It is often said we learn more from mistakes than successes. Sometimes it is nice to learn from another persons goofs rather than your own! Every freelancer will have their own stories to tell, here are mine. I hope you find them useful and maybe you will share with others.
Most of us will have done this at early days of freelancing and many of us still do. Money is a difficult subject for a lot of people. While I am better at talking about money now than I was freelancer newbie, I still find it an uncomfortable topic. You have a right to earn a fair price for your work, and doubly so when you are good at your job and have excellent experience. How do you know if you are underpricing? If you do good work but you never lose a bid then your prices are too low.
Also be careful about charging by the hour when you don’t have to. When you charge by the hour you are actually penalizing yourself for getting faster at your work! Also some jobs require considerable experience and expertise while taking little time to execute.
Start-ups (new businesses)
This was possibly my second biggest problem as I was freelancing newbie. Some day long time ago I had (and I still have) few emails a day asking me to develop or design the website for new – start-up companies or for charities for free or quiet often people will offer you even unpaid intern-ship.. you will get them a lot every day 🙂
Somebody will call/email to you and ask from you to do website for company or profit shares.. While it may sound great, you have to think ahead. You may end up doing not only site development but also SEO and maybe even marketing for them absolutely for free as they give you shares only from sales or profit they made via website (HUH?)
The best advice against it is ask them back – as new company, you have an accountant, mobile phone number, office and other stuff which you paying for but non of the money left for your online presentation and marketing? Usually when you ask them this via phone, conversation will quickly end and you will not be even able to say good bye.
Some people love them.. I don’t. Last time one company approached me and ask me for interview. I said to myself great, lets have it. When I arrived to the reception, I was taken upstairs to nice looking office where we was talking about ‘job offer’. They demanded from me to do lot of work as stand alone (no team) person, most of the time advanced coding and Linux server administration which I’m fine with it, but when our discussion comes to the point regards wages I was told right to my face that they will pay me only travel and food allowances as this is offer for unpaid intern-ship, but they will provide me with the space to gain great experiences and great references on my CV/Resume. – Experiences of what? The stuff I already know? References on CV saying that I was working for someone for free? Basically what they wanted was someone who will do the work for them for free. I would maybe consider intern-ship if there was any potential to really gain some new experience or learn something new but this was just about work for free and 98% of all those intern-ship offers are same scam. Solution for this scams are very simple.. learn how to say no.
I have no problem to do any work for charity I have to know what is that charity about, what is purpose of that charity, how they make it and what they do. I do open source stuff like translating programs and support various Linux distros with free websites, creating manuals in my own languages even helping others on irc and I think that is enough but sometimes charities approach you too. If you willing to do any work for charity make sure you treat them as normal client.. make sure you give them contract which cover all job from A to Z (even if the job is for free) as you don’t want to end up like slave. It is very easy for anyone specially for charities to make constantly new requests for free ad-ups or changes.
Can you do a free sample?
I always say no and you should do it as well. Just don’t work for free or for promise that maybe I will get paid.
Can you match price of other cheaper designer?
No, if you do excellent work, you should get paid for it. You wont buy Ferrari for same price like LDV van!
We don’t need the contract, I will pay you trust me
This is biggest mistake for any freelancer specially for a newbie. It doesn’t matter who the client is, even if it’s your mother – always use proper documentation and signed contracts when starting a new project. Regardless of the project size, whether you’re building a comprehensive e-commerce store or a small 3 page brochure or website, at the very least, use work orders, and have everything double checked, and signed off upon before proceeding. Its just not worth it otherwise. By using formal contracts, you’re protecting yourself legally in case any disputes or non payment issues arise.
I will pay you once the site is up and running
This is another biggest mistake for freelancer. Just don’t work for free or for promise that maybe I will get paid. Always ask for 50% up front payment. If the client have problem to pay you half of money up front, you can clearly see that he will have problem to pay you whole amount once the site is up and running. Don’t get your self lock out. Even in Tesco you have to pay up front for anything you want, right?