How to Prevent Common Newbie Freelancing Mistakes

As we're a little more than a month away from the new fiscal year (July 1 - June 30), you may have found the past few months a little trying as a new freelancer. Yes,
freelancing is more competitive than ever and it seems that clients are more demanding. Not to mention all of the mind-altering events going on in the world today. While it can get a little tough at times, the only thing you can do at this point is dust off your shoulders and keep going.

7 Ways to Prevent Freelancer Fumbles

1. Write it down. Ideas for content, random thoughts, questions for clients...and it doesn't matter what time it is when these things hit you. Even if it's 3:00 AM and you're just gonna go to the bathroom. If post-midnight trips to the john are common, keep a pad and pencil near the bed or if you have a voice app on your phone, this is good if you're coherent at this time of day. For non-vampires only.

2. Get it in Writing. If you use an onboarding site to get clients, continue using their platform to maintain communication about the project. Unless it has changed recently, there's little that an onboarding site can do if you make arrangements offsite (e.g. IM, Slack, etc.). Despite how good a project sounds, stick to your guns because moving away from the site where they found you can cost.

3. Set Milestones. You should be doing this for lengthy assignments anyway. While it seems right to commit to a due date that satisfies the client, you also need to ensure you'll get paid for the time, even if it's a consultation. Sometimes unethical clients pressure new freelancers to take on a lot of work with a lengthy wait period before remitting payment. Should there be a conflict, try to find a happy medium.

4. Speak Up. When you're new and looking to make a good impression, rocking the boat is out. While being quiet at work has its advantages, it can also present problems. Using this approach too often may cause the most ethical of employers to take unfair advantage. They may assume you're okay with taking on more work instead of asking first. Let them know your terms so you can maintain some control.

5. Do Better. Seems simple but we're all creatures of habit and our income is often affected by this. If you find that your free spellchecker isn't doing what it's supposed to, invest in a reputable brand. Waking up earlier, going to bed by a reasonable hour, or even regular exercise can make a difference in productivity. However, if you find that the walls are closing in mentally, it's time to take a break.

6. Have a Backup Plan. Things happen but sometimes it's hard to picture handling an emergency when you've fallen ill or worse. Before this happens, seek and test at least two alternate plans. Depending on your industry, this may involve contacting a friend or colleague in a similar field or a company that can do the job fast for little charge. Also, make sure you can return any deposits or prorate fees accordingly.

7. Break Routine. The nice thing about freelancing today is there are so many mediums to create content and grow your client base. Try creating slideshows or live videos if you mostly write blog posts. Teach a class on something that stands out from the other thousands of online training out there. There are also digital downloads to consider. This is also a good time to re-think your social media strategy.