My 3 Biggest Mistakes as a Freelancer

The other day, I was reflecting on what was my biggest mistakes as a freelance web designer.  While I have made many mistakes, the thought of figuring out what my three biggest mistakes was a challenge. You are not going to be in business for 12 years and not make a mistake here and there.

Not wanting to sugar coat my freelance experiences, I am just going to be what I try to be every day. Transparent.  My three biggest mistakes were lack of showcasing my knowledge, not looking at my future, and forgetting my target audience.

Lack of Showcasing my knowledge

Build it and they will come.  Design a great website and put some search engine optimization (SEO) keywords, and your phone will rang off the hook.  You will get super great projects, and the clients will want to pay you $10,000 or more for each project.

You will be a rock star to your family, community and live the life that you have always wanted.  Then reality hits and your phone does not ring.  You find yourself soliciting projects on job boards and clients are looking to pay you $500 instead of $10, 000. 12 – 14 hours days are the norm.  No time for your family, and every project is used to pay for this or that bill.  This freelance thing is no fun.

That was me for a couple of years, I did not showcase my knowledge.  My desire to keep working and take any project available, for fear that I would not get another one.  Knowing that I need to change this mindset, my business mentor insisting that I join a community of WordPress designer and developers.  This was the best advise that I could have every received.  Did it provide me with more opportunities? No, but it allow me to give away free help.  There is something in the universe, when you help someone…it comes back twice fold.

Developing relationships with fellow designers and developers have been a saving grace for my business, and allows me to bounce off ideals with others.  These ideals are typically the same issues or problems which my fellow web designers are confronted with on a daily basis. How do I manage a project?  How do I get in front of my ideal project?  How to manage my finances?  What do you do with a client, who does not pay you on time?

Not looking at my future

One of a freelance greatest fears is living feast or famine. You find a potential project, secure the project, get the down payment, create the project and finally get the balance.  Then the process starts over again.  Some freelance experience this every single month. I am guilty of this…and the feeling is not good.  You are constantly worried about having a month or two with no work.  No work means…no money. And when you do get a project in, you need to use the money to catch up from the previous bad months.

You have to look at your future.  Create a budget and place funds in your saving for the future.  You can not live off of your project today.  Making sure that if you have a good month, that does not mean that you need to make up for poor months. Buying an expensive gift, taking your family on a special trip, eating out more than usually because you have money…remember next month will be here before you know it.

How to ease this stuck in a cycle mentality is to budget.  Do not look at the money that you are earning today?  Keep the big picture in mind…save your money. Try not to look for instant gratification.  Someone once told me that … “You can not drive forward, by looking through the rearview mirror.” – Anonymous

You have to do some things which are uncomfortable, so that your freelance business is comfortable.  Budget and saving.  Keeping tomorrow in mind with every decision.

Forgetting my target audience

Funny thing about being in business so long, is that I have meet so many allege successful freelancer.  But they are here today and gone tomorrow.  Many of them have built this website and do this branding for this and that company.  One of the first things that I say when describing my business..is that I create websites for faith based and non profit organization.  That is my niche…

Several times during my journey, I have tried to create sites outside of my expertise.  While I have had great success, if the client has search me out.  And these experiences are not what I am discussing, I have searched out projects.  And I know that they were way outside my expertise.  These projects, at least in my mind were high paying projects.  The client did not know their pain points, and nor did I…the projects were a mess.

Building a web site based on solving a pain point, even if the client does not realize the issues.  Always creates a good working experiences.  Knowing your target audience should provide you with these types of opportunities.

Conclusion

Do not fit into the “Build it and they will come” mentality. You have to provide some worth, before your ideal client will seek you out.  Branding and marketing are just as important as your website. You should be AMY, always marketing yourself.  Do not get stuck in a cycle?  Tomorrow will come, so get out the feast or famine cycle.  Create a budget. Save for the raining day.  Eliminate taking bad projects to pay the bills…And finally work on your niche. Find your target audience and market toward them daily, weekly, monthly…all day, everyday.

Image courtesy of Insung Yoon.

JDS WebDesign is a Web Design and Brand Marketing Agency located in Marietta, Georgia.  We create AWESOME on line presence for Faith Base, Non Profit and Influential People/Organizations.  To learn more about me or how I can help you and your organization, let’s schedule a 15 – 30 minute coffee.  I can be reached by clicking here..

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