The 5 Worst Mistakes Freelancers Make and How to Fix Them

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.

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I’ve talked to a lot of freelancers over the years. After a while, a few common issues started to pop up.

It turns out a lot of us are struggling with the exact same issues but no one is talking about it with one another!

That’s the topic of this week’s episode on the Self-Made Web Designer podcast. I talk about 5 common mistakes that freelancers make and ways to avoid them.

Honestly, freelancing in web design is one of the best opportunities out there right now. But, that doesn’t mean it comes easily.

In fact, most freelancers you talk to will have stories of barely making it but figuring out a way and then finally turning things around.

So, if you’re struggling today, I want to encourage you, you’re not alone. Don’t give up. Your breakthrough could be just around the corner.

You’ll Learn

  • How to keep yourself from overpromising
  • Surefire ways to know that you can deliver more than what your client wants without having to kill yourself in the process
  • How to avoid clients that aren’t worth any amount of money
  • How to know what to charge for your freelance web design services
  • Good project management practices for your web design business
  • How to have clients that love you and can’t help but tell their friends about you
  • How to use data to know the perfect price to charge your freelance clients
  • How to use gratitude to love freelancing more


Hello, and welcome to the self made web designer podcast. My name is Chris, I am your host. I am so excited that you are here. Hey, if you've been listening for a while or if you liked the episode today, can you go ahead and leave me a comment? leave some feedback. It goes a long way. And I sure would appreciate it. today. We are talking about the five mistakes that new freelancers are susceptible to make when they're just getting started. Are you ready? Here we go.

Freelancing like any other skill is something that takes time to learn. I don't want to discourage you any. But listen, when you first get started, you're not gonna be any good. And you kind of need to just accept that fact. And for some of you, this is actually freeing Because you're worried that you're not going to be good enough and to hear me say, hey, it's okay, because you're not, don't expect it from yourself. It actually took some weight off of your shoulders, because now you've given yourself permission to learn, right? You've given yourself permission to make mistakes, to adjust. And to get better as time goes on. The first few projects that I took on, they were a huge mess, right? Like they needed a lot of work. And I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I just thought maybe I can figure this out as I go.

