Making money from freelancing can mean something different to each person. Maybe your goal is to work as a freelancer on the side for extra cash while you still work full-time or maybe you want freelancing to be your full-time job and make equal to what you were making in-office. Essentially, both goals work out to the same end: Money in your pocket.
While it can be hard to keep track of everything at once while freelancing—especially the bookkeeping end—here are some ways you may be losing money unintentionally in your work:
Taking on too much and only giving minimal effort
When the pay is small, you need to pick up the slack by taking on as many clients and projects as possible, right?
Well, not quite and here's why: you want these first-time clients to become repeat clients. Getting paid $50 one time for a blog isn't going to save you, but being hired on as a weekly blogger can help you gain consistent money.
When you are taking on too many clients, you are only giving each of them a percentage of your skills and attention. The best practice is to start out with a few clients, see which ones you can create a lasting relationship with and give them your all. This technique can easily net you a few re-occurring gigs.
Not negotiating your fees
Most freelancers have found jobs or had jobs offered to them where the payment was far below the industry average or your personal worth. The voices inside your head start saying "Well, it's money so I should just take it," which is false.
Know your worth and negotiate your fees. As freelancers, we sometimes are working with clients is other countries who may not understand the difference in pay and to them those fees are sufficient for their area. Don't be afraid to talk to your client about a fee you can both agree one--and if they cannot then maybe it is best to move forward.
Keeping dead-end clients
Clients are great, but they should also expand with you and not keep you feeling stagnant.
Sometimes, even though consistent payment feels good and safe, if it also feels like you are stuck doing the same things and you are not growing (both personally and monetarily) it may be time to cut the cord with that client.
Now, this does not mean you should just say goodbye without speaking to them on the subject. Maybe they think you are still enjoying the guaranteed weekly work and don't realize you want more out of the job. Always speak up, but if the conversation ends where it began then it is time to move on.
A lack of consistency with clients
This falls on the freelancer, as they are the ones who should continue contact with a client—even after the work is completed. If you had a good relationship with a specific client, then stay in touch. For freelance writers, if you write a story, they post it and then they don't hear from you regularly, then the lack of consistency may make you seem unreliable or you won't be a constant thought in their mind.
Same goes for other freelance disciplines where regular communication is key for continued work.
Positive relationships with clients will more times than not lead to a more consistent workload--as well as a great connection for other positions.
Doubting yourself with larger clients
Small clients work in the beginning. You need the experience and to build your portfolio, but these guys won't pay the bills and will lead you back to the first point on this list with too many clients and a potential burnout.
Doubting your abilities will cost you money and gigs you could have acquired had you reached out. Larger corporations will pay a lot more than many positions on Upwork or Guru, so it's best to start branching out--even if you are afraid to take the leap.
A lack of personal promotion
If all you are doing is pitching to already posted jobs, then you may find it hard to find new clients, as many are fighting for the same position.
Self-promotion through social media, meet-ups, and other personal networking is how you will find those jobs that are not posted for anyone else to see. You might catch a small business owner at the right time before they want to hire on a freelancer for their business needs and your personal pitch was the one that sealed the deal.
Taxes and missed deductions
Taxes can be the bane of any freelancer’s existence but they shouldn't be.
The key to ensuring you are not losing money with taxes is to find a tax consultant that has experience with freelancers and can get you the most out of your tax return. Missed deductions can be the difference of a few hundred dollars, so you want to make sure you are working with someone that can help you.
For those who self-file, the statement above applies as well, but the responsibility falls on you.
Sarah DeGeorge currently freelances in the content creation and social media marketing realm but dabbles in public relations from time to time as well. When she isn't helping clients she is most likely helping the stray animal population of Philadelphia or traveling somewhere new.
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