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Life is a dynamic phenomenon. We come to this life as a learner and in its totality, life is a great school where we learn day and night . When we start our professional life, no matter how skilled we are, we make mistakes. These mistakes help us move towards our professional perfection. This is why Dale Carnegie once said, ‘the successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way’. No doubt, mistakes are actually learning phases. But, sometimes mistakes cost a lot, not only in the form of financial losses but also in the form of psychological problems. They may prove insidious to the success of new freelance designers. Therefore, here we are going to talk about a few mistakes that new freelancers make when they begin as freelancers. This discussion may help those who are getting into or thinking of getting into full-time freelancing.
1. Not having Sufficient Start-up Amount
Some people are part-time freelancers and some are full-time freelancers. When people start as full-time freelancers, they have to work harder to establish their name and skills . But, it may take time before they start earning handsome amount. New full-time freelancers sometimes don’t have sufficient start-up amount. This can cause their confidence and enthusiasm to sap down. In order to avoid stress and anxiety, the best thing is to make sure that you have enough start-up amounts to compensate for the uncertainties that full-time freelancing entails. In addition, the start-up amount should meet your personal and family expenses as well for a few months before you start earning as a freelancer.
2. Lacking the right Marketing Strategies.
Having the right skills and experience are not enough. The competition is high. Freelancers need to be aware of marketing strategies. With the right marketing strategies and persuasive skills, you can not only satisfy your existing clients but also win new clients. Some freelancers overlook the importance of using the right marketing strategies. This can seriously damage their business.
3. Not being Selective about New Projects
When you start as a freelancer, you are ambitious of professional and want make your portfolio richer by doing more and more project. In order to achieve this objective you want to go the extra mile. But, in doing so, you may strain your powers and may undertake projects which lie beyond your area of expertise and specialization. This ambitiousness can create problems for you. You may have to learn about new things. You may not be able to complete the project well in time and you may not be able to give quality in your work. Therefore, the best thing is to be selective about the new projects and opportunities. The world does not lack in new projects. So, go for the projects which match your best skills.
4. Ineffective Communication.
Communication is very important in business. Effective communication leads to effective consummation of a project and poor communication vice versa. In having effective communication with clients, freelancers should make sure that their communication with their clients addresses the finer and vital pints of effective communication such as completeness, conciseness, concreteness, clarity, courtesy and
5. Jumping to Work with Sketchy Details from Clients
In designing, as in other jobs, you have to follow the information and specifications given by clients. The more detailed specifications are provided to you, the better results you can yield in quality of the projects give. So, details of specification are important. But, when designers start as freelancers, being ambitious and in search of work, they may jump to work before the client has furnished sufficient details about the project given. Starting with sketchy details can be disastrous for you as well as you client. Therefore, make sure that you get as much details from your client as possible. Take your time, talk to them, Skype with them. When you are clear about the intentions or objectives of your client about a given project, you can start with confidence. If the details are not properly described by the client, you may have the management issue of requirement creep. Let us see what requirement creep is.
6. Requirement Creep
Requirement creep refers the phenomenon of increases in requirements regarding a project. In other words it refers to the addition of unplanned tasks and features in a given project. Additional requirements creep into the scope of a project. It occurs when the scope of a task is not defined and described. Having lax attitude towards documentation of a project requirement can lead to this problem. Clients insist on the completion of additional tasks as parts of the same project without giving any budget increase or compensation to contractors. As a result, contractors may have to overrun its limits of budget and schedule. Appropriate communication regarding the definition and description of a given project can help in addressing this problem of requirement creep. If additional requirements creep into the scope of a project, contractors should ask for corresponding increases in budget and schedule. One of the reasons that can lead to requirement creep is going without contracts.
7. Going without Contracts and Written Agreements
Some freelances get down to work without entering into proper contract with their client. Verbal agreements are not sufficient. Going without contracts and written agreement can lead to the problems of misunderstanding between clients and the contractors. Therefore, the best thing is to go for a contract with clients. A contract clearly defines the scope, the requirements, schedule, ownership of rights and budget of a project. It sets guidelines for contractors. It protects clients as well as a contractor. Therefore, never get down to a project without a contract.
8. Not Asking for Percentage Upfront
Percentage upfront Payment is one of the things that protect contractors. Some new freelancers get down to projects without having percentage upfront payment for a project. This may put contractors at risk and may lead to payment problems later. It brings commitment in the project on the part of both the clients and the contractors. Therefore, in order to avoid any payment mishaps, don’t hesitate to ask for upfront payment for a project.
9. Burn-outs , Stresses and Strains
Time is one of the most critical things in life. It is your great asset as a designer. You are paid for your time and skills. Certainly, you cannot spend all your time doing work. Burning out all your energies on work can lead to physical and mental collapse. You should have time for your family and friends. New freelancers may fall into the pitfall of not calculating their time against the projects given. It is important to keep a record of how much time you spend while performing various tasks of a project. If you are lax about how much time you spend on a project, you may run into losses by having vague ideas about your rates as a contractor. You may ask for lower rates. Tracking your time will bring to the fore your strengths and weaknesses as a professional. So track your time spent on projects to avoid burn-outs. Don’t let your job stresses and strains creep into your family life.
10. Behavioral Dynamics and Social Skills
Professional life is different from family life. Our behavior at home is casual and informal. At work we have to be formal and careful in our behavior and the words we speak. When other people hire your services, sometimes there can be problems of ego and temper. You may have personality clashes with certain clients. There can be clients who may lacerate your temper. But, dealing with such clients patiently can bring you more clients and losing your temper can vice versa. So be well at social graces and skills
11. Mistakes Gnawing at Professional Confidence.
As mentioned in the beginning, we learn from mistakes. If we want professional perfection, we should accept our mistakes, mishaps, and lapses. Don’t lose your energies in worrying a lot. Don’t let your mistakes gnaw at your professional confidence. Be cool at your blunders and bloopers . We cannot be perfect without mistakes. Focus on your future prospects. Take a problem-solving stance at your mistakes. Kubler-Ross once said,’there are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from’. So mistakes form a part of our experience.
Of course, this discussion does not encompass all the mistakes made by new full-time freelancers. The mistakes made by freelancers may vary from person to person and situation to situation. We have tried to focus on some of the common mistakes made by new full-time freelancers. In this discussion we highlighted 11 mistakes that new full-time freelancers make. In order to succeed as new freelancer you need to have sufficient start-up amount, the right marketing skills, social skills, and a catholic attitude towards your own mistakes. You should avoid burn-outs, working without percentage upfront, requirement creep and verbal agreements. Be selective about projects, have effective communication with your clients and don’t jump to work with sketchy details given by a client about a project.