The 5 missteps most new freelancers commit and how to avoid them

This is a general article on all freelance gigs, not just writing, but truth is truth, and the misstemps here are universal.

Alas, the treacherous freelancing path!
Alas, the treacherous path of the freelancer

by Nancy Van Brunt

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to leave the corporate world to enjoy the flexibility and earnings potential of freelancing, you’re not alone. The “Freelancing in America: 2019” (FIA) study co-commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union found that, for the first time, half of the freelancer respondents said they view this way of working as a long-term career choice. The share of those who freelance full time increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% in 2019.

As the head of freelancer and agency success for Upwork, I see new independent professionals struggling with mistakes that limit their potential for finding satisfying, well-paying work. The good news is that you don’t have to fall prey to these missteps. Here’s how to start your freelance career on the right track.

Newbie mistake #1: Undercharging

Top earners aren’t afraid to focus exclusively on clients who understand their worth. The majority of clients are looking for quality and understand that they get what they pay for. Furthermore, many clients are unsure how to price projects and are looking to you to guide them on an appropriate budget (and scope). After all, you’re the expert — so don’t shy away from consulting and negotiating.

Before you set your rates, research the market to benchmark what others with similar skill sets are charging and then adjust based on your experience level. You might be pleasantly surprised: The data shows that some independent professionals are earning more than $250 an hour for work in categories that span nearly every industry, including tech, marketing, legal, and finance.

Newbie mistake #2: Not thinking like a business

Freelancing comes with many ancillary tasks. That means you have to remember all the tasks that businesses routinely handle, from budgeting and contracts to invoicing and client communication. It also includes marketing, business development, and sales. When you decide to freelance, you are launching a business!

The most important thing you can do to establish credibility and gain more business is creating a professional, polished portfolio. Clients want to see what you’ve accomplished — and what you can do for them….

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