Business woman looking at phone freelance business

Do you have one of the five big habits that will keep you from making money as a freelancer? Sure, there may be times when you find yourself in a position where your brand makes a promise that, for whatever reason, you are legitimately unable to keep. It happens. Computers crash, the kids get sick, a blizzard blankets your region and causes your house to lose power. How you handle the fallout from your failure to deliver can make the difference between running a successful freelance business and running your freelance business into the ground.

Your Reputation = Your Money

Your reputation directly impacts your earning ability when you run a freelance business. Bidding platforms like Upwork and People Per Hour, encourage customers to leave feedback and performance ratings after contractors complete jobs for them. Earn just a few lukewarm reviews that peg you as mediocre or incompetent and your opportunities to win jobs on these platforms will dry up.

Few employers are looking to hire contractors with B-grade or C-grade feedback. On Upwork, a provider with a cumulative performance score of anything less than a 90% job completion rate is well on her way to being unhireable. Some job postings require bidders to have minimum ratings before they can even be considered for a job. There’s no question about it: A good reputation (and a great freelancer resume and profile) will translate into more money and more opportunities for your freelance business, online or offline.

5 Habits That Keep You From Making Money as a Freelancer

We’re not talking about anything as dirty as taking someone’s money then not delivering on a job. We’re talking about everyday missteps on your road to success. These are the actions, inactions and habits that can foil the success of even the most talented freelancer.

  1. Bidding on a job too hastily – You want the job, so you scan the job posting or breeze through the initial consultation with the client, only to find out once you’ve taken the job that it requires far more work than what you’ve billed the client for and far more work that you’ve carved out time in your schedule to do. Rookie mistake. Always get a clear understanding of the full scope of a job before submitting your bid, even if that means you take an extra few hours or day before you bid.
  2. Missing deadlines – It happens. You get a job and you don’t deliver on time. This is not uncommon in the freelance business, but make it uncommon for you. If you are going to miss the deadline, be sure to notify your client ahead of time. Don’t wait until 11:59PM on the night of the deadline to say, “It ain’t gonna happen.”
  3. Going silent -This horrible habit will strike fear in the heart of most any client. Extend the professional courtesy of keeping your clients in the loop at all times. This is particularly true if you miss a deadline or run into other trouble. Never ever go silent on a client. I’ve done it, and the only thing worse than going silent on a client is trying to back out of the silence and start communicating again. Eye roll. #shame
  4. Being in breach of a Non-Disclosure Agreement – Sometimes in an effort to protect themselves and their trade secrets, clients will draft Non-Disclosure Agreements and ask you to sign them. READ THE AGREEMENT. Some NDAs ask you to make commitments that may hurt your business in the long run. If you cannot keep a clause in the agreement, ask the employer to modify or remove the clause. If he or she will not, move on to the next job.
  5. Outsourcing to sub-par subcontractors – We all want to be able to say we have our own team, but if a client has hired you for your unique talent, style and abilities, it will be apparent if you outsource the work to someone who works below your level of proficiency. Make it clear at the onset that you work with a team. If the employer wants you to do the work personally, price the job accordingly and DO THE WORK.

As someone who runs a freelance business, your livelihood thrives or dies based on your reputation and your ability to build a brand that makes, and consistently delivers on, its promises. The more you adhere to that truth, the more profitable your business will be.