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Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make

If you are just starting with freelancing, chances are, you will be committing a fair amount of mistakes. That is perfectly normal. Because you still don’t have enough experience, and you haven’t mastered the tricks of the trade, it is given that you will commit them. But that is a part of learning and maturing as a freelancer. Your mistakes teach you how to do it better the next time.

In my experience as a freelancer for more than a year now, I have committed rudimentary mistakes too. Though I am not ashamed of having committed them, it is sometimes regretful to think that these mistakes could have been avoided if I knew exactly what to do when I was starting.

Here are some common mistakes that I and other more freelancers out there commit. These are early warning signs for those who are just starting with the wonderful world of freelancing. And for those who have been there for long, these are reminders of what you should not be doing.

Underestimating Your Worth

Starting freelancers often are puzzled at how will they place their rates. Of course, if you are just starting, you will have difficult times in placing a reasonable rate. Most clients will shun you because you don’t have the experience but offer the same rates as the seasoned freelancers.

This may lure you into falling for discounts, cheap rates and, sad to say, FREE LABOR. Yes, this may happen. Because experience is such a staple requirement for freelancers, simply acquiring something to boast off to clients is more than enough.

But, as a freelancer, you should always remember the words of the Joker.

“If you are good at something, never do it for free.”

That only means you have to ask for compensation every now and then. Remember, doctors are paid to diagnose illnesses, lawyers are paid for the consultancy, why can’t your clients pay you? And pay you well?

There are also instances where the client asks for your rate. Of course, they understand that you know what you do and you know how much your efforts cost. So, how do you rate yourself?

The first thing you will be asking yourself is what can you offer your client?

  • Did you study in a university just to learn the skills you will be offering?
  • Do you still study continuously to improve such skills?
  • Are you good at communicating?
  • How experienced are you?
  • Are there other people who have the same skill as yours? Or are you one of a few?
  • How good are you at meeting deadlines?
  • Do you have a portfolio?

These questions shall guide you to gauge your skill and experience. But it doesn’t determine the exact amount of what you will say to your clients. However, it will be logical to think that if you have high scores or answers in each of the questions above, it follows that you ask for a higher price.

Here are some other factors:

  • The costs you expended to get the project done (Electricity bill, hardware, etc)
  • Your costs to get paid (PayPal transfer payments, freelance site memberships)
  • Other living expenses

For a more in-depth guide on pricing your services check previously published article by Jurij Burchenya.

Not Being Able to Say No

One of the hardest things to do when you are a freelancer is saying no to clients. Well, it seems acceptable because saying no to clients means saying no to money, and to experience. For starting freelancers, it almost seems like an abomination to refuse projects. However, saying yes to everything is another trap.

You have to understand that no matter how much of a newbie you are, you still have the right to refuse clients, especially if you don’t want the terms of the project. This is not an immature move. In fact, it reflects how great of a decision-maker you are.

Why would you say no to clients?

  • The price is not right
  • Project is too difficult for you
  • The time is not enough
  • The client is too demanding

Remember, the great warriors know when to retreat. You should, too.

Procrastinating Too Much

Freedom is one of the many perks a freelancer can have at his career. The ability to work anywhere and anytime is truly a selling edge. It is one of the many positive points in freelancing.

However, freedom is a double edged sword. You can enjoy the flexibility of working and time but you can also suffer because of it.

Many freelancers have fallen prey to too much procrastination. This always roots to the belief that as a freelancer, you are absolutely free.

That’s not true, however. Freedom should be exercised by the freelancer to create and finish projects.

You can fight procrastination by:

  • Creating a routine
  • Establishing a time-table
  • Giving enough breaks (I use the Pomodoro Technique)
  • Motivating yourself through rewards and punishment


While there are freelancers that suffer from not working too much, there are others that tire themselves out to a point where they have no creativity left in the tank.

This can turn into an instant nightmare in future projects because you work so hard and exerting so much effort in your projects to a point where you can no longer work. Of course, you don’t know when this day comes but you have to prevent it the best way you can.

Here are a few tips:

  • Take short walks every now and then
  • Don’t forget your vacations
  • Learn to say no
  • Give yourself a number of hours for working time and some to relax


These are just a few of the mistakes freelancers normally commit. But they are not something to be ashamed of. These mistakes are just learning opportunities and stepping stones into becoming a more efficient and well-endowed freelancer in the future. Good luck!

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