Top 15 Freelance Mistakes to Avoid

If you have encountered some freelance mistakes during your journey, don’t worry. Know that you are not alone and a lot of other freelancers are experiencing the same things as you are. However, to make things a little easier for you, this list will help you find out the mistakes you need to avoid in the future.

Back then, there was very little support for freelancers, simply because it was a concept that was new. Freelancers had to make their own mistakes and learn from them. But now, the freelancing community is growing and new freelancers are getting support and guidance that can make their journey easier. And what better way to learn than by learning from the mistakes of others?

15 Freelance Mistakes to Avoid

If you are new, you definitely need to check out some of the mistakes other freelancers have made. Even if you have been freelancing for a few months or even a year, there might still be some things you have yet to encounter. And the list below is still something you can learn from to improve as a freelancer:

1. Not Being Prepared

When you become a freelancer, there should be a period where you set everything up first. You need to prepare everything from your portfolio to your invoice template, right down to your contracts and your payment methods. These are the things you have to prepare even before you start looking for clients.

Some freelancers also do a good job by already having their branding intact and creating business profiles on social media. It is definitely a mistake to not have all of these preparations because they take time to make. If you ever start talking to a client and they start asking you for your proposal or portfolio, you should have these ready. Take too long to reply and you might lose your potential client.

2. Taking on Random Jobs

Whether you are scrambling for money or just going bored from not working, it is a freelance mistake to apply for and accept random jobs. It might be tough and you want to make ends meet but this is not a good start or a good process for your freelancing business. Being a freelancer, one of the best paths is to have a specialization or a niche. You stick to this and you can become successful easier as opposed to trying to handle jobs that you can do but you aren’t really passionate about.

For example, if you are a freelance artist and you specialize in animation, you stick to this. It can be tempting to accept short and abundant gigs like doing self-portraits or web designing. But if this isn’t really going to help you boost your animating skills, don’t force yourself to do it.

3. Thinking You Will Only Do Your Freelance Work

This is one of the most common freelance mistakes people make. If you are new to freelancing, you might expect that you only need to work on your job, for example, programming. But as a freelancer, you are going to do more than just programming. You have to talk to clients, you have to do admin work, you have to learn how to write proposals, you have to be your own accountant, and so on. Freelancing is pretty much running your own business and you are the only person in it.

4. Letting Work Eat Your Schedule

Now, this isn’t a mistake exclusive to freelancers, pretty much the entire workforce is guilty of this. A work-life balance is a must. Even if you have a ton of projects going on or working with an important client, nothing should be more important than your health. You have 24 hours in a day and not every waking hour should be allotted to working on your projects.

This is something freelancers commit, sometimes they are not even aware of it. You can get into a mood where you feel productive so you just keep working and working. In the end, you’ll get burnt out and your work will suffer, too. So do set aside time for other important things in your life, like socialization, exercise, and rest.

5. Not Realizing the Importance of Networking

Drawings of different people interconnected with lines

Just because you are a one-person team doesn’t mean you are a lone wolf. The freelancing world has an amazing community and it helps to be a part of it. Networking is a must for freelancers because it’s an excellent way to learn new things, secure new jobs, and even find a freelancing support group. For example, if you have too much on your plate, you can find a fellow freelancer to take on some gigs for you. They can also do the same or ask you to collaborate with other projects.

6. Saying Yes to Everything

When you are new, saying yes to everything can be so easy, simply because it’s so hard to say no. But this is a freelance mistake as it can lead to burnout in the future. What’s more, you won’t have control over your clients and projects. When you are starting out, it’s hard to be picky, especially if you are running low on funds. Maybe, you are also eager to start working. But if you say yes to the very first opportunity and every other opportunity after that, you’ll have nothing left for yourself.

It’s important to filter your clients and your work. That’s one of the best things about freelancing, you have a choice. This isn’t like the corporate world where you get stuck with a client and you can’t do anything about it. As a freelancer, you can pick out your clients the same way clients can pick out freelancers. Don’t say yes to everything, say yes to projects and clients that can help you grow.

7. Not Utilizing Freelancing Software

Freelancers of today are way luckier as they have more resources. And not using these available tools is one of the major freelance mistakes. Kosmo is an online freelancing app that can pretty much cover your admin duties. It allows you to list your clients and projects all in one place. It even has tools for invoicing, templates for contracts and proposals, and even a time tracker to keep you in check.

Utilizing this handy app can definitely help you get organized with your freelancing journey. It can make your life easier and you can focus more on your actual work instead of worrying about billing your clients wrong or keeping your documents organized.

8. Going Too High or Too Low on Rates

Rates as a freelancer can be very tricky, you don’t want to undersell or oversell yourself. The best thing to do is to go with the average or standard rates, especially if you are new to freelancing. When you go too low, clients may think something is wrong with your work, or that you can be taken advantage of. And if you go too high, no one will book you or the client will have too many expectations.

9. Not Doing the Math

Stack of coins on the forefront with a blurred clock in the background

Aside from your rates, you also need to figure out if you are actually making a profit. You have to do the math and figure out if you will actually earn enough money from a project. Because you do need to survive and make a living. Make sure that the money you earn can cover your expenses while you work (think: electricity bill, coffee shop receipt, etc.) and also you get a little extra in the end.

10. Focusing on One Client (Without a Contract)

As a freelancer, you need to learn to juggle clients. But in some cases, you might find yourself working for just one. When this happens, make sure that you have a contract. Or else, you might end up with nothing. The client can pull out anytime and not pay you.

11. Forgetting to Learn or Improve

Freelancing mistakes are not just about the actual work or dealing with clients. It’s also about yourself and your self-improvement. When you are a freelancer, it’s very common to get stuck in a cycle or loop of work. You get a new client, finish your deliverables, get paid, and repeat. It’s important to allot time to learn new skills or improve on your specialization.

This isn’t just for your well-being. Staying current with the trends of your industry is a plus for some clients. It can be your edge over your competitors.

12. Not Checking Out the Competition

There are thousands of freelancers who are in the same industry as you. So, how can you possibly get picked by a client when there are so many choices? Freelance mistakes also include competitors. You need to check what’s new with other freelancers in your industry. Are they charging more? Do they start offering packages? How much are their rates? Do they have new training?

Getting information about your competitors can also be a way to improve yourself. It can also show you maybe you need to change up your rates, enhance your branding, or start offering better services.

13. Being Too Casual

Freelancing doesn’t mean you are free from the social interactions that are commonly found in the corporate world. It’s one of the major freelance mistakes: being too casual. You have to remain professional when talking to clients. This is still a job, you are not their bestie who is doing a favor. You are getting paid for this work.

14. Doing Work Whenever

Woman sleeping on couch in the background, a clock and laptop on a table on the foreground.

Yes, freelancing may make you think of freedom. But you can’t really work whenever you feel like it. You should still have a system so that you don’t miss your deadlines. It’s also important to follow the work schedule of your client so you are available if ever they need you.

15. Not Trying

Finally, the worst of the freelance mistakes would have to be not trying. If you are new, you may be apprehensive to try applying for a job or trying to take on a project. Maybe you are scared of rejection? But if you don’t try, nothing will happen to you as a freelancer. You can’t succeed if you don’t try.


There are probably more freelance mistakes that you may encounter in the future but the important thing is that you learn from them. The freelancing industry can be challenging but it is with these challenges that you grow. Don’t be afraid of freelance mistakes, be more afraid of not giving yourself a chance to become a successful freelancer.

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