The Top 8 Mistakes Beginner Freelancers Make + Why You’re Not Landing Clients

Mistakes Freelancers Make

As a beginner freelancer, (and as a human being) making mistakes is inevitable. Back in 2016 when I first started freelancing, I certainly made my fair share of them; I said yes too much, I signed nightmare clients, I made a lot of excuses to keep myself from starting. I did all of it.

Since then, however, I’ve successfully worked with over 40+ freelance clients and luckily have gotten better and better as a result.

So learn from me – do not make these mistakes and you’ll get started so much faster than I ever did. Without further ado, here are the 8 most common mistakes beginner freelancers make.

🌱 Mistake #1: Not Understanding What Phase of Freelancing You’re In

I’m a strong believer that there are phases to every freelancing journey – or ‘seasons’ if you will.

Each season has different priorities and when you focus on the right priorities for that season, you make your freelancing career much more sustainable and lucrative for yourself long-term.

And I believe the first phase of every freelancer’s journey should be growth and learning.

I know making money is always a priority no matter the season – but I promise that you’ll make MUCH more money long-term if you focus on learning and growth in your first phase over making quick cash.

My best advice to you when you’re a beginner is:

Prioritize learning everything you can (technical skill set and soft skills) and work with as many clients as you can to understand how things work behind the scenes and practice your skills, get portfolio samples, get testimonials and get better and faster at the services you offer.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: You are your biggest asset as a freelancer. When you develop yourself, your value increases and your rates follow; they will scale much faster than if you focus too much on money in the beginning.

💸 Mistake #2: Setting Your Prices Too High

This is related to the first point and this is my personal opinion (my uNpOpUlar opinion, if you will). I’m not a financial advisor, I’m just a freelance advice giver but I think you are doing yourself a disservice by pricing too high when you’re just starting...

especially if you have no freelancing experience and/or no portfolio samples – just like me.

Think about it from the client’s perspective – hiring me when I had no experience, no samples, no testimonials for $50/hr would be a very high risk for the client.

So lower the risk for your potential client.

And I’m not saying work for free – I don’t believe anybody should work for free (unless they want to or there’s tremendous learning opportunity or you’re getting something else out of it).

I’m just saying don’t charge premium rates when you’re getting started because you’ll price out some clients that you can learn a lot from or who have great networks that can get you fully booked out long-term.

When I first started freelancing, I would discount my rates for clients where I saw a lot of potential for growth for myself or learning opportunities. I would’ve scaled as fast as I did if I hadn’t kept my rates low and prioritized learning in my first phase.

🔍 Mistake #3: Not Being Client-Centric

This is one of the biggest shifts I had to make – because most of us go through life primarily thinking about ourselves, right?

But when you are thinking about landing clients, convincing people to work with you, or maintaining good relationships with clients as a freelancer, you have to also ask yourself:

  • “What’s in it for them?”
  • “What are they worried about?”
  • “What do they struggle with?”
  • “How can I help THEM?”
  • “What do they need?”
When you ask these types of client-centric questions at every stage of the freelance process – from client acquisition to discovery calls to working with the client – you’ll be lightyears ahead of other freelancers because you’re taking the time to get into the head, the heart and the feet of this client.

And the golden question that works wonders is: “How can I make this easier for this client?”

This question is magic. If you prioritize making things easier for your clients…. they will love you forever.

  • “How can I make it easier for them to work with me?”
  • “How can I make it easier for them to pay my invoice?”
  • “How can I make it easier for them to check their inbox?”
  • “How can I make their life and their business easier for them?”

OR even just asking your client: “How can I make your life easier today? What can I take off your plate?”

If you are wanting to level up your freelancing career and become a top-notch, sort-after freelancer then check out this free masterclass below on how I scaled my freelance career and had clients asking to work with me.

Want ALL the details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a DBM does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

🧐 Mistake #4: Confusing Or Lack of Communication

I normally see this happening one of two ways:

  1. Confusing communication – too much going on or vague communication. It leaves clients asking, “Wait, what do you actually do?”
  2. Lack of communication – this looks like lack of clarity, no communication, no clarity on your processes. It leaves clients thinking, “I have no clue what’s happening.”

Confused clients do not take action, and confused clients most certainly do not take out their wallets and buy anything.

Think of the last time you bought something you were totally confused by.

The last time you picked up a product at the supermarket and you were like ‘What is this? What does this do?’ and then bought it.

Never, right?

When we’re confused, we’re in a state of distress or overwhelm, and we don’t make good decisions when we’re distressed or overwhelmed.

