This is how most newbie freelancers set themselves up for failure

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Let me start this post off with a hard truth:

Many freelancers fail to take their business and income to the level they want.


That’s not a fun thing to think about, right?

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But it’s true.

And after working with many newbie freelancers, I’ve noticed a few common ways they set themselves up for long-term failure.

Today, I’m going to talk about those mistakes to help you avoid them.

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I’ll start with one of the most surprising mistakes – something that many freelancers don’t even give a second thought to.

Failing to address mindset issues

Look – I’m not much of a “woo woo” person.

I’m big on practical, actionable advice.

But here’s the thing:

As a freelancer, having the right mindset is absolutely critical to your success.

Take a look at these harmful thoughts that pop up in your head when you don’t have the right mindset:

  • “I need to apply for freelance jobs.” If you think about finding jobs rather than finding clients, you still have an employee mindset. And that means clients aren’t going to respect you as a business owner – they’re going to treat you like a freelancer who is desperate for work.
  • “Why would anyone hire me? I’m such a fraud.” Ah, imposter syndrome. So many freelancers hold themselves back from reaching their full potential just because they have confidence issues and/or don’t believe they’re worthy of achieving their goals.
  • “I need to take on every client who is remotely interested in working with me.” This means that fear is controlling your every move. While you may not be booked out with your dream clients when you first start your career, you shouldn’t book yourself out with rude clients who want to pay you less than what you’re worth either. At some point, you have to be selective or you won’t grow your business.

Bottom line:

Be confident and treat freelancing like a business if you want to succeed.

Because if you have an employee mindset and make fear-based business decisions, you can bet that your freelance business isn’t going to thrive. 

Being too strapped for cash

Lots of freelancers aren’t exactly rolling in the dough.

I’ve been there, and I get it.

But you know what?

You shouldn’t start a freelance business if you’re broke to the point where you can’t invest in your business at all.

Because if you’re broke, all of your decisions about your freelance business will be based on fear.

Instead of being selective, you’ll take on that rude client who just low-balled you because you feel like you have to do it if you want to put food on the table.

Instead of pitching your target clients, you’ll use low-paying bidding sites like Upwork because you feel like that’s the only way to find work quickly.

Instead of niching down, you’ll market yourself as a generalist out of desperation to win any and every client possible.

In other words, you’ll be so busy seeking instant gratification that you won’t do things that are good for your business long-term.

Don’t get me wrong – you don’t have to have a ton of money to start freelancing.

I certainly didn’t.

But you need to be willing to invest in basic needs, like a business website and anything else you need to market yourself independently.

And you definitely need enough money to avoid making fear-based decisions about your business.

Not niching down 

Seriously – if you start out as a general “freelance writer” or “freelance designer,” you’re not going to get very far.

High-paying clients want to know that you’re a perfect fit for exactly what they need.

And that won’t happen if you’re marketing yourself as a generalist.

So, pick a profitable niche for your freelance business.

For example, you might become a “technology whitepaper writer” or a “logo designer for online entrepreneurs.”

To make sure your desired niche is profitable, ask yourself:

Does my target client in this niche value the kind of work I do and have the budget to pay me well for my work?

If so, you can feel confident knowing that you’ve chosen a solid niche.

Over to you: Have you made any of these common freelancing mistakes

Let’s talk about it in the comments section!

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About Jorden Roper

Jorden Roper is the fuchsia-haired founder of Writing Revolt, where she shares no-BS advice for freelance writers and bloggers. Get her free, in-depth course on how to build a highly profitable freelance writing business (even if you’re a total newbie) here!

Leave a Comment



  1. Thank you! How we as freelancers – correction – creative service providers (business!) need to hear this! Wish we learned truths like these when we first graduated from design schools…

  2. As usual – another great article here! I just started with freelancing and yes I tried upwork but quit it already. What I find difficult as beginner freelancer is to find MY voice for my website. Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

  3. Thanks! Good advice for all of us! New and not so new!

  4. Brilliant post. It’s important to remember why you decided to be a freelancer in the first place and remind yourself everyday. Income isn’t always consistent and the hours are all over the shop but the perk of being your own boss, being able to work anywhere with wireless and the opportunities to work with a huge variety of clients in all sorts of industries is why I became a freelancer. It can be a tough gig some weeks totally worth it.

  5. Hi Jorden,

    I would be guilty of succumbing to the mindset issue more than I’d like to admit.

    Do you have any practical advice or resources you could recommend to freelancers for developing a healthier, more effective freelancer mindset?


  6. I somehow agree with Jorden on this. Though difficult to be very specific about a niche for example: Logo design and not complete graphic design (or generalist in your term) Because whatever you do I think this fear is going to exist in the freelance designer’s mind that he/she might or might not have the next project soon.

    But I really respect all your advises and they are trully beneficial for long term.


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