We all make mistakes* and get it wrong occasionally. In the interests of shared experience making us all better, I thought I would write about five of my own freelance fails.
When I set up a children’s outdoor craft and creative play session, I didn’t google the name. I just liked it, used it and set up a little Wix website. As you can imagine, Wildplay has various online connotations. Luckily, the others are *mostly* similar and not rude, and the hashtag is now generally used with the intended meaning.
I thought I was being smart registering a wordmark and logo of my first business. But I bought the logo from a free online logo generator (I KNOW), so the fact that a local-ish nursery uses a very similar one is something I could do little about.
Using the right sized images
Ah, we all do it. It looks rubbish. We’ve all grappled with our social media images. Used Photoshop and picmonkey and juggled plug-ins and scheduling apps. You need to check it and check it again and delete it if it looks rubbish, because it makes your business look unprofessional. Use Canva for Work to resize for different platforms or I love Buffer’s Pablo. Get it right on WordPress too. Check your theme, get a plug-in – make it happen.
Knowing your worth
As a freelancer, my hourly rate must pay enough to cover my overheads and pay me a decent, living wage for every hour I work. I wanted to make it accessible to the people I want to work with (small, local businesses), so I keep my rate reasonably low, but I do make sure I’m paid. Otherwise it’s a hobby and I’ll have to get an employed job. *alarmed face*
If you can’t match the accessibility you want to the pay rate that you need, then you do not have a business. I’m now up-front about my charges and confident that I can give good value.
Focusing on the right folk
There’s loads of reasons that someone genuinely interested (and in my target demographic) might not give me business, but one of them (that I kept hearing after investing my time) was basic affordability.
If someone doesn’t see the value of my services, I can go back and demonstrate what value I bring. But if their business would never have been able to support my fees, then I really do need to focus my energy elsewhere or find another way for us to work together.
This made me realise that I needed to be more up-front about my fees. I couldn’t change the fact that it wasn’t affordable to them, but I could discover that fact earlier.
I do still spend time with people just because I like them, have some emotional investment in their business or perhaps see a future working together, but I am mindful of what I’m doing. This is spending time with nice people. Perhaps it’s mentoring, skill-sharing, free training, or charity work. It’s not business though and it won’t pay my bills.
Do think about other options for working with smaller, newer businesses though. These are some of my faves to work with and where I can give the most value, so I am working on ways to make it happen (and still be paid). For me, this is via group workshops or social events with tea and an open door policy for questions and crazy ideas. (Please email me if you are in this group – I can do sessions when I have enough people up for it).
Finally, although I hope this list is useful to you, please never let a fear of mistakes stop you trying stuff and forging forward. A mistake is a lesson. The day I stop making mistakes will be the day I am no longer working. And learning.