It has been a long time goal to turn my one-woman operation into more of an agency and since there has been a steady increase in business, I have found it necessary to begin sharing my workload. As a result, I have been recruiting freelancers to work with me on a trial basis. While this process has been a learning experience, I felt more than equipped to handle it based on my personal experience as a freelancer. However, in my search for and recent exchanges with new and tenured freelancers alike, I was reminded of several mistakes freelancers often make and wanted to share a few of them here, from the client perspective.
Underestimating the opportunity.
Regardless of how big or small you think a client is, you should always treat them with the same level of professionalism. Personally, I run a small operation and have garnered most of my clients via word of mouth. With that, I have been amazed at some of the opportunities I’ve been afforded. Best practice is to always remember that you never know who your clients know, what project they will have you working on, or to whom they will refer you. If you find yourself underestimating something, just say no to the gig and keep it moving. Clients prefer to work with someone who is just as excited about what they’re doing as they are.
Pricing has been an age old struggle and while charging less than you deserve is an obvious mistake, some people fall into the unfortunate habit of charging way too much. In my search for freelancers, I came across someone with minimal experience and average portfolio but their rate was double that of a much more experienced freelancer with a proven track record. It’s great to be confident in your work and have your rates reflect that but please make sure you are at least in line with current market rates and most importantly, that your finished product/service actually reflects the rate you’ve set.
Deadlines are not optional and are given for a reason. The ability to meet deadlines demonstrates a good work ethic and increases the likelihood of the client hiring you again when they need a hand. However, not meeting deadlines gives the impression that you essentially don’t care about the work you’re doing and almost guarantees that you won’t be brought on again. Because we all know life happens, some instances are acceptable but continuous disregard for deadlines is completely unacceptable.
Abusing the honor system.
I recently had a freelancer submit an assignment to me with a ridiculous amount of hours claimed. It was a 500 word article which they said took them 8 hours to produce. Now in my previous experience, I have been able to knock out comparable articles in less than two hours, maybe three depending on research. Realizing that everyone is not the same but also realizing when someone is blatantly trying to get over. Don’t play yourself trying to play the system. Abusing the honor system automatically creates a lack of trust between you and the client and will cost you money that could have been made from additional projects in the long run.
Of course, this list could go on but these are just my personal pet peeves from recent endeavors. What are some mistakes you’ve made as a freelancer or mistakes you’ve witnessed a freelancer make as a client?