Unraveled Media

The 8 Common Mistakes The First Time Freelancer Makes

first time freelancer

You’ve probably already imagined it in your mind:

The thrill of quitting your day job. The excitement of being your own boss. The sun warming your face as you lie on a beautiful beach, sipping a cocktail while you work on your laptop.

Slow down! While it’s definitely possible to become a full-time freelancer, it’s not as easy as you think.

Here are eight common mistakes new freelancers make…and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Not Charging What you’re Worth

One of the biggest mistakes new freelancers make is not charging what their time is worth.

You could reason that since you’re new to the game, you need to charge less than other freelancers. Or you could accept low-paying work from random job boards, thinking that any work is better than no work.

That mindset will get you nowhere. You have something very valuable to offer to clients – a professional skill their business needs! So never sell yourself short.

On the flip side, don’t be cocky and charge outrageous prices, either. If your portfolio doesn’t look like $100/hour work, don’t try to charge $100/hour.

If you’re not sure how to price your services, do some research to find out what other freelancers are charging.

Mistake #2 – Spreading Yourself too Thin

Another challenge facing new freelancers is finding (and keeping) a healthy work-life balance.

You might inadvertently take on more work than you can handle. You might have a hard time juggling your day job, family commitments, and other obligations. Or you might spend too much time on “busy work” that isn’t furthering your business.

You are not superhuman. You can’t say “yes” to everything and expect to find time to do it all. Worse still, you’ll end up with a mediocre portfolio that won’t impress anyone.

Set a steady work schedule and try your best to stick to it. Only accept jobs you really want to do.

Most importantly, know your limits and know when to say “no.”

Mistake #3 – Not Having a Clear Business Plan

Have you ever thought of starting your own business? Freelancing is one of those things that seems really easy…until you try it.

Where and how should you focus your time? What are your marketing strategies? How strong is your social media presence?

Before you can get your business off the ground, you need to create a solid business plan.

For starters, invest in a professional website. Research which marketing strategies are working for other freelancers. Create a realistic budget and stick to it.

And rather than trying to do everything, pick one niche and specialize in it. That’s the surest way to create a strong, impressive portfolio.

Mistake #4 – Choosing the Wrong Clients

As you’re narrowing down your list of clients, make sure you’re also creating a list of clients you don’t want to work with.

It can be tempting to jump on any offers that come your way, especially in the beginning. But if something about a potential client rubs you the wrong way, don’t ignore that feeling.

Do they seem overly demanding or cheap (or both)? Are they unclear about what they want? How quickly (or slowly) do they respond to your questions?

Potential clients aren’t just deciding if they want to work with you. You need to be screening them, too, to determine if they’re the sort of people you want to work for.

Bottom line: If your gut tells you not to accept a job – don’t.

Mistake #5 – Working Without a Contract

As a freelancer, you’ll likely be working with clients from all over the world. These people may have a different culture, different values, and a different way of doing business.

That’s one of many reasons why you should always put everything in writing. All proposals, contracts, and submissions should be written down and signed by both parties before any work begins.

A contract is your opportunity to outline exactly what the client can expect from you. It’s your chance to iron out the details, too, such as how many revisions the client can request.

And if the client doesn’t want to sign a contract? Refer to mistake #4.

Mistake #6 – Assuming you Know Everything

We all know the saying, “The customer is always right.”

Most of the time, they are.

They’re the ones hiring you, so it’s important to listen carefully to their requests. Try to ascertain their needs, and always respectfully consider their point of view.

While there’s nothing wrong with offering suggestions, don’t assume that your way is always the best way. You may have the expertise, but your client knows what his business needs.

To be a successful freelancer, you must first be a good listener.

Mistake #7 – Under (or over) Delivering

It’s easy to fall into the habit of mindlessly churning out projects without putting any real effort into them. This is especially true if you’re accepting jobs that you’re not excited about.

But indifference leads to laziness. Once you get lazy with your work, you’ll start to miss deadlines and lose clients. So always go the extra mile, and never settle for the bare minimum.

On the flip side, it’s also possible to be too dedicated to a project or client.

An open line of communication is important, but you can’t allow your client to take over your life. There should be set times when the client can call or email you – and set times when they can’t.

While you will occasionally have projects that require extra time, these should be the exception and not the rule. Always seek to find a healthy work-life balance.

Mistake #8 – You Forget your Integrity

It may seem like a minor point, but it’s probably the most important.

If bills are piling up and work isn’t flowing in, you might be tempted to take any offer that comes along. But if that job goes against your principles or beliefs, it will only leave you feeling resentful.

The whole reason you became a freelancer was to do work that you love.

So if you’re not passionate about the project, give it a pass. More work – better work – will come.

Becoming a Successful Freelancer

In 2016, the 55 million freelancers working in the U.S. earned over $1 trillion.

One thing’s for sure: There is no shortage of work for aspiring graphic designers. As technology advances, the need for skilled freelancers will only continue to grow.

With the right foundation and enough determination, you can be one of them.

How to Turn Your Side Hustle Gig into a Cash Cow

turn side hustle into cash cow

Looking to turn your side hustle into real cash?

We have the answers you are looking for!

