A few years ago, nearly every new web developer I met was taking the freelancing path. In fact, many developers I knew were jumping into freelancing without any real preparation for its challenges. If you’re thinking about taking that leap yourself, it’s important to understand both the highs and lows of the self-employment lifestyle.
Purpose of this guide: This guide covers nine common mistakes that new web developer freelancers make in running their businesses. The goal is to help you avoid these common pitfalls so that you can have a more successful freelance business and ultimately enjoy a larger bottom line while doing what you love!
Defining problem: This set of mistakes is based on personal experience; some mistakes I’ve made myself and others I’ve seen people around me make. For those who are considering or have recently started their journey as a web developer freelancer, this guide will provide insights into problems they may be facing or will face soon and help them avoid making costly errors in their business practices. Knowing these potential pitfalls should allow people to plan ahead and shore up necessary skills before they take the leap which will ultimately result in better freelance businesses for all involved!
1. Trying To Please Everyone
If one thing is true about all people, it’s that we’re all different. While this might seem like a given, most freelancers don’t consider the sheer range of values and preferences their audience has.
You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. Instead of trying to design a website that appeals to all users, create your content with a single person in mind: your ideal client. Doing this will help you focus on your target market, who will ultimately be the majority of those hiring you.
What is my target market? The answer might not be obvious at first, after all, it can seem counterintuitive to limit yourself when looking for clients but there are countless ways to define this group based on factors such as:
- Family Status (Single/Married/Children)
- Income Level
- Location/Geographic Area
2. Focusing Too Much On The Money
When you’re new to the space, the most natural thing to do is to feel anxious about money (especially when it’s not really your own) and focus on how little you’re making. But if you view yourself through that lens, you’ll never grow as a professional. That is why it’s important to get out of that mindset and focus on the work instead.
To start doing so, take this simple test as a starting point: How much money do I make today? Don’t think about how much you’ll make in two weeks or six months; just look at today’s amount. Write down a number below: If this number is enough for you to make a comfortable living (even if some people would call it “spending”) then congratulations! You can choose to make more money doing other things, but don’t let that be an excuse for not focusing on your work first.
3. Not Being Authentic
You want to connect with your target audience, you want to build trust, you want to build a reputation, and you want to create content that is congruent. You can achieve all of this when you are authentic.
Being authentic might be the easiest freelance web developer mistake on this list but it is still something that many freelancers struggle with. Many people are afraid they will be judged if they are authentic and honest on their blogs or social media accounts. That’s why most freelancers end up talking about themselves in a way that sounds fake and unreal.
If you want to become more authentic, start by asking yourself “what do I have in mind when I read certain posts”? Then focus on sharing your thoughts about what other freelancers post instead of just sharing links (at least once in a while).
4. Not Having A Business Plan
Although we won’t be talking about what a business plan is (you can read the Wikipedia article here), I’d like to make it clear that it’s important to have one in order to effectively run your business. As the owner of two websites, I’ve found that a few of my worst mistakes were due to not having one, and my most successful endeavors were thanks to the help of this document.
The first mistake I made was thinking that I could do everything on my own. If you want your website to be successful and run smoothly, you need people who know more than you do and who care more about your company than you do. This is why having a business partner or hiring an online assistant will help pave the way for success. Not only will they help out with admin tasks but also offer ideas in areas where you don’t have enough knowledge or at least the capacity to handle them yourself.
5. Keeping A Full-Time Job And Freelancing
There are a lot of things that Web developers can do to make more money, and one of the most common is working for themselves. While this sounds like a good idea at first glance, you might not want to do this if you’re new or your schedule is hectic (or both).
Getting your own business off the ground (and keeping it running) can seem like a good idea to anyone, but it’s essential that you really know what you’re doing. To learn even more about how well-established businesses are run, take a look at the book Start with WHY: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.
It provides an inspiring case study on how one company built its brand by focusing on why they do what they do better than anyone else in the world. This way, they aren’t just selling their product they are actually selling you their dreams as well.
6. Underestimating Client Demands
Before you become a web developer, it is important to understand the nature of client-contractor relationships. Because you are the expert in your field, clients will often come to you with unclear ideas about what they want for their project and may not know how long it will take to complete the work. It is important to have clear communication with your clients about their expectations and timelines so that you can avoid being overworked or underpaid.
