“Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.” That is one of the worst pieces of advice you'll ever get about freelancing, but if you don't know any better, you'll take it. It's bad advice one because you begin to spend more money than you're making, and two because you don’t take the time to figure out how easily you could do well as a freelancer without breaking the bank. Here's the truth: You don't need to break the bank. In reality, breaking into freelancing is far easier than you probably think it is. But some of the best advice out there is what not to do, based on the variety of mistakes people make all the time doing it on their own. Here are 7 growing pains to avoid when you begin your freelancing career.You think you have to have your own paid website.
1. You think you have to pay a lot for a website.
There’s something about spending money that makes you feel official, so it's tempting to buy into a fancy website design company and begin shoveling out the monthly maintenance fee to keep your website up. Don't. It's a mistake! Here’s how you can avoid that mistake: Create a free website. When you’re making the good money, you can splurge on something nicer. To get started, try out Weebly. It’s an ultra-intuitive website design program that even tech-phobic folks can use. Weebly makes for a fantastic stepping stone because the first year of having your website is free – after that, it’s less than $20 a year. Mozello is another solid option for a free website creator. The basic version of Mozello is free, but if you want your own domain name, you’ll have to go for $7 a month (not bad, though, right?).
2. You don't withhold money for taxes.
This is one of the most common and most painful mistakes new freelancers make. You don't think about taxes. Because as soon as you start making money, you're just excited to spend it (or, more accurately for a lot of folks, use it to pay off loans. Yay, college!). Freelancers tend to be free spirits, and they don’t tend to be good at a little something called financial planning. Don't let your free spirit get you down in the long run. If this sounds like you, stop it! You need to make a change today. If you thought accountants were just for rich people, think again. Financial planning is a must-do, and it can also be affordable. Please welcome: LearnVest. LearnVest is the free (hallelujah!) financial planning service you never knew existed. You can get started for free here, and if you really get serious, go premium.
3. You try to make your own logo.
Because you’ve taken some drawing classes and you know how to do that, right? Wrong. Your time is valuable. You’ll quickly realize just how valuable your time is as jobs start coming in and you have to start deciding what to put your time into. While your freelancing brand is your baby, it’s important to know when to hand a task over to an expert. Instead of spending hours on a logo you’ll end up tossing, invest in an actual designer. When it comes to your logo, the investment is worth it. Branding is everything these days, and you want to look good, not like an amateur who’s just getting started. Support fellow freelancers by finding a designer on DesignCrowd (there’s a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with what you get) or be stubborn and do it yourself with Logojoy. Logo Joy uses artificial intelligence to help you make the logo that fits you, which is pretty darn cool and high-tech. A basic logo is just $20, or you can upgrade to premium for $65. If you’re beyond beginners’ stuff and want to get really serious, check out 99designs. It’s a huge marketplace filled with design experts from around the world. It can get pricey, but once it’s yours, it’s yours forever.
4. You use your personal phone as your business phone.
There are two reasons why this is problematic: One, you look unprofessional when a client calls you and reaches your goofy personal voicemail rather than a professional voicemail. Two, separating your work life from your personal life gets harder (the lines blur a lot when you work from home already). To avoid this mistake, consider investing in a business phone line. Grasshopper and eVoice provide an ultra-easy business line setup. If you aren’t quite ready to invest in a business line, eVoice offers a cool one-month free trial (you're welcome).
5. You become a workaholic.
Being your own boss is the dream, right? Not when there’s no one there to tell you to stop working, not when the amount of money you could be making is always bigger as long as you work for one more hour … or another … or another … Free-spirited freelancers can become workaholics fast. Yep, believe it. To avoid getting addicted to the grind and burning out, learn to schedule and prioritize your time. There are numerous tools out there to help you do this. Here's a simple one: the Pomodoro technique. Essentially, you set a certain amount of time for work and a certain amount of time for rest. Then you go back and forth on an interval. This is great for productivity, and it also gamifies work – you only have a certain amount of time to get something done, so you make the most of your time rather than wasting it procrastinating. It's sort of fun, and there are free interval timers all over the place.
6. You say yes too much.
Another part of being a workaholic is making too many promises to too many people. Make sure when you commit to a new gig that you have the proper time to give it, and that it’s going to forward your career. Don’t just take on work to take on work. Regularly check in with yourself each week. Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing making me happy or giving me more time to do the things that make me happy? Or, is this difficult task going to benefit me in the long run? If you can’t answer yes to either question, consider saying no to it.
7.You think you have to print off everything to sign it.
And that’s time-consuming when contracts get involved. Some fixes are easy fixes, though. Use Docusign. Check out their free trial here. Ready to conquer the world yet? Of course you are! Now go freelance!