Freelancing while you’re in school is always a great way to get some experience, some extra spending cash for social activities, and even get your foot in the door with promising companies. Every paying gig is a good gig, right?

But, could it become more?

Here’s how to turn your side hustle gig into a cash cow by doing what you’re good at and turning it up a notch:

Troll Every Gig Site

Are you just going to your tried and true favorite client or job board? Look beyond what you’re used to and open some new doors for yourself. Here are some gig sites and some tips for getting the most out of every one of them:


  • Look For Gigs In Each City – If you’re only looking in your own city, you’re missing opportunities for remote freelancing in others. Go through each one.
  • Check It Often – Get in the habit of going through Craigslist at least once a week if not more often for fresh opportunities.
  • Create A Template To Respond – Don’t just copy/paste every time you respond, but you should have a solid response that you know highlights your best work to customize in order to save time.


What makes this gig site stand out among the rest? It focuses specifically on design gigs and it’s set up for you to continue to build your portfolio. Tailored towards students who are studying at a US university, Boonle provides a great way for businesses to connect with students on freelance design work.

Check it out for yourself. It’s free and easy to use.


If you’re already a Gigwalker, good on you! You’re taking advantage of handling small tasks with your smartphone for a few bucks.

If not, give it a shot. It’s kind of awesome.

  • Check It Before Running Errands – If you’re already planning to head to the mall to buy some new kicks, why not check out Gigwalk to see if there are any opportunities for cash on the way?
  • Use It On Vacation – When you’re traveling you may discover gigs that aren’t available where you normally are and it can send you in some interesting directions to get to know the area.


With a little elbow grease, it is possible to make a full-time living on Fiverr. Because you’re actively marketing yourself on Fiverr and not just responding to posts, you want to stand out.

Here are some tips:

  • Invest In Promotion – It may be worth it to pay someone else to take some head shots of you if you’re a designer or have a designer create a logo for you if you’re a photographer. Looking professional matters.
  • Keep Track of Progress – The platform offers great analytics to keep track of your sales and how well you’re doing overall. Stay on top of the trends.

Hubstaff Talent

If you’re tired of having to pay to use freelance websites, check out Hubstaff Talent. Hubstaff Talent is completely free, no fees and no markups, unlike many other similar websites that have a pay to play business model.

After you create your profile, businesses can search for you based on skill, availability or location and reach out to you directly if they think you’d be a good fit for a gig. No dealing with third party websites to communicate, it’s all done directly between the two parties.

You can also browse through hundreds of remote jobs on the Hubstaff Talent Remote Job Board and apply for whatever ones catch your attention.

Create your profile here: https://talent.hubstaff.com/profile_types

Up Sell Existing Customers

Do you have regular clients and customers who love what you do? Hit them up for more money! That doesn’t mean you don’t have to earn it, but you do have to ask for it.

If you’re a designer, for example, assess their brand’s presence online and offer to make improvements for an additional rate. It just may be the match they need to ignite change at their company and you could be the one to strike it.

Ask for Reviews

Your best clients and customers who email you and text you to say that you’re the bee’s knees may not always think to leave good reviews for you, so you have to ask. Fiverr, LinkedIn, and Facebook (if you have a Facebook page) are great places to do this.

Not only will this make you look good when potential customers and clients look you up, but it may even help you in the link building department if you get enough of them.

Have and Maintain a Website

This could be your first and last name as a domain or a company name that you create and register. You always want to have someplace to send existing and potential clients to who are just waiting for a reason to pay you to do a gig.

Happy with your existing roster? You’re not reaching far enough! If you get new interest, you may get new business and an excuse to raise your rates as well.

Raise Your Gig Rates

You may have had to lowball in terms of your talent for a while, but you’re starting to get noticed and instead of having to turn down gigs, it may be time to raise your rates.

If you’re getting interest from lots of different clients and customers and it’s taking longer and longer for you to fulfill orders, supply and demand determine that it’s time to charge more. It’s simple math.

Diversify Your Skill Set

Just because you’re the design gig guru doesn’t mean that every gig you do has to be all focused on design. Why not venture into writing and marketing?

Also, if you’ve just taken a class in something that’s given you a new skill to try out, don’t wait until graduation to get your sea legs. If you’re not feeling 100% confident with your skill level at first, you can always start out charging a bit less just to see how things go, but you should definitely give yourself a chance.

Save Up For Bigger Opportunities

As tempting as it may be, don’t blow all your gig money on X-Box games, beer, and junk food. Once you graduate, you may want to relocate, travel, or explore other professional opportunities.

Save the dough you’re banking for starting a bigger business of your own or with a business partner. You could put your gig forces together in order to expand and keep growing.

Alternately, you could use all the money you’re saving to pay off your student loans and graduate with less debt. Without having high payments every month, you’re saving yourself for brighter opportunities!

Get Friends and Family Involved

Yes, this could mean that they’ll be asking you for professional favors, but it doesn’t have to mean that if you stand your ground. Having the support of your friends and family is helpful when you’re trying to turn your gig-based economy into a cash cow.

Hand out business cards every chance you get and promote yourself as much as possible. You never know who knows who. Get out there and network.

Have a success story about turning your side gig into your main gig? Leave a comment! We want to hear about it.