Key Reasons Why Freelancers Fail and How To Avoid The Same Fate


As more workers choose to reject the idea of finding a new job which will likely be just as unstable as the last few, many of these people will end up as freelancers. Along with this truth, it’s also true that quite a few will not avoid the pitfalls along the way, lose much of their own money, and fail.

In order to help avoid this fate, we have written up the 10 key reasons we find that freelancers fail in their new profession, along with some carefully considered tips for how to avoid the same outcome.

Key Reasons for Freelancing Failure

Key Reasons Why Freelancers Fail and How To Avoid The Same Fate

Quite often having the wrong mindset from the outset can set you up for early failure.

Experienced business people can spot a newbie a mile away and will often take advantage of that by asking for huge discounts, insisting on changes that shouldn’t be expected at the price they paid, and passing costs on to the unsuspecting freelancer that shouldn’t be their responsibility.

Many a freelancer gets trampled early on and financially never recovers while their income is too low to take the hit. So getting your mindset right is crucial in order to avoid many of the pitfalls and to succeed as a freelancer.

Not Believing In Yourself. This one shows in many ways including the prices that you charge, by your eagerness to drop your prices far too quickly and by too much. If you don’t believe in yourself, often prospective clients will doubt your ability to get the task completed and follow through. They don’t believe if you don’t believe.

Success Is Not For Me. If you believe that you’re always the unlucky one, then unlucky things will more often than not befall you. As Henry Ford said, “If a man tells me that he can, I believe him. If a man tells me he cannot, I believe him.”

Not Seeing Opportunities. When you meet a successful freelancer, rather than being jealous or thinking negatively about the person as if they are doing something wrong, why not ask them how they are doing so well? Try to learn from success rather than seeing it in a negative light.

Thinking That Money Is Bad. People often have a negative association with money believing it is inherently bad or evil. In reality, coveting money above all else is bad. Gluttony is bad. Money itself is just a tool to use in your life. It is a store of value. It is not inherently good or bad. If you keep thinking that money is bad and rich people are bad, then you’ll likely push financial opportunities away when they arise.

Believing You Don’t Offer Value. Someone who provides a valuable service deserves to be paid a fair rate for that. If the service is not valuable, the client will not pay. If the product quality is low, the purchaser may often request a refund. When offering freelance services, it’s important to know what you offer, be clear that it is valuable in its own right, and to believe in its value when you offer it to clients.

All or Nothing Thinking. Freelancing still requires a balance between work and home life. If your relationships with friends or family suffer because there is too much time or focus being put into your freelancing business, then something has to change. Otherwise, eventually you’re just burn out and your business will suffer.

A life out of balance will tip over at some point, so it is better to keep life in balance with reasonable time allocated to different areas in life. If it does become necessary to allocate increased blocks of time to a particular project, then make the people closest to you aware of the project and that you will have more time for them after this project is completed.

Not Having Something To Look Forward To. Without a boss looking over your shoulder, sometimes it is difficult to be self-motivated. For this reason, it is a good idea to set short-term goals for your business, some of which can translate into your personal life too. This helps to push you along.

For instance, perhaps you have set your mind on buying a new HDTV system which requires a certain increased level of business income in order to increase your personal salary to cover the cost of the purchase. This can provide the added incentive needed to find greater sales success and the drive needed to succeed.

Playing The Blame Game. It’s easy to go through life blaming others for all your own faults. In Asia, not losing face is more important than anything else. This causes people to lie and blame others when anything goes wrong. This in turn creates a lack of accountability for anyone’s actions.

In business, it’s important to keep a level head, focus on specifics, be accountable, and take the lead in generating results. If you blame everyone else and don’t focus on what is required to succeed, you’ll never move through problems. In many instances, who’s fault something is happens to be less important than getting the job done right.

Not Having a Backup Plan. Freelancers rarely plan for eventualities that could derail their business. What if your internet connection went down for two weeks? Do you have a secondary cellular connection to get back online? What if your laptop was stolen? Do you have the funds to replace it quickly? What if the hard drive with all your client files failed? Do you have the files backed up? Consider what could happen and plan accordingly to protect your business from unexpected failure.

Failing To Add To Your Skills. Succeeding in freelancing means continually adding to your skill-set. With programmers, add new languages. With writers, learn to write press releases if you don’t know already. With graphic designers, learn to create infographics that will have an impact. There is always something you should be learning to advance yourself and possibly increase the range of services you can offer. Don’t become complacent or the market you’re in will move beyond your service offering.

Avoiding Failure

Reasons Why Freelancers Fail and How To Avoid The Same Fate
Don’t Offer Services You’re Not Qualified To Offer. This means, not saying you’re a graphic designer when you cannot design a logo. Not suggesting that you’re a native speaking freelance writer if you’re really not (including using a Western-sounding name when you’re really not Western at all). Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot offer as a professional service. Be honest with prospective clients too, be confident, but don’t over-sell your abilities. It’ll only come back to bite you later on.

Never Stop Marketing. Don’t be shy about marketing yourself. Discover where people and company staff that buy your kind of service hang out online and meet them there. Don’t waste time with people who don’t have the money to pay. Don’t waste time searching for new clients in the wrong places. Social media has enabled so many freelancers and small businesses the ability to cost-effectively target and market to the right people. Take advantage of it.

Improve Your Customer Service. Clients want to be treated a certain way. Be professional and courteous. Be responsive to email requests. Learn to get along with many different kinds of people so that you can be their service provider for the long haul.

Make Sure Every Client Pays. There will be some deadbeat clients who will not pay their bills. Don’t let them get away with that. Chase down the debt, go public on their social media channel if they haven’t paid after a month or more, and don’t extend them any more credit. If at all possible, get paid upfront by all new clients using small milestones, with a new payment when reaching each milestone.

Ignore The 4 Hour Work Week. Freelancing is hard work. Dealing with clients all over the globe means dealing with different time-zones. Clients all expect a quick response and to be first in line. Don’t expect it to be easy. It’s a job like any other job, except you’re working for yourself. Be a strict boss. Don’t put up with behavior that your old boss would not have accepted from you.