Top 5 mistakes to avoid as a freelance developer

Working as a freelance developer is a great choice for any tech talent dreaming of more freedom, increased flexibility, greater incomes, and better opportunities for career development. While freelancing is one of the most rewarding paths you can take as a tech professional, it does have some pitfalls to be avoided.

As a freelance developer you need to be mindful of your many responsibilities in order to succeed in the long run. The road of a freelance developer can get rocky at times but avoiding the following five mistakes will take you long on your career as a freelance developer.

1. Not setting clear boundaries

One of the biggest challenges that freelance developers face is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It can be tempting to say "yes" to every opportunity that comes your way, but growing your to-do list endlessly may lead to burnout, missed deadlines, and poor quality work.

Set clear boundaries around your work schedule and communicate these boundaries to your clients. More precisely, establish specific working hours, define your response times, and plan your project deadlines. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re providing high-quality work to your clients and that you don’t run out of energy and motivation.

2. Failing to communicate with clients

Communication skills are equally important to technical know-how for freelance developers. Many freelance tech talents work fully remotely or meet clients only occasionally. Especially without regular face-to-face contact with clients, the importance of great communication capabilities is crucial.

Establish clear communication channels with your clients and keep them regularly updated on the progress of their projects. Being a proactive communicator will help you to build trusted relationships with the clients. In addition, open communication keeps everyone on the same page regarding project expectations, timelines, and deliverables.

3. Neglecting your professional development

As a freelance developer, it’s important to keep learning because neglecting your professional development can lead to outdated skills and decreased demand for your services. This is particularly important within the field of technology characterised by constant change and endless development.

Stay ahead of the curve and relevant for the clients by taking time for self-development. Reserve slots from your calendar for learning new things and developing your existing skills. Read about industry trends to stay up to date and attend events within your field to know what’s going on. You may also look for project opportunities that let you hone your new skills in practice and widen your portfolio.

4. Not selling and marketing your services

It would be naive to just sit and wait for clients to come to buy your services. Therefore, proactivity in sales and marketing efforts is crucial for any freelance developer. However, if you think that these two aren’t your areas of expertise or if you just prefer to focus on the actual development work, you have the alternative of outsourcing.

Tech talent agencies, such as Thriv, take care of all sales and marketing efforts in order to find you the best possible project. While we scout for project opportunities matching your skills, interests, and passions, you can focus on doing what you love and unleash your full potential.

5. Forgetting about contracts

Even though you would do a project for an old friend or an ex-colleague, it is very important not to forget to sign clear contracts before getting to work. Contracts protect both you and your client by outlining the scope of work, deadlines, and payment terms. If problems occur during the project, contracts can help to prevent disputes and misunderstandings. At Thriv, we use clear and fair contract templates in all our projects to protect our freelance talents from possible problems and ensure smooth cooperation between the talent and the client.

We are here to help you throughout your journey as an entrepreneur. Just reach out to us and let’s talk!

Linnea Erkamo - Head of Marketing

Linnea Erkamo

Head of Marketing