8 Freelancing tips for beginners (what I wish I knew before I took the leap)
Starting out on a freelancing journey can be a nerve-wracking experience.
I know when I started freelancing it felt like I was slowly wading my way into the deep end without knowing how to swim. I had a lot of questions when I was starting out, but the worst part was the anxiety of not knowing what questions to ask. Whether you’re starting a side hustle, or freelancing full time– the stakes are high and small mistakes can lead to big trouble.
We have all made our fair share of freelancing missteps and gaffes, and all we can do is learn and be better. BUT, what if you could learn from the expert’s mistakes and hopefully avoid making them yourself? We asked our community of freelancers, and scoured the entrepreneur community on Reddit, about the biggest mistakes and lessons they’ve learned through their time as freelancers.
Our community’s best advice about being self employed
Be selective and even a little self-serving with your side hustle services
“I’d say I wish I’d been more selective about freelancing and side hustling projects and clients that I WANT to work on or with, not just take any project that will keep the lights on. I constantly lost sight of my freelance business being 100% mine and got too excited about the initial idea of certain clients instead of going after ones that would be more personally rewarding long term.”
– Melissa Hollis Goff, Freelance Social Media and Content Creation
Create a client profile template to hone in on the type of clients you really want.
Stay on top of your tax liability
I really wish someone had sat me down and explained the tax side of freelancing to me. When I first started my side hustle I was really excited to have a second source of income that I could use for frivolous stuff like vacations, extravagant dinners, basketball tickets, etc. I was spending the side hustle money almost as quickly as it was coming in– but I wasn’t setting aside anything for taxes. When it came time to pay the tax man, I was horrified to learn that I owed a substantial amount in taxes that I was unprepared to pay at the time.
– Sean Gates, Freelance SEO and Website Optimization
Our friends over at Think Save Retire did a great piece about managing your taxes as a freelancer.
Stand Your Ground on Pricing Your Products
I wish I had known to stand my ground on pricing! When I first started my side hustle, I would pretty much come up with pricing based off of the client’s budget. I’m in the fitness industry, so when it comes to personalized 1:1 coaching, it takes a lot of time. When I discount that price, I don’t feel like I am being paid what I’m worth. Additionally, the client doesn’t seem to adhere as well to the program, because there isn’t this big money investment. Stand your ground on your pricing. KNOW YOUR WORTH!
– Dakota Butler, Freelance Personal Trainer
Check out our article on how to write an invoice when your client is struggling financially for more advice on this topic.
Set and Communicate Boundaries with Your Freelance Clients
I think the biggest mistake I made when I first started freelancing was failing to set boundaries. I started editing on Fiverr and I didn’t even think to put a word limit on how much I would edit for just a few dollars. I ended up basically being asked to edit an entire novel for $5, and because I had no policy against it, I did it. It took forever and was not worth the small amount of money I earned. But you can bet I never made that mistake twice!
– Sarah Thibeau, Freelance Editor and Social Media Manager
Use a project estimate template to make sure you don’t underbid on projects.
Reddit’s best advice about being self employed
Charge what you need to be profitable from the beginning
Don’t neglect to plan for your business
Embrace the ability to pivot if something isn’t working
Your ability to solve problems is in direct proportion to your success as an entrepreneur
Your failures are never final in freelancing
Don’t worry if you make mistakes in your freelance journey. Even the most successful people do! If you don’t manage to incorporate all of these tips into your business, don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong. All you need to do is bet on yourself, try your best, and don’t get discouraged.
Looking for more ways to be successful as a freelancer? Check out these 11 freelancer mistakes that you should avoid.