Some examples of what I see from freelancers:

Mini-Mistake #1: Confusion Around What You Do As A Freelancer

You do too many things that aren’t related to one another.

You tell clients you do dog training, you do voiceovers, yoga training, graphic design and you also do inbox management.

I get that we all have different skills and sometimes they aren’t cohesive; that’s okay, but then separate your messaging so it’s targeted to the person you’re speaking to.

If you’re speaking to a business owner, share only what you can do for them and what’s relevant for them to hear.

And make sure you’re always tying your service or skill to what the client ultimately is after. They aren’t focused on the fact that you do copywriting or graphic design; they are focused on what that service will unlock for them in their business and life.

So focus on that in your communication.

Mini-Mistake #2: Confusion Around How A Client Should Take The Next Step With You

What is the step-by-step process of working with you?

Let’s say they find you on Instagram – what now? Should they email you? Should they book a call? Where do they find the link to contact you?

Create a logical, step-by-step client funnel that makes it easy for a potential client to take the next step.

Mini-Mistake #3: Confusion Around What Happens Once A Client Has Paid Their Invoice

Your onboarding system is very important.

If you’d like more tips on how to create a client onboarding workflow click the video below ↓

YouTube video

🔊 Mistake #5: Not Enough Applying

This is another big one.

We apply to two jobs, get no response or experience rejection and we call it a day.

We send one cold pitch email, get no response and that’s it.

That’s not enough volume of applying; that is not enough to then say something didn’t work.

I applied to hundreds of jobs as a freelancer – and I did not work with hundreds of clients.

No freelancer, no matter how incredible they are, has a 100% close rate.

That’s unrealistic to expect of ourselves because clients have a ton of factors at play on their end that we cannot control. We cannot control if they like us, we cannot control if our services are what they need at that very given time.

What we can control is how much we put ourselves out there, and how well we present ourselves and our services, ask for feedback every step of the way and apply the feedback where possible.

So get out there, and commit to doing it regularly for a few months.

I also believe freelancing has a compound effect as I experienced it for sure myself. It was way more effort to get started than to maintain it. So stick with it long enough to see the results.

👎 Mistake #6: Not Doing What Is Promised

This has to be said: sometimes, just doing what you promised you would do… is enough.

I have unfortunately worked with freelancers before that promised me the moon and the stars and delivered an old potato.

It’s not fair to do that to someone who trusted you enough to pay you.

Do what you say you’re going to do. And if you can, overdeliver a little. It will go a long way for your career as a freelancer.

There are a few components to this:

  • Set clear expectations.
  • ✅ Get clarity on what they expect and the standard your client expects it to be.
  • Buffer your timeline and manage your time properly.
  • ✅ Create a plan so you can do what you say you will do.
  • ✅ Overdeliver if you can; give your clients a little something extra and you’ll make your client very happy and much more willing to refer you or give a glowing testimonial.

🤝 Mistake #7: Not Developing Soft Skills

Soft skills, I would arguably say are more important than technical skillset as a freelancer. If your soft skills are not up to par, you’ll have a rough time becoming a successful freelancer.

The biggest one in my experience is communication. Lack of communication, lack of clarity, no updates, ghosting — all of these make for a poor quality freelancer.

Other important soft skills:

Problem-solving, empathy, taking initiative, detail orientation. Critically assess yourself on these soft skills and work on the ones that you think you may be lacking. It’ll make a world of difference for your freelancing career.

🧗‍♀️Mistake #8: Creating Fake Hurdles For Yourself

Finally and most importantly, fake hurdles.

In my humble opinion, as a beginner freelancer, your only goal, your only focus, and your only priority should be to get started and get going. And by get started and by get going, I mean get out there in front of clients and land clients.

A lot of times when I talk to people that want to freelance, I hear a lot of fake hurdles.

  • ❌ “I need a website before I can…”
  • ❌ “I need an aesthetic Instagram feed before I can…”

Mindset is important here; it’s almost like they’re talking themselves out of everything. And I get it because I used to do it, too.

The mind will make up one million-and-one excuses if you let it. It’s protecting yourself so you don’t hurt yourself when leaving your comfort zone.

But here’s the reality check: you will never feel ready to do something you have never done before. You will never know all the answers before you begin – but I know you will be able to figure it out as you go.

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, make your goals smaller.

Freelancing doesn’t have to be this quit-everything huge leap into the unknown.

It can be as simple as: today, I’m going to sit down for 15 minutes, go on Instagram and make a list of 3 potential clients that I will cold pitch with my services.

So what’s the very tiny first step you can take right now to continue or start on this freelance journey?

I’d love to hear from you over here in the comment of this video.

Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

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Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!