5 most common mistakes new freelancers make

Kayla Brown
Written by Kayla Brown
on December 15, 2020

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and become your own boss. We couldn’t be more excited for you! But before you start outlining your new Udemy course on how you made six figures during your first year of freelancing, here’s a list of the most common mistakes that rookie freelancers make. And how Xolo Go can make sure you don’t make them!

Rookie Mistake #1

Diving in before agreeing on terms

So you’ve just snagged a new client. Score! Quick, get to work before they change their mind! 

Easy there, tiger. As any seasoned freelancer will tell you, beginning a project before all parties have agreed to terms is a disaster waiting to happen. Hammering out the details re: the scope of the project, rates, due dates, payments terms etc. will make it much more likely both parties walk away satisfied. And should things get ugly, the right documentation will make it more difficult for a client to walk away without paying!

Xolo Go’s Project Tool helps freelancers of all types draft terms and conditions for a project, and send it over to the client for approval. The Project Tool also helps make invoicing a breeze (more on that next!). 

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Rookie Mistake #2

Invoice game strong weak

Ok, so maybe you’re not scrawling some barely legible figures in crayon and faxing it over to the client. You deserve some credit. But one of the mistakes newbie freelancers make is not giving much thought to their invoicing protocol. They throw all their effort into delivering high-quality work. But once the project is done, they send over a barely formatted .pdf with balance due, bank details, and not much else. 

Having an offboarding process that goes off without a hitch is the savvy freelancer’s secret weapon when it comes to retaining clients. Invoicing that’s prompt, detailed and attractive, with clear directions for how the client should proceed, can mean the difference between a repeat customer and getting business-ghosted!

Lucky for you, Xolo Go’s easy and intuitive invoicing tool will help you create detailed, professional invoices in no time at all. Choose from a gallery of attractive, easy to format templates (no more agonising over the perfect font and colour palette!). Now just click send and watch that money roll in!

Learn more best practices for invoicing like a pro here.

Rookie Mistake #3

Not separating business and personal finances

When you’re first starting out as a freelancer, your to-do list is a mile long. When you’re hustling around trying to find new clients, set up your website and keep those skills razor-sharp, it’s understandable that setting up a business bank account is often the last thing on a new freelancer’s mind. 

New freelancers usually end up using their personal account to collect revenue and pay for business expenses. Which makes tax season even more of a nightmare than usual, because it becomes nearly impossible to determine which expenses are business-related. This means many freelancers end up paying far more than they would have if they had kept business and personal separate!

When you use Xolo Go, a business bank account is automatically set up for you. Everything is handled 100% online, so there’s no need to leave your home or even put on pants! Deducting expenses is a breeze. Just snap a photo of your receipt and either upload it directly or email it to your account. The accounting wizards at Xolo will take it from there. Best of all, you can withdraw money to your personal account anytime you want!

Think before taking your next step as a freelancer.

Rookie Mistake #4

Assuming any ‘ol bookkeeper will do

You’ve decided to get some outside help, excellent choice! But one of the mistakes many new freelancers make is assuming any bookkeeper will be able to do the job. So while it’s tempting to just go ahead and hire your cousin’s neighbour’s sister, who comes highly recommended (even though she’s spent the last 20 years doing corporate accounting for Fortune 500s) — you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you find someone who has experience navigating the intricate world of freelancers!

With Xolo Go, you’ll have an army of experienced accountants ready to help you with everything from compliance to making sure the correct VAT is charged for that new client in Cyprus. All that pesky accounting is set on autopilot so you can focus on making that money, honey!

Rookie Mistake #5

Thinking you can do it all by yourself

Being your own boss can be one of the most liberating, exhilarating, validating and fulfilling experiences a person can have. But it can also be really, really lonely and anxiety-inducing, especially when you’re first starting out. 

One of the mistakes we see a lot of newbies make is not reaching out to fellow freelancers in their industry. While it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing them as competition, or being hesitant to engage because it triggers your imposter syndrome, the fact is that these people are your people. No one else will be able to understand the highs and lows of freelancing like your fellow freebies. Which is why your friends at Xolo created a Freelance Xchange group as a safe space to crowdsource ideas, share pro tips, or vent about a nightmare client. So don’t be afraid to reach out and engage — you may have chosen a solo career, but there’s still great strength in numbers!

Read more about why a great freelancer community is essential.

So what are you waiting for? Take 10 minutes and sign up for Xolo Go today so you can skip all those awkward (and expensive!) growing pains that come with being a new freelancer!

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