Freelancing is becoming the new normal as more and more people are swapping their 9-5 jobs for more time and more meaning in life. But how well prepared are you before venturing into freelance? There are countless advice out there on how to prepare and keep your freelance business afloat, but these 6 common mistakes are key areas that any new freelancer should avoid!

1. Not marketing yourself on social media

Are you spending too much time browsing your social media for fun or ignoring it altogether? Social media is now the biggest marketing tool out there so use it to your advantage to promote yourself. Check out this article on how to avoid 7 Common Social Media Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Freelance Business.

2. No website or a name card

Nothing is more embarrassing than not preparing yourself when meeting a potential prospect. Prospective clients do not like to waste time on someone who is unprepared and unprofessional. Print out name cards before going on a meeting. Showcase your works on a relevant social media platform if you do not have a website. It is better to have something out there than with nothing at all!

3. Not networking enough

Meeting new people may be a daunting and tiring task for new freelancers, but it is a necessary evil. Networking is among the best ways to get new business via word-of-mouth and face-to- face meet-ups. Sign up for business networking events, go out and meet people, spread the word among your friends and loved ones. To keep yourself recognised and relevant in the market, you should be spending at least once a week on networking. Don’t forget to follow-up after the first meeting!

4. Clueless on how to determine your rates

It is all too easy throw out a price out there without sufficiently explaining to the client why you are worth what you are worth, and the client may end up pushing you to lower your price
without seeing pass your true value or finding someone else. In order to determine your prices, peg your rates to the value of your time, validity of your work and the costs of doing your business. Whether you are pricing by the hour or by a flat rate, it is important to calculate the estimated hours it will take you to do a particular piece of work. Ensure that you define your deliverables to the client to prevent going below what you are worth.

5. Not being friends with your competitors

You may see your competitors as what they are – competitors. However, refusing to build a good relationship with your competitors or even learn from them can have adverse effects on your business. You do not know when they may need your help one day, refer you to others or pass you a potential project if their hands are full.

6. No contract before the start of a project

Never ever start any project without a contract! Don’t give in to the sweet talk by potential clients (even by your own friends!) that contracts are not necessary. It is better to drop such people in the first place than get involved in messy lawsuits. It is highly advised that you engage a lawyer to draft out your contract suitable to your industry than randomly pluck the clauses out from Google, which may backfire on you if a lawsuit does happen.

contributed by Maria Fung