The seven deadly sins of freelancing (and how to absolve yourself from them)

What are the seven deadly sins of freelancing? There are plenty we commit. But no matter how sinful our endeavours, we must accept there is always room for improvement.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

From being too isolated and needlessly judging others to not chasing payments and being ridiculously cocky, during this unique and spooky time of year, we consider the terrible traits and mistakes that freelancers make and teach you how to avoid them.

1. Thou shalt not negatively criticise or judge others

While you're busy criticising other people's work or mocking their abilities, consider this – you don't know the full story. Their website might not be "good" because they've been working their asses off elsewhere to pay the bills. Their latest project might not impress because the client had so much input that the final work had its heart and soul ripped out of it.

May I instead suggest the real reason behind your critical thinking? You're insecure. Others threaten you. Or worse, you're so over-confident that you think you're better than everyone else. Have an honest word with your ego and consider whether your criticism is justified or pointlessly negative.

2. Thou shalt not be over-confident

Speaking of over-confidence, if you think you're better than you are, you'll never be able to improve. You'll never push yourself out of your comfort zone. You'll be reluctant to admit when you're wrong. And you may even ignore advice from others.

We're not saying that you have to become super humble. Just recognise that it's a positive thing to be self-critical, and recognise your own cognitive biases that you won't know everything. On that final note, never stop learning and growing because you're only as good as your last piece of work.

3. Thou shalt not forget to care

There is nothing more irritating than a freelancer who doesn't care. They want to get the job done and dusted, and out the door without any real concern. It's all about the money — nothing else.

When did you stop caring about your work? Has freelancing become such a slog that you can't even be bothered anymore? Bring back your good nature by considering how better your work will be if you care about the outcome rather than just the pay packet.

4. Thou shalt not be isolated

It's great to work from home. But if you've not left the house in weeks, then there's a risk that you'll become isolated and cut-off from potential opportunities.

When you freelance, it's super important to network and be part of a creative hub. It's how you learn new things, find new clients and keep abreast of the latest trends. Yes, remote working is a beautiful thing. But even the most dedicated homeworker or digital nomad appreciates the benefits of seeing other people and avoiding isolation.

5. Thou shalt not overwork

You might well have the fear of freelancing. And that's perfectly normal. But it's no excuse to overwork and suffer from inevitable burnout.

Stick to a healthy routine. Avoid work during evenings and weekends. Cherish your downtime to ensure you're stress-free and productive. And, when you do sit at your desk, avoid distractions so you can be as profitable with your time as possible.

6. Thou shalt not forget your worth

Are you doing jobs for free? Are you letting people take advantage? Are you struggling to say "no"? If you've lost your confidence lately (or you didn't have much in the first place), you could be turning into a doormat, allowing other people to control you.

Bottom line. To be a successful freelancer, you have to be confident. You have to know thy worth. You should be in charge of your destiny. There is nothing wrong with saying "no". You're more than entitled to determine how you spend your time. You should also be charging an hourly rate that reflects your skills and experience without feeling guilty about it.

7. Thou shalt not forget that you're running a business

You forget to invoice. You're rubbish at chasing payments. You are way over-generous when clients want extra things for free. It's a business you're running, not a charity. It's time you treated it that way.

You – and only you – can determine how your business operates. If you are committing this terrible sin, then it's time to get super professional. Send out nicely designed invoices on time; chase payments the minute they're due; have organised workflows; log your time and look the part. You're in business, after all.


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