But, after every project, it got a little bit better. I would learn from the last one, I would make some adjustments. I would do things that would change the system with which I did things my workflow, right, I would do different things and how I communicated to clients or the prices that I charged or the way that I asked for money. So So don't be discouraged if you find yourself making a lot of mistakes at the very beginning. Or even if you've been doing this for a long time, and you find yourself making mistakes, this is all part of the journey. It's how you grow. And it's how you get better. But here are five things that I have seen are the most common mistakes that freelancers make, when they first get started. Number one, over promising what you promise to a client to get done, sets the baseline for what is going to be the expectation, and we all kind of know that but when we're first getting started in we're trying to sell a client on hiring us for a certain service, we get a little bit excited, right? And so we almost begin to offer them the world when really, we can't even give them a portion of our driveway. Okay, right. So so make sure that you actually under promise and over deliver. And this is something that I had to learn when I first got started, I would say things Great, I'll have this done in a couple of weeks, sure enough, two weeks would come by and I wasn't anywhere near to being finished. The best thing to do here is to actually evaluate what you know will be incredibly easy to finish, and then chop that in half. Because we we end up getting overzealous when we're talking about a project to a potential client, we start thinking with without any limitations, we take out all the risk factors, we take out all the things that are naturally going to happen in life that you didn't plan for at all. And what ends up happening is what you thought was going to be really easy to do, now becomes really difficult because life happened. So a rule of thumb is, if you think it's going to take you a month, tell them that it's going to take you two or if you are 100% sure that you know how to code a certain feature or if you think for sure, you can get the website to do some certain functionality that you never tried before. Don't say that you're a pro and professional at that. Like, tell them be honest with them. I'm not sure that I can do this. But I understand what you want. And I'm willing to be diligent about making sure I learn. And if I can't get there, I will let you know, in the midst of the project. Now, a lot of you right now are probably thinking, but won't they choose to not hire me if I tell them those things? Here's the thing. I've always been honest about my abilities as a freelance web designer with my clients from the very beginning. And sometimes that actually does turn out in losing a job and not getting a project. But I would say 85% of the time, the client says yes, and they're willing to work with me because they understand that I'm actually really passionate about making sure that they are satisfied with the work that I do, and they're okay that I have limitations. Good clients are going to understand that you have limitations. I'm gonna say that again, because I feel like somebody needs to hear that up in This church this morning, okay, amen. Good clients are going to understand that you have limitations. If you have a client that is expecting the world from you prepare for it to be a nightmare situation, that's not worth the money, no matter how badly you need it. Like, think about what you would require from somebody that you pay to do a job, they're gonna come to you and say, Yes, I can do it for this much money. Here's the things that I can do. And here's the things that I can't do. Right. And then we make the decision from that point, are the things that they can't do going to disqualify them from being a good person to work for me, or am I okay with saying yes, because the things that they can do, overshadow the things that they can't and a great way. So be sure that when you're first getting started, the very first conversation that you have with the client takes away You think is reasonable, and then cut it in half and tell them that is the expectation. If they're not okay with that you have to be willing to let them go. And to look for somebody. That is, it's worse to say yes to a client that you're not really sure you can give them what they need. Just because you need the money or just because you need the project than it is to play it safe. And to make sure that, you know, you can deliver what your client needs within their timeframes. And why is that it's because bad feedback from them will ruin your freelance business. If you want to make it. You've got to have clients that absolutely love you that think this person is the best, whatever that is out there. The best web designer in my case for you, it might be web developer, graphic designer, whatever it is, it doesn't matter. You want them to think the world of you because when they do, they're going to tell other people about you. And then you're going to get more business. And then you're going to do the same thing. For those people that you got the business for, then they're gonna tell those people about you. And all of a sudden you've got exponential growth. But it starts with making sure that you are under promising and over delivering number two undercharging. This is a big one and one that a lot of freelancers struggle with. And the reason is, is because they're afraid if they start to charge what they're actually worth, they're going to lose business. And from my experience, that has not been the case. And this was a hurdle that I had to jump over. When I was first getting started as a freelancer. When I first got started, I made my hourly rate $20 per hour. And then after every project, I would go up five or $10 an hour. I remember when I got to $50 an hour as a freelance web designer, and I had to go in and change my rates to 60 I almost had a panic attack making that decision, because I thought oh, man Who is going to hire me at $60 an hour. But guess what I've gone on to go over and above that I'm now at $150 an hour, because I know the value that I offer is worth the money that I'm asking for. So you have to know what you're worth. And I'm assuming I'm guessing that if you're like the majority of the people out there who are freelancing as web designers today, you're asking for a lot less than what you're actually worth. If you're a freelancer, just getting started today, or maybe you've been doing this for a long time, here's what I want you to do right now. I want you to go wherever it is that you're selling your services, and I want you to up your rates by 30%. And hey, I know that what I'm telling you to do is scary. But here's the deal. What's gonna happen is people are going to keep saying yes to you, and you're going to be doing the same amount of work for a higher price. All because If you are under estimating how much value you actually add to the people that you are serving, so 30% so if you charged $50 an hour, you're gonna go in and charge $65 an hour, right? If you charge $1,000 for a website, you're going to go in and you're going to now charge 1300. And then after every project, you're going to go up another 30%. Eventually, you're going to come to this place that people stop saying, Yes, and that's your limit to how high you know you can go at this season of your freelance web design career. And I'm not just talking about one or two noes here and there because those happen to everybody. If everyone is saying yes to you, then you need to go up and charge more than 50% more than what you have been charging. Because you are charging way too little for the services that you're offering. There's a really simple equation. And it's like a little line graph, if you want to think about it that way, the more that you go up in your price, the more people are going to be less willing to say yes to you, and the higher and higher you go, eventually you get to a zero percentage of people saying yes to you that you pitch to do a website or a freelance project for at that point, you know, you've gone too far. You've got to ask yourself, what percentage Am I comfortable with? You might not be getting as many jobs at a higher rate. But hey, guess what, you don't actually need as many jobs at that higher rate than when you are charging less. So you've got to figure out what's the percentage line? Is it 20% of the people that I'm pitching to are saying yes to me, is it 10 is it five, whatever it is, at that price point. That's the golden price for you as a freelance web designer, and it's gonna be a lot of different things for a lot of different people. But it takes experiment. It takes trying things out and it Takes not being afraid to hear the word. No, you've got to be okay. With hearing No, as a freelancer, it's actually really healthy. And look at it not as a rejection as some emotional thing that people are saying you're no good. No, this is completely business. This is just a technical component of your freelance business, right? You're looking at that no as data input. The data is telling me, I'm charging too little. That's when everyone is saying yes to you. If everyone's saying no to you, then the data is telling you, you're charging too high. I remember when I first got started, I got all the way up to $75 an hour, and I started going up to 80. And it was at that point that I got nobody saying yes to me. Nobody was even asking me right. I was on Upwork. And people had been sending me invitations to interview consistently for the past few months. And then I went up to 80. And nobody was sending invitations. Nobody was asking need to work on their projects and the people that were when I told them that I was $80 an hour. They were saying Thanks, but no thanks.

