25/06/2015

By Lucy Futter, Co-Working blogger and owner of The Workstead

There are two types of freelancer – The first, a seasoned professional and expert in their field… Someone so experienced they’re ready to branch out alone and recognise the value in their particular skill. The second is a talented creative. Usually young, sometimes cocky and always buzzing with ideas, they’re the polar opposite of the first, but together can become the dream team.

It’s always fun to watch as a co-working space breeds business relationships that may never have existed before. But even though there are different types of freelancer, they’ve all made at least one of these mistakes. Here are the 5 freelancing faux pas you need to avoid –

1. Undervaluing Yourself

Know your worth, and know when to walk away. A fresh freelancer who is wet behind the ears will always be caught in to haggling over their fee. Now whilst negotiation is at the core of client relationships, this isn’t a car boot sale. Working for pennies will make you look desperate, so make sure you put a realistic price on your work, but be ready to add value. Throw in something extra, but never let that fee drop too low or you’ll look like a beginner. Think of it like buying a winter coat – You get what you pay for. Are you Primark or Prada?

2. Overselling

In our open office co-working environment, we all hear each other out when it comes to figuring out the niggles, and the main piece of advice I’ve been asked is “How do I win this business?” Now the answer, if you’ve already sold your strengths and followed up professionally, is STOP! Otherwise, it’s the equivalent of a needy girlfriend calling on the hour, every hour and not taking no for an answer. If you’re not getting keen vibes from a new contact then don’t get pushy. A follow up email with your contact details and services for the future is fine. Sending mugs with your smiling face and business name on them is not.

3. Time Management Mishaps

Self-discipline is the least likely trait of a freelancer. Whether we’re on Twitter or getting distracted by the cat, the work-from-home environment is a minefield of ways-to-waste-hours. But I don’t have to tell you that this will not only effect your motivation, but it will in turn ruin your reputation and thus your income. If you can’t stay focussed solo you won’t last long and will end up back in the 9-5 before you can say “Failing at Freelancing”

4. Ignorant Invoicing

Have a look at your day. Are you charging the right amount? What are you spending your time doing? Only charging for your core service will cost you. Things like researching, building client relationships, and even your actual accounting and invoicing itself… While you may not be able to itemise and charge for this, it’s all time spent and money lost if you don’t build it in to your rate.

5. Forgetting To Grow

Don’t get stuck in a rut. It’s so easy when you’re lone working to get caught up in keeping your day together that you lose the foresight to plan your growth. You need to keep up to date with clients, networking and courses to make sure you’ve got the best contacts in the business and keep up to date with industry patterns and practice. So book time in your calendar to stop your competitors from sneaking up behind you and stealing your clients.

The best way to combat most of these issues is to find a Co-Working space near you and, even once a week, go in for a “day at the office” or join them for an event. Giving up the office job doesn’t have to mean giving up the office, and the structure of the Co-Working space has so many benefits. If nothing else, it keeps you socialised and you won’t end up in your pyjamas every day, addicted to Jeremy Kyle and talking to the cat.

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