6 freelance mistakes you might be making

Avoid these common blunders, which could cost you money, clients or your sanity.

Freelancing and working from home can offer immense creative and professional satisfaction, but there are plenty of challenges too. From the stress of juggling multiple projects and knowing you're 100 per cent responsible for them, to clearing your schedule for work that never materialises, freelancing can be as distressing and infuriating as it can be brilliant.

We've already bought you the ultimate 10 steps to freelance success – here are six common mistakes to avoid…

01. Small claims

Freelance mistakes

Illustration: Emmanuel Pajon

Are you claiming every tax-deductible expense to which you're entitled? Have you checked? You'd be surprised what's eligible, including pot plants for your home workspace and some parking fees (but not penalties).

02. Double jeopardy

It's all too easy to spend your money twice. You've completed a project, invoiced the client and mentally added the fee to your earnings, so you spend that amount. Then you actually receive the fee and spend it again. There's barely a freelancer alive who's never done this. You probably shouldn't do it again, though.

03. Time out

Are you leaving yourself any time to stare out of windows, slump on sofas, fiddle, faff and waste time, or are you allocating every hour in your carefully-timetabled working week to doing something specific? Clear some space to take time out and rest your brain. You should find it boosts your creativity in the long run.

04. Web history

It looks deeply unprofessional if your website lists broken links or out of date contact information. It's also less than impressive if you keep linking to a blog that has no entries, or a portfolio that hasn't been updated in three years. Make sure your website is relevant, functioning and up to date.

05. Pay check

Do you know how much you earned last week, last month or even last year? How are things going now – are they better or worse? How much more work do you need to do to break even this month? If you can't answer, it's time to stop making like an ostrich and take a look at your accounts.

06. Self-care

Such trivial matters as eating, sleeping and changing clothes can fall by the wayside when you're close to a deadline, especially if you happen to work in the building where you keep your pyjamas. Take care of yourself and you'll function better in the long run.

The full version of this article first appeared in Computer Arts issue 249 - a special issue packed with pro advice for going freelance and stepping your freelance career up a level.

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