When you start out as a freelancer, it seems like there is very little you can do to damage your career. After all, you work behind a computer and aren’t likely to spend much time with your clients and others.

However, even though you might not have to contend with traditional office culture, you can still damage your freelance career. Here are 5 ways to cause problems for yourself as you start as a freelancer:

1. Negativity

You might be surprised at how much impact negativity can have on your freelance career. Your attitude can show in your work, and in your interactions with clients and would-be clients.

I know that I’ve struggled more when I’ve been negative.

2. Over Promise

One of the worst things you can do is over promise. Don’t promise big things if you can’t deliver. Even if you think you can deliver, you need to be careful about what you promise to clients.

As I built my reputation as a freelancer over the years, I made it a point to under promise. That way, I was over delivering. It’s better to surprise someone by delivering more than expected (or delivering it earlier than expected) than over promising and then disappointing your client.

3. Frequent Errors and Revision Requests

No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. Occasionally you will need to make revisions. An error here and there isn’t going to ruin your freelance career. However, if you make frequent spelling and grammar errors, your clients will get tired of working with you. It would be nice to have editors to clean up your copy, but that’s not how it works — especially for online freelancers.

Also, if you have a lot of revision requests from multiple clients, it might be a sign that you need to step up your game. There are times that you might need to fire a client for asking for too many revisions, but if multiple clients ask for revisions constantly, it might be a sign that you are becoming hard to work with. Try make sure you understand what is needed ahead of time so there are fewer revisions.

4. Reluctance to Change

When I started my freelance career, I thought things would be straightforward. I would write, and do nothing else. Over the years, that changed. I work in the online space, and there are a few things expected of me. Sharing what I write on social media is a given. I’ve also seen some of the demand for different services, so I’ve also done work organizing blogger campaigns and even managing blog content. If you aren’t willing to change with the times, or branch out to provide the services clients want (even if you do charge a premium for some of them), you could ruin your career.

5. Refusing to Help

I try to help others where I can, sharing work with other freelancers and providing support. Sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough, but I do try. If you refuse to help others, that will come back to haunt you and could hurt your freelance career. There’s plenty of work for us all, so it makes sense to be willing to help.


I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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