes while they're working know exactly what needs doing and why, which makes them highly efficient as well.

not taking notes

Freelance isn't easy but hopefully these common mistakes will help you avoid them

It might seem like a daunting task to start your own business, but it's not as difficult as it seems. However, there are some common mistakes that freelancers make when starting out and these will help you avoid them.

  • Making the wrong decision: You need to be confident in yourself and your abilities so don't let other people's opinions affect how much you charge or what kind of clients or projects you take on. If someone says something negative about your work then ignore them! The best thing about being an entrepreneur is having control over how much money comes into your bank account every month - no one can take that away from us unless we let them!
  • Not being patient enough: The hardest part about freelancing is selling yourself online without knowing who will buy from someone else first! So if someone hasn't bought yet then try again later with another offer until they do buy something from all three offers (this may take several attempts depending on whether they're working remotely).


You can start with a good agency to be properly guided

A good agency will guide you through any potential pitfalls. They have access to the best resources and people in your industry, so if you’re struggling with something, they should be able to help you out.

If you don’t have any connections yet or don't know where else to go for help, there are plenty of other options available:

  • Ask fellow freelancers for advice. In particular, look for those who have been in your position before (and maybe even worked at an agency). They might offer some insight into how things went down in their own experiences and could give valuable advice on how best to handle certain situations going forward.
  • Get advice from clients/customers who’ve hired freelancers before—even if they didn't hire yours specifically! These folks might share their personal experience with hiring as well as recommend some specific tools that would benefit both parties involved during the process of working together (for example: "Working remotely is great because it allows me time away from my family," etc.)
  • Someone can walk you through the process. To learn more about what to prepare when you become a virtual assistant read - Virtual Assistant Starter Pack 

We all have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is with a solid foundation.

Hopefully, the above tips will help you avoid these common mistakes. We know that it is not easy to be a virtual assistant or be a freelancer, but with some patience and perseverance, you can succeed!


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