Everyone makes mistakes. Freelancers included. But sometimes you may not even know it. Here are 5 mistakes that freelancers make (perhaps, unknowingly) and tips on how to fix them.
1. Waiting too long to recharge.
No matter what you do, if you’re experiencing burnout or if the doldrums are setting in, attempt to seek out inspiration as a habit. When it comes to gleaning such inspiration, there are many options to turn to when needed. Whether it’s hearing a story about someone who betters humanity or affordable ways to get a clutter-free work space, seek out whatever recharges your batteries or influences you to keep going.
Certified Financial Planner and New York Times Columnist known for his back of the napkin sketches about financial topics, Carl Richards believes in having what he calls a “Stoke File” to collect inspirational stories or anything else that keeps you motivated. He believes you have to actively seek them out to stay fired up on a regular basis. Richards says, “II’s something that needs to be maintained and carefully tended to so that it grows.” Make it a habit to find such inspiration, even if it’s completely unrelated to the type of work you do.
2. Not reminding yourself to complete tasks.
At times using a standard to-do list can help us remember what we need to do daily. But sometimes there are items we forget to jot down and they can slip between the cracks. If you often have agendas in a Google Doc that include action items you need to take, use the following feature highlighted on The App Show on YouTube to remember to do them.
For freelancers, easy to forget about something that’s housed within a document. If you tend to use your email as a do-list or if it is a part of your daily work routine, consider emailing yourself. Be proactive with tasks you’ll need to complete by sending yourself an email about it.
The App show suggests highlighting the items and sending them via email using the comment section in Google Docs. If you hit the plus sign and the email address where you want to send the item, you can send it promptly while it’s fresh on your mind. If you choose to send it to yourself, it will be waiting for you in your inbox. Just be sure to check the “Updates” tab in Gmail.
Once you click the assign button, it will show another box with a blue bar across the top and there will be wording explaining how what you highlighted is assigned to you. It will remain in the document as an informal bookmark until you finish. You would then click an icon of a check mark to indicate that you are done.
3. Committing faux pas when scheduling appointments.
Freelancers far and wide mess up on this one. If you need to schedule a call for any reason, or if the person you’re working with doesn’t have a scheduling link, provide your own. The only difference is the other person may have to follow-up to actually finish booking a time slot.
If they don’t firm up a time right away, you might have to contact them again. This can be a pain for both parties. That’s why it’s easier if they provide the scheduling link so you are in control of booking the appointment.
I like to work with one at all times especially when booking clients on podcasts. It’s a more efficient way to set up an appointment without a lot of back and forth on email. It eliminates unnecessary steps by default.
Another mistake I see freelancers make is over sharing about your schedule. If you’re on a call with someone you might potentially work with and they’re hoping to book an appointment, you don’t need to reveal that your schedule is currently wide open if that’s the case.
Whether you’re currently finishing up work with one client or have had a lapse in ongoing work, prospective clients don’t need to know that you having a gaping hole in your schedule. Explain that though you’re currently booking up the month, you still have some flexibility to assist them. You can also say “I’m getting my calendar set for the month and want to make sure you can book a time slot before it fills up.”
If things move forward on the call and you feel comfortable asking, you might even want to lock up an appointment time right then. If you haven’t currently updated your scheduling link or you think sharing it may not work in your favor by showing too much availability as mentioned above, this is the one of those times when I would ask upfront to schedule the appointment.
4. Failing to record your work on your invoice as you go.
As a writer, I’m constantly drafting, editing and publishing articles. It can be hard to keep track of when I wrote what. For this reason, I cut-and-paste the headline of the article that I just wrote into my invoice as soon as I submit it. I can save it as a draft and ship it out when the time comes.
Taking time to do this one step saves me a great deal of time. I don’t have to check past invoices or look up what I wrote about weeks ago. If I didn’t use this technique, it would take multiple steps to recall what I wrote when and it would take longer to put my invoice together which is not fun.
5. Not having clear payment terms.
This is a mistake among freelancers. Be sure to cover the basics when it to comes to payment terms. Terms like when the payment is due, how they can pay and late fee policy while on a call. Look up a sample script to word your payment terms clearly if you’re not sure what to write. It could also be something you tweak as you go. This way, you won’t risk having them tuck the information away without reading it.
The Bottom Line
Sometimes we make mistakes unknowingly. The good news is you can fix these with a little time and effort by following the tips mentioned above. You’ll be well on your way to fixing them before you know it.