Imagine this scene …
I walk out of my bank with $50,000 of cash in my arms. I then walk up to you and put all those brand new, crisp one hundred dolar bills into your own arms. It’s a pretty sizable stack for sure. I then tell you can have some, but first you have to toss it all up into the Oklahoma gusty wind — and whatever you can catch, you can keep!
At first you would be pretty excited at the prospect of having all that cash, but then would quickly realize that this tactic is going to lose you a lot of money. But because anything is better than nothing, you just go for it.
It’s a silly illustration, but unfortunately I see many freelancers take this approach when it comes to selling their services. They have a prospective client willing to hire them and give them money for their services, but the freelancer just throws numbers into the air hoping to catch whatever they can. And they lose, time and time again.
How to Lose Money as a Freelancer
I can’t imagine that anyone starts out in business hoping to lose money. Unless you are looking to give your fortune away or need a hefty tax break, I just don’t see too many people waking up in the morning and thinking to themselves, how can I throw away thousands of dollars today … but it happens! I guess some people are happy at losing.
If you are one of those freelancers who prefers Spam over steak, then here are the sure fire tips to help you lose your money.
1. Don’t Value Your Skills
Yep. This is the best one. When you talk with potential clients, make sure that you communicate with them verbally or non-verbally that you really don’t value or appreciate your skills. Who cares about the training and time it took you to develop them. Just make sure that you let people know you’re not that good.
2. Don’t Show Any Confidence
This is a classic tip. You don’t want anyone to actually believe in you, do you? Don’t exude any type of confidence in your ability to do the work or that you actually know what you’re talking about. Confuse your clients by making them second guess working with you.
3. Don’t Have a Backbone
Contrary to popular belief, your clients want you to be a spineless minion who will tickle their every fancy. Freelancers shouldn’t ask important questions or boldly present solutions that will benefit their clients. Just do what you’re told and it will all be smooth sailing.
4. Don’t Showcase Great Work
Winning amazing, profitable projects begins with showcasing great work on your website or on other websites like Dribbble or Behance. But you’re not going to do that are you? Ensure that you have a crappy portfolio with projects that look amateurish or that were done with free apps specifically not created for design or development.
5. Don’t Respond to Emails or Phone Calls
This one is simple. Don’t make it easy to contact you. Follow the lead of other freelancers who don’t want to make a living. Never, under any circumstances, post a phone number for prospective clients or current clients to call you. Who wants to be bothered? And be sure to delete those emails as they come in, or at a minimum, wait three weeks to respond.
BONUS! Don’t Charge Enough for Your Services
I’m not sure why this actually made the list because it seems many of you already have this perfected. The best way to lose money is to never charge enough for the work you do. Or give a giant discount because we all know the client that promises more work for a cheap deal will ALWAYS come through. I think working insane hours day and night for no profit (or benefits) is the American Dream.
Sarcastic. Tongue in Cheek Advice.
Let me be serious to end this post. These sarcastic pieces of advice are real. They are real because freelancers actually do practice them daily and it’s not good for them or their profession as a whole. If this happens to be you, it’s time to change your mindset.
You should truly strive to go against the grain. You should do everything in your power to learn from these honest mistakes and bad habits and turn your business around. And I can tell you, I made these mistakes in the first ten years of my own business. It’s extremely painful to tell your family they have to eat another MRE for dinner. It sucks when your water gets shut off or you have to pawn family heirlooms to keep the lights on. I have been there.
If you’ve been struggling to build your freelance business and finding it difficult to make a living, chances are you are doing one or all of the things above. The good news is that you can change it and you can change it today!