THE BLOG

69 Things You Should NOT Do as a Freelancer

03/02/2015 14:44 GMT | Updated 05/04/2015 10:59 BST

Being a freelancer is hard. There's no one there to stop you doing stupid things, to chivvy you on, or to tell you to shut up or man up.

I mean, you are your own boss. You are the person who's supposed to be doing the chivvying and the one who's supposed to tell you to shut up and stop doing stupid things. You're the boss and the employee and sometimes it's difficult straddling those two roles.

I haven't been freelancing for long, but I've learnt very quickly what things you should and shouldn't do. That's not to say I've mastered NOT doing these things - I'm still learning (there's a lot of them) - but putting them down on paper sure makes it easier.

So, here we go. Things you should NOT do as a freelancer.

1. Undersell yourself

An obvious one to start with. Don't devalue yourself - if the clients are a-coming, that means you've got something to offer.

2. Oversell yourself

Better than underselling yourself, but still not good. Not everyone is perfect, so don't pretend like you are.

3. Argue with clients

This is obviously a big fat no-no. However rude they are, simply smile, be polite, and walk away. You're a professional and your reputation relies on it.

4. Lie

If you think you're lacking in a skill set, don't lie about it. You will get found out. Instead, why not try and improve on it?

5. Promise things you can't do

Sure, you want to be liked and you want to seem like the best freelancer in the world. But if you promise things you can't do, you're going to dirty your reputation.

6. Work around the clock

Freelancers have to hustle and work hard, there's no doubt about it. But remember that you need to have a life as well.

7. Forget why you started freelancing in the first place

Sometimes freelancing can be soul destroying and it will leave you questioning what the hell you're doing with your life. In moments like this, remind yourself why you started freelancing in the first place, whether it was because you hate the cubical life or because you wanted the freedom to work around your kids.

8. Ask yourself if you're good enough

You're good enough, I promise. Otherwise you would have given up a long time ago.

9. Question the meaning of life

It will just make you feel bad, trust me.

10. Hate working alone

Most freelancing jobs require you to spend a lot of alone time with yourself. If you're going to make it without going absolutely stir crazy, you're going to have to get used to being by yourself.

11. Be too hard on yourself

We are notoriously our own worst critics. My best suggestion is to treat yourself as if you were an employee of yourself... that completely makes sense, right?

12. Let emotions take over

When we get rejected for a job or get told it's not good enough, it's easy to get upset and angry because, when you're a freelancer, the criticism is aimed directly at YOU. There's no one else to take the blame. Getting angry and upset won't solve anything, though - it will just make things worse.

13. Become a hermit

Get out the house for a bit. Go to the shop, go grab a coffee, say yes to drinks with friends.

14. Push people away

As a freelancer you're basically out there on the choppy waves all by yourself. You need support just like you would if you were an employee, so don't think you can do it all by yourself.

15. Not save money

Put a little aside each month. You'll thank yourself for it when you can buy that dress you love or book flights to that tropical island you've wanted to go to for ages.

16. Stop learning

To improve our craft we need to constantly keep learning. Don't think you don't have the time - make the time.

17. Hit a plateau

It's easy to cruise once you have a comfortable amount of work. Don't do this - consistently strive to get better clients, to do better work, to make more money.

18. Lose track of your earnings

Unless you have a dedicated accountant, you're probably in charge of your own incomings and outgoings. It's important to keep a close eye on these for tax purposes as well as for your own personal goals.

19. Say yes to everything

Not every job is a good fit. Learn to say no and practice it often.

20. Confuse work and play time

Freelancers usually love their jobs, but it's important to keep the balance between work and play - just so you don't lose your mind.

21. Be shy about raising prices

Inflation happens, everyone knows that; your clients know that. You can't keep charging the client you took on five years ago the same price you did back then.

22. Not have a portfolio

Make it easy for people to look through your amazing work. Show it off, show them that you are the best person for the job.

23. Not tell friends and family what you do

What if they know someone who needs a (insert freelancing profession here)?

24. Be embarrassed to tell people what you do

A lot of people out there don't know much about freelancing. This is reflected in the blank stares received after you say you're a freelancer, right?

25. Have a bad website

Seriously, it's so easy these days to make a great website with minimal knowledge about computers. There's no excuse.

26. Make it difficult for people to contact you

How are you going to land that great client if they can't contact you?!

27. Do stupid things on social media

Delete all drunken photos and definitely don't write any potentially career-destroying tweets. Simple enough.

