Some of us start freelancing with bad habits and mean to shake them, but never do. For others, these habits creep up on us – and sometimes, we don’t even recognise them for what they are: bad judgement calls and repeated mistakes that could derail our career and affect our life when we’re least expecting it.
In part 1, I’m looking at the consequences of the Control Freak Streak that many freelancers tend to have…
Fail 1: Doing It All Yourself
At the risk of sounding like a bad amateur psychologist here, it’s obvious to me that for many freelancers, one of the main attractions of freelancing is greater control over their working life and finances.
This can mean that we want, or think we must, do it all. Self-employed must mean that we’ve only employed ourselves! No matter that this pesky task is not our area of expertise, or that it would be quicker and cheaper for someone else to do it; no matter that it wastes time that could be spent growing our business or plying the trade we get paid the big (or adequately large) bucks for. Nope.
We’ll just carry on, cursing at social media plug-ins and tricky code that’s inexplicably turned our website font lime green, and bundling all those invoices back in the file in a huff after our sixth attempt at completing our tax return.
It feels independent. It feels like good financial sense. But doing everything yourself really isn’t.
How to Avoid Fail 1
Accept that you’re not an expert at everything and that you genuinely don’t have time to do everything. Focussing on the talent that drives your freelance career makes good business sense and should make you happier in your work, too!
Identify those tasks that you could and should outsource to a company or another freelancer because it’s not your area of expertise: designing or maintaining your website; managing your social media or handling your accounts and tax returns are all likely suspects.
Identify those tasks that bore you to tears or take up your valuable time, particularly if they are tasks you can get done for a lower hourly rate than your own. If you’re worth £25 per hour, why are you doing a task for which the going hourly rate is £10 – especially if those you outsource to can do it in half the time?
Consider how many of your time-consuming tasks could be automated; a few hours researching software options could save you weeks of work time a year.
Once you’ve taken this to heart, look out for a strongly-related topic in Fatal Freelancing Fails Part 2: I’m Just A Freelancer Who Can’t Say No!
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