“I Forgot to Invoice…Again” and Other Confessions of a Freelancer

Miscommunication occurs more often than we’d like to think, and some occasions can lead to costly business errors. We asked freelancers on a variety of platforms about their biggest “Oops!” moments. The results may surprise you.

Let’s look at a few freelance mistakes or blunders to avoid. File these under #LFMF – Learn From My Fail.

“I Forgot to Bill my Client”

Forgetting to send an invoice is bad, but forgetting to send the invoice and then sending a good client an urgent reminder to pay is even worse. One freelancer reveals,

“I sent a client a quick email accusing them of ignoring my invoice. I was being impatient and demanding. I then discovered that I had forgotten to invoice them for my services.”

“I Forgot to Get a Payment Upfront”

You know who doesn’t have to chase clients for money? The freelancer who gets paid in advance. Setting up a strict policy of advance payment for projects — or requiring an upfront deposit — can save you headaches, heartache and embarrassment in the future.

“I was a freelancer for over 10 years. My print magazine clients reliably paid on time. Once I began finding clients online, though, it became a lot more difficult to collect from slow paying buyers before I figured out that I couldn’t afford to work on spec or even begin a project without getting paid in advance.”

“The Correct Words Escaped Me”

When I sent out a call for help on Twitter and Help a Reporter Out (HARO), an overwhelming number of respondents recalled embarrassing word-choice errors that made it to print. If you accidentally type the wrong word, but spell it correctly, spellcheck won’t save you.

Freelance writers came clean about accidental word choices, from recommending readers thoroughly vet  a “primate” school instead of “private” school, to substituting “impotent” for “important” in an article about men’s health. A quick reread can save you from these errors, but the basic spellcheck in Word can’t, as these pros were quick to share.

Word choice errors meet technology when it comes to voice recognition software. Many freelance writers opt for software that converts the spoken word to text, then simply review and send the “finished” piece off to the client. When the software misbehaves, though, there is plenty of room for error.

“I Called the Client by the Wrong Name. Repeatedly.”

Saying the wrong name is a common“Oops!” for freelancers, from the designer who sent a romantic email message to her client (who shared the same first name as her husband) to the writer who completed an entire website’s worth of content using the name of a competitor, instead of the name of his client — a costly and embarrassing mistake.

“Stating a Price without Full Details”

No matter what field you’re in, you’ve likely done this at least once. Agreeing to work without fully understanding and outlining the details of a project can lead to huge issues, resulting in an embarrassing hourly wage. A successful freelance product description writer reveals how one of her first jobs resulted in a 30-cents-per-hour rate by the time the project was completed.

She agreed to write descriptions for a client’s jewelry site, without checking just how many products there actually were. By the time she forged ahead and completed the first hundred or so, she knew she was in over her head. 950 descriptions later, the project was complete after hours and hours of extra writing and revising.

Offering a price without truly understanding the work involved has led to disaster for plenty of other new freelancers as well, judging from the many variations on this story we received!

We all make mistakes, but forgetting to send an invoice (or misdirecting an invoice) shouldn’t be one of them. Choosing an easy invoicing solution like Viewpost can take the some of the “Oops!” out of freelancing for most of us.


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