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Mistakes. Everyone makes them. Especially when trying something new, like starting a business. Today I wanted to share five of the freelancing mistakes I’ve made since launching my freelance writing and virtual assistance career. I’m hoping you can learn through my mistakes, so you don’t have to make them!
I’m also sharing what I’ve learned from each mistake. Because we really should look at these as learning opportunities, instead of continuing in a direction that isn’t working.
Freelancing Mistakes: Not Saving Enough
I knew that I’d need money in my business account for my taxes each year. 25% was the recommended number, so I made sure that any money I made I immediately transferred that amount into my business account.
I thought everything was fine and dandy until December. When I realized that I’d been taking business expenses out of that 25%.
I wasn’t keeping enough of my income in the business account. As a result, I ended up spending a good portion of my tax savings on business expenses.
Thankfully, having a large family has some benefits, and not typically owing much on taxes is one of them. Thank you deductions! So I think it’ll work out for 2016.
But I’m planning on earning more in 2017. So I really need to do it right this year. Now I’m transferring 25% directly to savings, and another 10-15% directly to my business checking account.
So far my new method is adding up mathematically, but it’s something I plan on keeping a lot closer eye on this year!
Freelancing Mistakes: Not Pitching
If you don’t have business, you can’t grow. While I’m in a stage of my business where I don’t want to currently grow too much (this whole expecting a baby thing you know! :D), I’ve made this mistake frequently.
I’d take on a lot of assignments and then get so busy working on them that I’d forget to pitch. So once my work ran out, my income would slump. I was caught in a feast or famine cycle.
That’s never good.
So I’m learning how to better balance growth and stagnation. And let me tell you, you can’t just start pitching again a week before you need new work and call it good.
Most of my pitches that ended up with gigs took at least a month to hear back from. Some took six or more. Once I have a recurring gig lined up the pitching process is much smoother, but it all takes time.
So I’ve been throwing out some pitches here or there throughout my slow period. Just in case.
And I’ll be picking up the pitching game about a month before I’m ready to start growing again. Because it does take time.
Freelancing Mistakes: Trying to Do Too Much
If you don’t pitch, you end up in a slump. But, if you take on too much, it’s overwhelming.
I’ve definitely dealt with trying to do too much a couple of times during my freelancing career. And sometimes, it’s not just the business side of things that cause the plates to tip.
It’s everything else moms take care of like:
- Farm chores
- Meal planning and prep
- Spending time with the kids
With a list like that, it’s easy to see how quickly you can cross the line between okay and overwhelm.
And overwhelmed moms aren’t much fun to be around.
To help, I now make sure to:
- Better communicate my work tasks with my family
- Ask my husband to tackle specific farm and home chores
- Simplify meals
- Increase independence in learning
- Implement family writing time
- Have the kids do more around the house and farm
- Spread out my deadlines so they come throughout the week instead of all on one day
Basically, I realized that I don’t have to do everything. I was blessed with a family, and we need to work as a family. After all, my kids are going to grow up and have their own house someday.
They really need to be prepared with the skills they need to keep it up and a good work ethic.
So I ask for help more frequently now. I try not to wait until I’m so overwhelmed that I feel like bawling. No one can read my mind and see what I’m thinking.
It works better for everyone!
Freelancing Mistakes: Procrastinating
I tend to procrastinate. I always have.
But, when you look up and suddenly realize that you have five posts due in the next 48 hours, you start to regret procrastinating.
Now, I try to work on an assignment everyday. Even if it’s not due for a week or more.
This has allowed me to get ahead. Which is wonderful with a baby on the way.
I don’t know exactly when baby will be born, but I do know that I’m not going to be buried in deadlines when that day arrives. That’s a freeing feeling!
So don’t put off for tomorrow what you could get started on or finished with today. It really is a good lesson. You may even realize you can get in an extra assignment or two if you don’t let them stack up.
Freelancing Mistakes: Not Thinking of Myself as a Client
Part of my business strategy is to build my own brands. I have three websites, and they each need content created regularly.
I also have my Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course, a Teaching Reading Through Play homeschool curriculum I’m trying to get on the market, and an ebook in the works.
That’s a lot of writing I need to do for me.
But, I’ve spent a lot of time putting my own work last. I didn’t think of myself as a client.
Which isn’t good since I want to diversify my income streams.
So I’ve started making sure I get my tasks done too. I have my three weekly blog posts on my schedule. I take time to work on those bigger projects.
Even if I take bite-sized chunks out of them, those little steps definitely add up over time!
Ever Make These Mistakes?
Or were there others that you found yourself making? I’d love for you to share in the comments so we can learn from each other and improve!