For example, let’s say a client comes to you wanting a simple website created as fast as possible. As soon as they leave your office, realizing that they don’t know what they want (and that no one else can make sense of their instructions), they will call you again asking for five new features all of which need to be implemented by next week. If this sounds stressful, it’s because it is! It’s critical that both parties are on the same page from contract signing until completion in order for every aspect of the project to run smoothly.
7. Underestimating Your Time Demands
When you first start freelancing, it’s easy to take on clients who are looking for a website built. It can be very tempting in the beginning because you just want to do work and get paid. However, there are so many factors that come into play when it comes to picking the right client.
What does your skillset allow you to build? Does it align with what the client needs? If not, can you find someone who has those skills and work together on a project? Just remember that clients will know if you’re able to handle their project or not because they have been around the web development block more than once.
A big mistake I made early on was taking on projects that were WAY over my head. I would spend hours trying to make things work through trial and error when I could have just said no to the project in the first place. If something seems too far out of your scope of experience, then don’t do it. There is always going to be another opportunity in this field for sure. Plus, those experiences make great case studies on your website if done properly!
8. Underpricing Your Services
As a new freelancer, one of the most common questions you’ll face is “How much should I charge?” It’s tough to know where to begin trying to answer that.
Luckily, there are several expert-approved strategies for figuring out how much your services can go for in your market. For instance, consider what a typical price point might be for sites similar to yours, and then consider what makes your offering different from those competitors.
If you’re offering a more streamlined user experience or some other valuable feature beyond what others have offered before, this can justify charging more than their going rate. As far as pricing strategies go, it’s also possible to charge per web page or per hour (though this last method isn’t recommended because it incentivizes working slowly).
In the end, if you’ve done your research and gotten an idea of what the average rates are in your area and tailored that range to fit with your site’s features and any special skills you bring to it, you’ll be well on your way to calculating whether or not you’re undercharging—and if so, how much more you deserve!
9. Not Asking Questions Early Enough
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer and have never worked on a website before, it can be hard to know what questions to ask before getting started. Start by asking yourself: What do I need from this project? What exactly am I building? Who will be using the site? How can I make sure it’s easy for them? Once you have answers to these questions (and any others that come up), you’ll be able to figure out what kind of information each person on your team needs from the project.
This will help you communicate better with them while working on the project and ultimately save everyone time in the long run!
10. Final Thought
This is an excellent rundown of the mistakes that new web developer freelancers tend to make. He points out key areas where they often go wrong and offers tips on how those issues can be avoided.
I do hope that these tips are read by anyone that is new to freelancing, as they serve as good reminders of what you should be always doing. After all, we always need to look back at our work and ask ourselves how we could have done things better. The idea here is to improve yourself as a freelancer, in order not just to survive but also thrive.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s Your Experience?
The best way to answer this question is to show examples of your work, preferably on your website. It’s important to let clients know that you are an expert in your field and that you can do the job they need to be done.
For example: “I have worked with clients ranging from small businesses to large corporations, and have built websites that have been featured on sites like Mashable and Forbes. My clients range from startups just getting started, all the way up to Fortune 500 companies.”
How Do I Get Paid?
You can get paid in a variety of ways, including through PayPal or direct deposit into your bank account. There are also options for getting paid by check or wire transfer if you prefer those methods of payment.
What Should I Be Charging?
That’s up to you! You should charge enough to make it worth your while and keep the lights on (and maybe even have some fun), but not so much that you feel uncomfortable with the amount of work involved in doing the job well or feeling like you’re ripping off your client.
Not Having A Portfolio Website
A portfolio website allows potential clients to see your work before hiring you, so make sure yours is professional-looking and easy to navigate.
It should include links to any websites or apps that were created by you or your company; screenshots of those projects; contact information; pricing details; examples of any past projects (these should be short descriptions rather than full articles); testimonials from previous customers; and social media profiles where they can find more information about what makes your company special (or even just follow along on Twitter!).
What Are The Most Common Mistakes New Web Developer Freelancers Make?
The most common mistakes new web developer freelancers make is not having a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it. Freelancing is a great way for you to grow as a designer and build your portfolio, but if you don’t have an idea of what you want to build or create, then it’s going to be hard for clients to see your potential.
So the first thing you should do when starting out is set some goals for yourself. This will help guide your workflow, give direction to your projects, and help you focus on what’s important.
How Can I Avoid Making These Mistakes?
The best way to avoid making these mistakes is by educating yourself as much as possible! There are tons of resources online that can help you learn more about web development such as tutorials, books, videos, etc.