10 Common Freelancer Booboos to Avoid

01 April 2011
It's April Fools Day, folks! Time to back up your blog. As the occasion seems fitting, this month's theme will be about booboos.

cute laughing cat, courtesy of Free-Extra images
Booboos? Editors call these "gremlins," data entry workers "typographical errors" and common folks "mistakes" "slip-ups" "botches" and a whole lot of things. 

I must admit that I've had my share on some of them. The rest I heard from freelancers who got burned rather badly and whined about their plight.

The good news is you can learn from our stupidity. Here are the 10 common freelancing mistakes you want to avoid:

10. Free Samples.  

Most freelancers play nice and agree to providing free customized samples in the hopes of landing a job. What you probably don't know is that 90 percent of content predators steal your work with this arrangement.

9. Discount Pricing on Long-Term Commitments. 

The good news is long-term work offers you temporary reprieve from client hopping. The bad news is that clients who have no real intentions of hiring anyone long term will use the offer as an excuse to go bargain hunting. 

8. Bulk Projects. 

The price tag that goes with bulk projects is highly deceptive, and deadlines for the big projects tend to be tighter too. Do per-hour or per-article calculations to discover how low-paying the gig really is. You're not a factory, and neither are your time and services.

7. Escrow Payment Workarounds.  

Do you think paying 10 percent for security is too much? Try PayPal charge-backs and not getting paid at all. Escrow is one of the safest ways to get paid working from home, as the system protects both the client and the service provider. Don't expect protection to come free though. 

6. Herd Mentality.  

Being in the "wrong" community is a recipe for disaster. Sites frequented by Asians are often equated to low balling. The latter reason is why I stay away from Freelancer (then known as GAF). Twenty to 50 cents for a unique, error-free article? I'd rather fry burgers at McDonald's; thank you.

5. School Paper and Honors. 

These might work for scholarship interviews, but freelancing is an entirely different turf. Don't mention being the editor-in-chief of your grade school paper or being crowned Prom Queen or King at the ball. Claims like these signal to clients that you're amateurish and a tad too desperate selling yourself. The funniest public profile that I came across began with "I am PhD."

4. Job Board Listing. 

Depositing your full resume in job boards is equivalent to posting your naked e-mail address on the web. You're flirting dangerously with identity thieves and spam bots! Do you honestly think that a hundred clients will call you after you post your information? Oh, dreamer, yes, you must be dreaming.

3. Profile Information.

Don't obsess on your profile page. It'll only do half of the work. You'd want to pay attention to one other freelancing weapon: your written communication skills. A nice profile will prevent you from being weeded out as a nuisance candidate. A killer proposal will land you the job.

2. Deadlines.

Long deadlines make procrastinating so tempting. Of late, I have not been very religious in keeping mine. My schedule started to collapse during wedding preparation. Believe me when I say that not sticking to your client's deadline is the fastest way to get axed (gulp). 

1. Earnings. 

When you begin to earn 5 to 10 times more than your regular day job, you start to think that money grows on trees, right? Well, it doesn't. A lot of freelancers make this mistake and live like one-day millionaires, splurging moolah here and there when they could actually use the amount to secure their finances.

Have you ever had a freelancing booboo? Share your freelancing mistakes here, and let's all have a good laugh. You can also comment on that cute kitty pic. That photo doesn't show Vanilla, Munchkin or Cookie Boy.  The image comes from Free-Extras.com. *

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