A Letter From an Old and Unlucky Freelancer: 13 Freelancing Mistakes to Avoid

Lera Gudmundsdottir K
4 min readJan 10, 2023

I started freelancing in 2009 in times of Odesk, Elance, and other courage places to get freelance jobs. And I faced some unsuccessful possibilities there, so I think today it’s a time to share most of them with you, my little curious freelance colleague.

You can hear many success stories from some of the star freelancers about rivers of gold from their freelance work. But there are many hidden stories about how freelancers were scammed without any protection. And the main reason for this is their inattention and gullibility to strangers.

The image is generated by AI

So, here are some tips on how to protect yourself and not give away precious time of your life and earnings to those you don’t want to give it to.

  1. Always read carefully the Terms & Conditions of service. When creating an account and from time to time you always can reread it. Keep in mind all the sentences as they are written there and don’t think they don’t matter. They can close your account with the long-time earnings without any notifications or describing the reasons. (How Freelancer.com can do, for example). Terms & Conditions do matter and may cost you a lot of your personal money and time, just keep them in mind.
  2. Don’t share any working login information with clients. And when you must do any job on their websites, etc., ask them to create temporary accounts without access to sensitive private information. This way, you prevent yourself from to be blamed for anything connected with their private data security.
  3. Don’t accept any communications with your possible or accepted client outside a platform. Yes, these platforms have awkward messengers but use them as they are. All the logins, screenshots, links — anything must to be sent by this messenger. The other question is that you never know who on the platform have access to it except you and your client (read Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy again and again — platform staff may see all your sensitive info — just remember it), but it’s a demand. Platforms says that it’s for your security — you’ll never know what is your client’s real intentions and you’ll never prove your innocence to service in case of a dispute.
  4. Don’t accept or propose to use an outside payment system. You always violate the rules of any freelance service. And even if you are punk and go to this step you will lose any guarantee to be paid at all because your client’s soul is a mystery, you know.
  5. Don’t keep your earnings on the platform. Try to set up withdrawals as soon as possible. And withdraw your earnings as they are available to that.
  6. Don’t accept any direct propositions from clients. When you have a kind direct message to you be aware, suspicious, and a bit paranoid. It can be as a fake client account by your competitors or a scam or trying to ask you to work for free. Remember the projects/jobs section — there are almost 50+ proposals for each project. Freelancers struggle to be chosen for the job posting. You can receive a direct proposition only if you already have a positive rating or good reputation.
  7. Never use or share your own actual payment data (your card information or cryptocurrencies) to test clients’ websites or for other testing purposes. Even if they explain it. All the more so they insist on doing this. I think this point is clear without explanation.
  8. Don’t provide any results of the project without the frozen money on the service. The client will get what he needed and that’s all. He/she will not pay you. It’s a matter of a lot of people’s souls.
  9. Don’t pay for extra services which you did not initiate. The support of the platform may annoy you with follow-up messages that you need their “extra-super-mega” paid account. You don’t need it, don’t spend your hard-earned money on that. Only in case you really need it and initiated the payment by yourself.
  10. Ask your client to not separate one project onto several. It may look suspicious to the freelance platform.
  11. Try to stop your client to post too many good reviews to you — yes, it looks suspicious for the platform too.
  12. Don’t use a VPN to false your location. Never ever. Not when using a time tracker, nor for login to the platform via browser.
  13. Never try to cheat with legal documents. I think this point sounds clear.

And always remember — If you have any concerns about your freelancing platform or service you start to use, try to envestigate first the reputation of the service. The amount of good or bad reviews can help you to choose the best way to earn via freelance. And don’t forget to share not only your wins but some issues or trubles — you will help others not to step on the broken steps.

Keep safe and gooood luck with the freelancing. You’ve chosen a really hard way to get money for your bread, my little friend…

I hope that I bring any new sense to you today. If you have any questions or comments — feel free to share them with me and others.

Cheers, hugs (if needed), and all the best.

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Lera Gudmundsdottir K

Aspiring Entrepreneur, UX engineer. Helping developers with UX design tasks since 2006. Growing my pet fastredesign.com