So I knew I had to reach that place. But it only came from me trying it out and being willing to be rejected so that I could figure out what my golden price point was for the things that I was offering to my clients. So don't undervalue yourself, do some research and figure out what it is that the market actually demands from you and how much you can demand from the market by the price that you are asking for people to pay. Number three, poor project management, this is a big one for me because I am pretty bad at this if I'm going to be honest with you. If you're familiar with Clifton Strength Finders, I did the tests and I paid for all 50 strengths, the bottom strength, like the thing that I am weakest in his organization, this is something that I have had to press through tears and through pain and figure out how can I manage the projects that I have with my clients to make sure that things are getting done on time that I'm communicating clearly, that timelines are realistic and not so far out there that everybody's frustrated, including myself, right? It's something that has taken a lot of work. But it is something that is so important.

And the only way for you to figure out how to dial in project management is to go in with a strategy. And with a plan. The sense that I get from a lot of people who are just getting started is that they hear Yes, from a client, and then they just start building a website, right? They go to town, they set up WordPress, they find a theme or they start coding or whatever it is that they're doing, and they don't think about, okay, let's wait a second. Let's figure out what are the steps for me to be successful in this. Let's plan those out. Let's put some calendar dates on them. Let's let's set up some emails that I'm going to be sending out to clients to let them know where my progress is. Those are all super important parts of what makes you a good freelancer. It's not just about how good the product is, if you make an amazing website for someone, but you didn't communicate well, or the client got frustrated with you, or something happened along the way that the project exploded, and it could have been easily avoidable. You're gonna have an unhappy client that is not just not referring you, they're actually saying bad things about you and hurting your business. So you have to make sure that you go in with a game plan number four, wanting things to happen too quickly, and this is a big one. I see a lot of people who get really frustrated because within the first six months, seven months, eight months a year, they're not seeing the kind of results that they have seen. Other people talk about, and can I get real with you for a second, a good freelance career, a good freelance business is going to take time. In fact, it's going to take a lot longer than you probably were anticipating for it to take. And that's actually a good thing. Because if you got a really big job, when you first got started, it could crush your freelance career, you might do a lot of make a lot of mistakes, do something that could essentially really harm the client's business or the project that they were working on. And then from that point on, nobody hires you because you've got a bad name and potentially even some lawsuits that you're trying to figure out how to work through. So you need to start off slow. Someone that I follow and have looked at as a mentor is a guy named Brad Hussey. If you don't follow Him, if you don't know who he is, I encourage you to do a little bit of Google He's got some great courses on Udemy. And he has his own website where he actually coaches people in freelancing as well. And he's been a really successful freelancer, a really successful educator. And something that he encourages people to do is to look at their freelance business, like barbecue, barbecue when it's cooked quickly.

Okay, fast, put it in the microwave and nuke it. It tastes horrible. But when it's cooked slowly, you know, I think people call it low and slow, right? They put it in, and they are working on it all day, six hours before they even take it out and test it to see if it tastes any good. And they put it back in for another six hours because they're crazy, right? low and slow. Good. freelancing takes time for you to develop. So don't get discouraged when you're not seeing the kind of results that you had hoped to see. And then just quit and I see a lot of people do this. They come They say I've tried everything, which honestly, they haven't. And I've been doing this forever, which has been maybe three months. And I can't do it anymore because freelancing doesn't work. And it's a race to the bottom and nobody's getting paid good money. And yet I know, personally of people who are killing it personally who have been on this podcast, and myself, who have figured out a way to take things slowly, to be methodical and to know that Rome wasn't built in a day. Good things don't happen overnight. Most of the time. A good friend of mine who I've been on his podcast, he's been on mine His name is Anthony grown says that when you beat the odds, you start thinking certain things about yourself that probably aren't true. And what that means is somewhere along the way, you might have found yourself doing way better than you should have at a certain thing in life. And you just started assuming that this was going to be the way that the rest of your life was you're just going to crush things. It's not going to be difficult, you're going to go into it, and you're going to be a superstar right from the get-go. But that's just not how it works. It takes time, you've got to build a relationship, you've got to slowly bring your prices up, you've got to slowly learn how to manage your projects.

You got to slowly learn how to figure out what it is that you can do, and that you can't do, right? You've got to do all of those things. And they don't happen overnight. So don't get discouraged. If you're not finding quick success. Be patient and stick with it. If you don't quit, you win. Number five, the last one, the biggest mistake that I see freelancers do when they're just getting started is they forget to have fun and and listen, I this stuff is work. And and there are times when it can be difficult and you're pulling your hair out and you're trying to figure out what a client is actually asking you and you're trying to figure out how to stop doing 100 revisions per project because it's, it's eating into your dollar amount per hour, and it's actually not even worse than anymore, like I get all of that stuff. But at the end of the day, if you are not having fun, you are looking at this wrong, freelancing should be fun. And if it's not, you need to step back and you need to ask yourself, does my perspective needs to change? Or do I need to change some things that I'm doing? Right? It could be that you need to change the clients that you're saying yes to? It could be that you need to freelance and something completely different than what you've been trying. If you've been doing graphic design for a long time and you find it unfulfilling. Let's try some web design. If you've been doing web design, and you want to get a little bit more specific, try UX design.