28. Worry about what people think of you

Just don't. You can spend so much more time improving your skills and increasing your business if you don't do this.

29. Worry full stop

Worry makes your work and your health suffer. If you're genuinely really worried about something, speak to someone.

30. Wait for things to happen

Clients do not just fall out of the air into your lap. Take control.

31. Settle for mediocre jobs

I admit, sometimes we do have to do this if we want to pay the bills. But, if you can help it, try not to.

32. Stop looking for new clients

Aim for bigger and better all the time. Reach out to brands and people you really want to work with - put yourself on their radar.

33. Give up what you love

Freelancing can take up a lot of time, but be careful you don't sacrifice the things you love in favour of work - you'll only regret it in the end.

34. Try and go it alone

Building up a support group or network of fellow freelancers in the same industry as you is invaluable. And will stop you going crazy.

35. Stop hustling

Freelancers are well-known for hustling, and that's because we do it so well. Don't stop.

36. Compare yourself to others

This will only end in tears. Everyone is different and what goes on behind closed doors may not be the image portrayed on the surface.

37. Waste your time

Get off Facebook. Think about all the other productive things you could be doing instead.

38. Shy away from big jobs

It's easy to think we won't be good enough, but if you've been hand-picked, invited to interview, or even been given the job outright, the client must see some great potential in you. Big jobs are great learning curves so don't shy away.

39. Not ask

If you don't ask, you don't get. What's the worst that could happen?

40. Work without some kind of agreement

You're vulnerable as a freelancer and you need backup. Make sure you get it.

41. Work at the wrong times

Everyone works best at different times of the day. If your work allows it, find out when you are most productive and fit all your important tasks into that timeframe.

42. Get lax on communication

Communication is one of the most important things as a freelancer, so don't ever feel like you're above it.

43. Do work you feel uncomfortable doing

If a job puts your ethics and morals at risk, step away. It's not worth it and you will absolutely regret it later down the line.

44. Think the client is always right

They're asking you, a freelancer, to do something for a reason - they don't have the skill set themselves to do it.

45. Tell the client they're wrong

It's not worth it. In the client's eyes they are always right... let them think that.

46. Take rejection to heart

Learn to take rejection on the chin and strive to be better the next time.

47. Lose touch with clients

They pay your bills. Drop them a line every now and again to see how they're doing (even if you haven't worked together in a while).

48. Make yourself too available

People often think that because you work for yourself, you're available all the time. Don't let them think this.

49. Do haphazard work

Everything you do for a client is a reflection on you, so make sure it's better than the best.

50. Take deadlines with a pinch of salt

Deadlines are a freelancer's lifeblood. Your life revolves around them - don't ever forget that.

51. Not plan your week

Get a calendar or diary and schedule, write to-do lists, make notes.

52. Let everything get on top of you

Breath. Just breathe. Or go for a walk.

53. Be afraid to ask for clarification

I guarantee your clients would prefer you to ask for clarification and help than for you to deliver something that's not what they were looking for.

54. Not learn from your mistakes

Mistakes happen. Make sure you learn from them.

55. Not consider your work a real job

If you want clients to take you seriously, you're going to have to take yourself seriously.

56. Aim low

No one should aim low, whether they're a freelancer or not.

57. Not measure your success

Set goals and reach them. Then set new goals.

58. Not follow up

It's okay to follow up with a client if you don't hear back from them. There are many reasons why they might not have been in touch - don't try and guess.

59. Overshare

You're a professional. Your clients don't want to know what you had for breakfast or why you had to go to the doctors.

60. Be afraid to negotiate

Nine times out of ten, clients will be expecting you to negotiate. Don't let them down.

61. Let yourself be talked into something

If necessary, say you will think about it and come back to them.

62. Over-expand a project for free

It's okay to deliver work above and beyond the call of duty, but too much work for no extra pay? Well, then you become a doormat.

63. Not practice time management

It's one of the most important things you can do as a freelancer.

64. Put all your eggs in one basket

What if it falls through? Then what?

65. Not take breaks

Relieve yourself from working every now and again, just so you come back refreshed and raring to go.

66. Think you need to know everything

You don't. And there's no way you possibly can so stop trying.

67. Think you know everything

You don't.

68. Be a perfectionist

There's doing a job well and then there's getting completely hung up over a job because you're a perfectionist.

69. Give up on yourself

There's a reason you went freelance in the first place, so never forget why you chose that path and how far you've come!

Have any more to add?