5 Killer Freelance Mistakes You Might Be Making

Let me tell you about freelance writing. Last year, my family went on four vacations — including a trip to New Zealand and an Alaska cruise. We’re not wealthy, but it’s been about two years since I worried about making all my ends meet.

And I do it on three hours of writing a day, from home, with my baby on my lap.

The point here isn’t that I’m awesome — I’m in fact less awesome than many other freelancers I know. The point is that making a good living as a freelancer is easy. You just have to avoid the worst freelancing mistakes.

1. Not Using a Schedule

I know, I know, I know. You got into freelance writing to escape from the constraints of a planner-driven life. Sadly, owning your time means you have to pay more attention to how you spend it. Sticking to a work schedule can double or triple your productivity — which means doubling or tripling your pay.

2. Scarcity-Based Budgeting

Too many freelancers look at what they’ve made at the end of the quarter, then figure out how to make that meet their needs. Instead, decide how much you want to make. Then find the work you need to reach that goal. Never spend more than you bring in, but plan your work according to what you want — not what you end up with.

3. Charging Too Little

Carol Tice of The Freelance Writers’ Den reports that the average rate for a single pro blog post is over $100 for 400 words. Those feature articles you read in National Geographic or your airline magazine each got the writer $2,000 to $5,000. Stop writing for $10 a post.

4. Avoiding Marketing

Lots of us don’t market because we don’t like it, and many aren’t sure how to do it anyway — but without marketing you’re doomed to a scarcity of work. Start with social network and community marketing, then work your way up to hitting up potential clients cold.

5. Working Like an Artiste

I’ve said it beforemore than once…the problem with most freelancers is they don’t act like professionals. They flake on assignments, react poorly to requests for change, and generally act like a stereotypical prima donna. I came to this after spending years in business management and ownership, with all the frustration at flaky employees that involves. I spare my clients that frustration, and that has made all the difference.

Who among us is guilty of these five mistakes? Better yet, who among us has figured out how to avoid or correct them? Comment below.

Image credit U.S. Department of Treasury

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