If you want to go somewhere you’ve never been to, it is always better to reach out to the those who’ve been there before.

…And even if you have what it takes to become a freelancer, there’s one thing that is guaranteed. You’ll make mistakes!

As Einstein said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”.

You can, however, minimise the number of mistakes in your freelance career by learning from the mistakes of others. And avoiding them in the best way possible.

Here are the common mistakes that freelancers make and how you can avoid them.

1. Dishonesty

Over the past years, I have come across some dishonest freelancers.

They’re just experts at this habit and never follow through with their words -especially when it comes to delivery time. For some, it is being dishonest about what they can or cannot do.

If you cannot meet up with the deadline of a project, let your client know and give valid reasons to why you won’t be able to.

If you cannot perform a certain task in the contract, let your client know!

Some clients can be understanding and I’m talking from both sides of the coin here –being a freelancer and hiring freelancers.

One advantage/disadvantage of working on freelance websites is that your clients have the chance to leave a review. And, believe me, the way you treat them is exactly what they’ll state in your review.

Thus, be honest in your dealings. And if you’ve been dishonest in the past, desist from it henceforth.

If you have no experience working on a contract that a come-back client appoints, you can tell the client to give you the chance to work on it. If it is not up to expectation, you can give a refund but request an honest one-on-one review.

2. Not Paying Attention to Details

When I began freelancing, this was one mistake take really cost me. I was sometimes hasty but not all the times though.

This occurred especially when a job detail was as long as the job itself. I would just find important keywords and begin work.

I was lucky and got away with this bad habit until eventually, I worked with a client for many months and he discovered there were some jobs I didn’t pay attention to the smallest of details.

Gosh!! I’d have to rework on the job again and, this, I didn’t like.

This particular client loved my talent so he didn’t want to literally fire me…LOL

He’d complain for a very long time and, to be honest, I despised such long hour complaint. It made me feel sick.

So, I decided I’d be more conscious now and in the future.

As a freelancer, it is really important you pay attention to job description because some clients don’t use a chill pill.

One mistake…


You lose the contract, the client, the opportunity to boost your portfolio with a sweet review and waste your precious time (which can never be gotten back).

Take your time to read every job description over and over. If you don’t understand anything, ask your client about it and follow the description.

Remember, the goal is to deliver a satisfactory job…

…so do that.

3. Lack of Effective Communication

Communication is very important in freelancing. It is essential that you build a strong rapport with your clients.

This strengthens your relationships, prove that you are concerned about them and rendering excellent service.

When a client contacts you, respond as soon as possible –clients love responsive freelancers. Call them or send mail regularly.

If you do not completely comprehend a certain job description, ask as many questions as you can for clarity. Make sure you listen to them attentively also. It will make you learn more about the project and eventually make your client happy.

Follow up frequently and greet them during their festive periods.

4. Not Drafting a Contract Before Starting a Project

It is better that you draft paperwork before you start a job. And get both parties to sign an agreement regardless of how small or big, short-term or long-term a project is.

This will indicate your payment terms, project duration, number of allowed modifications, and so on clearly.

Some clients can be unbelievable in the sense that act according to their words. They’ll tell you something yesterday and come today with a contradicting statement.

To avoid an unnecessary argument, keep good records and stay organised, do paperwork before you begin to work on a client’s job.

Any client that refuses to sign the paperwork about what you’ve been agreed to isn’t your right client.

5. Inability to Charge Clients Correctly (Undercharging or Overcharging)

This is often challenging if you just started freelancing.

You may charge a high price that’ll make you lose gigs. On the other hand, you may charge too little, which can cause burn out in the process and little to no profit.

But then, don’t fall into the trap of most clients’ “the budget for this project is…” or “we have a little budget for this contract”.

You are a service provider like every accountant, electrician, financial auditor, and lawyer out there. I’m sure you don’t tell them the price for the services they render for you. They name their price and so should you.

Don’t undercharge because you are new in the market.

Don’t overcharge because you’ve been around for a long time.

Do diligent research about your industry and ascertain what other freelancers like you are charging. Know the average hourly rate that’ll be enough to render a top-notch service and still earn make you profit.

6. Working for Free

This is your business, don’t take it for granted.

You may decide to render your service and receive another form of compensation, which is not monetary. Remember, do not work for free because this may appear as selling yourself short.

And others may begin to take you for granted by requesting for free jobs or services.

7. Having a Small Client Base

This one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Some freelancers do this but you should avoid it at all cost.

Having a few clients that pay you enough to take care of this month’s expenses doesn’t mean you should not find other clients.

This is because they can decide to stop doing business with you at any time. In the end, it’ll leave you stranded to no stream of income.

Hence, apply for as many jobs as you can in your field of specialisation, and get more clients. If you eventually have more than enough contracts than you can handle, hire other freelancers and delegate adequately.

This is up to you to take care of –no one else will.

8. Neglecting Study and Getting Better

The world is evolving rapidly and I bet you don’t want to be left out.

Self-driving trucks are already in the way to making the truck driving job go extinct. And this kind of development happens in every sector.

Consumers are seeking better services and products, agencies are trying their very best to gain a larger market share than their competitors and this can only be done by providing better products and services.

So, are you learning more about your industry or neglecting the transformation? Are you developing yourself and growing? Are you studying the market to know what is in demand? Are you searching for better ways to do more within a lesser period? Are you developing your skills regularly?

These are the questions you should ask yourself and work on every good day so that you’ll remain relevant and render needed services in the market.

9. Laziness

One of the amazing benefits of being a freelancer is the fact that you get to plan your workdays, without having to worry about office deadlines, a boss nagging or working when you don’t feel like.

Nonetheless, the freedom to choose what to do when you want, especially when you just started your freelance career, can lead to distraction.  

Before you realize, low productivity creeps in, passiveness joins and you just feel less motivated to work on projects.

You then begin you miss job deadlines, disappoint clients, and lower your chances of getting more work in the future.

So, draw out a clear schedule, follow it strictly and stay motivated.

10. Not Having a Life

Being a freelancer can be challenging. It’s not the usual 9 to 5 job wherein you have stipulated time to work and time to have fun, hang out, travel or spend with family.

Freelancing gives you the opportunity to work whenever and wherever you want -especially if you’re an online freelancer. Most freelancer, however, often get caught in the race of trying to do more, earn more and have more. Thus, neglecting to spend quality time outside work.

Get your life-work balance. Develop a suitable schedule that will indicate when you are going to work, eat, exercise, spend time with family, travel and all the rest of it.

So, do not get stuck in the race. Design the race yourself because you’re your own boss.

Make Money As a Freelance Writer in Nigeria

By Abdullah Ajibose

Abdullah is the Team Lead at NaijaHustler.com.ng and Editor-in-Chief (If you find an error in any content, please spank him). He is a copywriter who currently prefers to proofread and edit other people's content and a student at the University near Lagos Lagoon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *