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5 Ways to not Make it as a Freelancer

I’ve been freelancing for about a year now, and while I’ve made a considerable amount of success, it has been an enormous learning process for me.

I started freelancing on Upwork, and I took any job I could lay my hands on — No matter the price — I was just excited about getting paid to write. As time passed and I started to gain more experience, I began to notice some patterns. When I see them, I keep them in mind to not make the same mistake again.

With the crisis, people are out of jobs and are now learning skills and becoming freelancers — so, it’s only right to give out my little knowledge of what I’ve noticed.

The times I broke these rules, I struggled — a lot. So, just see this post as a guide.

Overbooking Yourself

Freelancing is all about feast or famine. Some weeks you’re filled to the neck with projects while some other times, you can hardly get a gig.

When you know things like these happen, you might want to take every job you can get.

This exact thing happened to me weeks back. I kept taking on new projects and doing all I could to handle every Job I was getting until I started missing deadlines and turning in below-par results. Some times I would look at the articles I did for a client and be ashamed of even reading it.

There’s no doubt how being overbooked is every freelancer’s dream, but if you’re going to compromise quality and your free time, you shouldn’t take on as much.

Unless you have people to outsource to — which clients hate, you should just handle what you can.

Tip: When you’re overbooked, that’s the perfect opportunity to increase your rates.

Working with High-Stress Clients

You know those clients that want the whole world with a $20 budget, right?

Clients come in two pairs, the angels and the demons.

It’s like some were sent from hell to frustrate the life out of you. They come with unclear needs and demand for thousands of revisions.

If you keep tolerating these kinds of clients, you’re going to lose it soon. Those clients are like a toxic relationship that would want to monopolize your time with their endless revisions and low rates.

If you keep staying with these high-stress — Low pay clients, you will start to hate your career.

Working for Family and Friends

Many people may not agree with this one, but there’s so much truth in: “keep family and business separate.”

When you start your freelance career, people (family and friends) will start to come to you for collaborations AKA free job.

It can be a little bit difficult to tell them you can’t do it for free because you guys are family. But I’m telling you, if you keep that up, you would not see the end of the free jobs.

In other cases, talking about pay may even bring bad blood between both of you. So, you have to be extra careful about it. You shouldn’t entirely blow them off — If you have the time to do it — go ahead. But when it starts becoming more than usual and starts taking time away from actual paid work, pull the plug.

Poor Customer Service

Every freelancer is a business. And to keep your clients happy, you have to treat them right.

Without your clients, you don’t have a business. Your clients make up your business. That means you have to do all it takes to ensure that you’re giving your clients the best treatment possible.

When they give you directions, listen. When they want revisions, do it quickly. During holidays or special dates, send them messages that show that you care. Make them see you as a friend, rather than a regular freelancer that’s strictly business.

Because whether you like it or not, there’s always going to be somebody that can do the job better than you, with more experience and better pricing. But what would make them stay, is the relationship you both, have built. Nobody likes to let their friends down, so they wouldn’t want to let you down.


Nothing slaps harder than plagiarism. These days, before a client accepts your work, the first thing they do is a plagiarism check.

Now, imagine how you would feel in their shoes after paying $300 for an article, just to see that the freelancer just did a copy and paste, hoping that you would not notice. Would you even work with that person again?

These things kill your career as a freelancer. Once you start losing clients one by one, you would have to keep struggling to find new clients instead of keeping the old ones you have.

Final Notes: Start from day one to treat your freelance career as a business

Thank you for reading

5 Ways to not Make it as a Freelancer was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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