When you're starting out on your own, it's helpful to know mistakes that others have made, so you can do your best to avoid them. In freelance life we need to work together, so we can continue to be the bosses of our own lives!
I’ll never forget my first job as a freelance consultant.
Back in 2016, I was in the midst of quitting my full-time job, to return to sunny Australia from grey and rainy England. In the excitement of finally working for myself, I jumped up and down after getting my first website copywriting job and absolutely, positively underquoted myself.
The most common freelance mistake
I’m not talking about an hour or two, I’m talking about 14 hours of extra work. And obviously as a new freelancer with not much experience I couldn’t bare the thought of charging for the extra hours. So I worked 14 extra hours for $0.
As I reached my initial deadline, I was honest with the client. I said I had grossly underestimated the time I would need to design and write copy for a fully functioning WordPress site (theme and all) and that I would be working extra time. They weren’t pleased, and in the heat of the moment I let them know I would continue to work on the project as promised, without any extra charge.
I had around 24 hours to get the rest of the work done and I planned an all nighter – only to get home and find that the wifi was broken. My phone, although fine with a personal hotspot all day, all of a sudden wouldn’t connect. GREAT.
This was my welcome to Freelance Life.
It’s okay to fail
12 months on, and I still accidentally underquote. Let’s be honest. Anyone in the business of consulting/freelancing, knows it’s not easy going out by yourself. When you only have yourself to rely on, you are going to make mistakes. Plenty of them!
So, instead of crying into my pillow every night, I take time each week to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made and how I can avoid them in the future. I believe that in every mistake there is a lesson, but sometimes we are just too proud to admit we’re wrong.
Well, I’m here to say I’m wrong all the time, and I love it! Because every time I’m wrong about something, I know that I’ll be right about that particular thing each and every time after that.
Here are the 10 Lessons I’ve learnt during my first year of Freelancing, and in particular from that first client:
Quote a BASIC package – and under promise when you quote (that way it’s easy to over deliver)
UPSELL! Once you sell a basic package, offer extra bits and pieces that make your work stand out as upsells. Don’t offer up everything right away.
Include Research & Planning in Quotes. You WILL spend time researching, make sure you’re paid for it.
Design is Fiddly. Never underestimate the fiddlyness of web development (even on WordPress). 1 hour turns to 3 hours very quickly!
Buy Plugins & Pay for tools to help you. This is NOT CHEATING. This is simply you using the available tools to do the best work you can.
Clarify EVERYTHING in numbers. Hired for Ad copy? How many tests will you need to run, how many characters are needed in the title?
Always confirm costs! If you have just “secured” a job via email with a client, ensure you get in writing that they are willing to pay for your time.
Be Extremely Specific. Yes it’s annoying to write long emails, especially to new clients, but TRUST ME. Specifics means you don’t get ripped off.
Plan and write first! Do NOT start writing copy in your website until mapping it out on paper. Otherwise you could spend hours doing fiddly stuff
Leave Formatting until the VERY END! You need to make sure you have the content of your work done before formatting. It’s a black hole…
Have you made as many mistakes as me?
As I go, I continue to learn so much about what NOT to do, from all my lovely mistakes. So please if you have any mistakes you’ve made that you can help others avoid – share them OR email me and maybe we can chat about it in a podcast?
Alternatively, if you want some help with copywriting, marketing or adulting drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.