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5 Mistakes Every New Freelancer Makes (And How You Can Avoid Them)

A few weeks ago I held an AMA where I was answering questions for potential freelancers.

Things started off really well and I had some great conversations during the first hour or so…

But then outta nowhere, the “guru” parade decided to show up and started asking questions like:

In order for new freelancers to get clients, they have to have lower rates than everybody else — how low should they go?

Now words can’t even explain how bad I hate this question (well, thought process) because I think it’s the #1 reason why most people fail at freelancing…

And I’ll be honest, I went through this process myself.

Like most new freelancers, I read all about how you need to beat the competition with price if you can’t beat them with experience…

And the scary part is how it makes sense at the surface, but here’s the part nobody tells you — you’re shooting yourself in the foot by doing so.


Because good clients don’t hire cheap freelancers (as they know they’ll be burnt out), so low rates just means you’re attracting shitty clients (you know, the ones that hate their life and try to make you miserable as well)…

But on top of that, as humans, we automatically think higher prices = better quality of work.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should start charging $125/hr just to make your work look better, but I am saying that having a reasonable rate at first can make a big difference…

And it’ll differ between every industry, but I honestly don’t think any freelancer should ever charge less than $25/hr ($35/hr if you’re based outta an expensive country, like the U S of A).

How you can overcome this common mistake:

Don’t worry about getting clients with low rates, worry about getting clients with (ethical) influence. Everybody makes that topic so complicated, when in all reality, you just need to show the client how you can help them reach their goal…and that’s as complicated as it needs to get.

You need to “hustle” 24/7 to get your first clients

The next question that made me want to barf was the stereotypical Instagram post — “hustle”.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize how cute this sounds and how easy it is to get likes with these sleazy phrases…

But when you really think about it and try to understand the underlying message, you realize it’s dumb as hell.

Not only does this type of thinking induce burnout and make most people quit, but it also tells you to take the hardest option possible…

Which HAS NEVER made sense to me.

That’d be the equivalent to somebody using an old school map to reach their destination when they had a smartphone in their pocket, because what, it made them feel better?

I don’t know either, and that’s why I can’t stand this phrase/question.

How you can overcome this mistake:

Focus on your big domino, preferably one that puts time back in your day. Maybe that’s Facebook Advertising with automated funnels or maybe that’s leveraging freelance sites to cut down on the sales cycle, but whatever it is, just remember that time and energy are a “cost” too…

Something most of us forget.

You need to have years of experience before freelancing

There’s 2 types of people that say this:

And now that you know this, I hope you never listen to this type of advice again…

Because it’s terrible.

Nobody can tell me they don’t have any freelance skills as I know anybody can do web research, answer phone calls, or handle emails…

Don’t think it’s that easy? Jump on and check it out for yourself.

How to overcome this mistake:

I think the best route is by learning (or fine-tuning) a profitable skill that people will pay well for, but even if you don’t want to do that, just start with any type of “busy work”. You might not get paid the best right away, but I guarantee you’ll build the confidence to move forward.

You should avoid freelance websites

This one makes me LOL all over the place.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read articles from “experienced freelancers” who couldn’t land a job on these websites and therefore they think they’re the devil…

Which I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, because I do think they’re trying to honestly help…

But I also know they’re 100% wrong, because if my dumbass can jump on these sites and make $45/hr or more in 12 different roles — then it’s not really the website’s fault, it’s just that they don’t know what they’re doing.

Now if you don’t want to try these websites, that’s completely fine, do whatever floats your boat…

But I am saying that unless you have another viable option that allows you to get you clients right away, then your ego is killing your success.

How to overcome this common mistake:

Remember, a wrong approach is the only way you can fail on these websites — so you’re always in control.

You should work for free

Okay, this is a weird one as I do think there’s some cases where it makes sense…

But here’s the problem, most of the time — it’s straight up stupid.

What do I mean?

Well, if you’re given an opportunity to work under people like Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday or James Altucher for free in exchange for valuable experience…

Then hell yes, take that opportunity and cherish it.

On the other hand, if you’re given an opportunity to “intern” under somebody who has no money and is trying to get free labor by putting lipstick on a pig (telling you it’s valuable experience and it’ll build your portfolio)…

Then no, that’s a terrible approach.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that yeah, you never want to go to one extreme and decline all opportunities that don’t pay cash (even though they’ll give you dividends for years to come)…

But at the same time, you’re worth more than you think — so never give your services away just to build a portfolio (because you can do that on your own).

How to overcome this common mistake:

Only work for free if you’re going to gain invaluable experience and advice.

Sorry for getting fired up…

I just hate seeing potential freelancers ruin their dreams by listening to traditional advice, and I can assure you that gurus don’t always know what they’re talking about…

Because if they did, I’d still be working for free trying to build up a shitty writing portfolio.


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