Or if you want to go into more of the web development world, let's try some front end project. Let's make some web apps and react. Let's do some different things. But if you're not having fun, you're not going to laugh. Very long, right? Especially if this is a side hustle thing, it's going to be extremely discouraging. And you're not going to last very long. You can even learn how to enjoy this stuff. That's actually pretty boring. And I know you some of you guys are listening right now. And you're thinking, yeah, that's not true. And I'm done with this podcast. But listen, give me a second. Okay. Don't judge me that quickly. It's all about how you look at it, right? If you think to yourself, this is a boring, mundane piece of the thing that I'm doing, then yes, it will be that way. But if you see the value in it, and you look at it from a big picture perspective, if you see that it's actually developing patience in you, if you see that it's actually refining you as a freelancer, right? You start to look at those little small mundane things a little bit better, and you have a little bit more fun, because there's absolutely nothing that Do as a freelancer that's insignificant.

Just like in life, there's nothing that you do. taking out the trash can be a significant thing, even though it sucks, and it smells bad, and I just had a baby. And it's full of dirty diapers. And it probably smells worse than 90% of the people out there listening to this podcast. But listen, you can enjoy it because why you think about the different things that you get to do along the way, you start thinking about the fact that I'm gonna go outside for a second, I'm gonna take this trash out and put it into the trash bin. I'm gonna say hi to my neighbors. I'm gonna get to see the sun for a little bit. I'm going to see and look at our house that we've that we've bought, and I love and I and I appreciate the fact that we even have this thing, right? It went from being a I hate taking out the trash to this is actually a cool opportunity that gives me perspective. So do the same thing when it comes to your freelancing. Think about it in the regard of how cool is it that you're getting to do freelance work, that when people were trying to find work to do on the side 20 years ago, they didn't have The opportunities that we have, they weren't able to do the things that we are doing right now. They didn't have access to people who were in different time zones, or who were on a different continent, looking for different people to do different things, right? This is the coolest time to be a freelancer in the history of the worlds, right. And that's an exciting thing. And it's something we should appreciate. It's something we should have gratitude for. And it's something that we should enjoy. But the moment you lose your gratitude for what you're doing is the moment that you start to hate freelancing. So take a second, fix your perspective, and learn how to find joy in the midst of the mundane. And listen, I'm not a Marie Kondo does it spark joy in your life, like, that's not me, this is not that conversation. This is just real talk about how all of us should probably be a lot more grateful than we already are about the opportunities that we get to do in life. Even if you're just getting started and you haven't seen a dime, think about how fun it is to figure something out. It's the thrill of the chase. It's the competition with yourself. Can I do this thing, right? That's better than any movie that you could watch on the weekend, right? Because it's your life, and it's real. So don't take those things for granted. Learn to have fun. Don't take yourself so seriously. And bottom line, just keep going. I say this almost every single episode. If you don't quit, you will say that with me say it to yourself, put it on your mirror inside your bathroom, if you don't quit you when you have got this.

And it starts with taking a look at the things that you're doing as a freelancer and evaluating it right. Are you overpromising your clients? Are you telling them that you can do more than you actually can and then at the end of the day, you have an unhappy client who tell Other people about the poor job that you did? Are you not charging what you should be charging yourself? Should you go in right now and double your rates? I did that a while ago with my rates and guess what? Business didn't slow down, it actually sped up? Are you doing good with project management? Are you thinking about the things that you're doing? When it comes to each project that you say yes to? Are you making timelines? Are you writing out a strategy? Are you making sure that your clients know exactly what your plans are and making adjustments along the way as you go? Are you hoping for too much big success too soon? And listen, like I'm one who would encourage you shoot for the stars, and be super ambitious. It could happen that within six months of you getting started, you're making $50,000. That's amazing. And that's awesome. But when that becomes an expectation, and you fail, you get discouraged and you quit. So are you expecting too much in too little of time? And finally, are you Learning to have fun and just enjoy the process. Are you learning to enjoy the journey? These are all things that are super important for you to learn as a freelance web designer when you are just getting started. So if that's you, I want to encourage you to keep going.

Hey, if this has been helpful for you, would you take a second and leave me some feedback? I'd love to know what you're thinking and all the different things that I could be doing to help you find success. And being a Self-Made Web Designer. Stay tuned next week when our next episode comes out. It's going to be fantastic. I don't even know what it is yet. But know that it's gonna be fantastic. We will see you then.

The 5 Worst Mistakes Freelance Web Designers Make and How to Avoid Them || a paper with a sticker on it that says Mistake


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

Every week, I write an article and release a podcast episode. Sign up if you want to get notified when that happens.



  1. Prince Edema says:

    This was really helpful, I totally needed it.

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