Five Sloppy Habits that Can Hurt Your Design Business

by Laura Spencer

May 24, 2012 in Business/Freelance


Did you know that bad business habits can hurt your freelance design business?

It’s true, bad habits can keep you from earning to your full potential. They can also cost you money if they cause client dissatisfaction.

In this post, we’ll take a look at sloppy business habits you need to break. If you liked this post, you may also like 3 Freelancing “Bad Habits” That Cost You Money.

Habit #1: Not Asking for Testimonials

You finished the project and the client is thrilled. They’ve written you a nice thank-you letter for your work.

You probably think it’s time to move on, but you’re wrong! Now is the time, while the project is still fresh on your client’s mind, to ask for testimonials about your work.

Too many freelance web designers are hesitant to ask for testimonials. They may be too modest or they may simply forget. However, this is a mistake.

Good client testimonials can mean the difference between winning and losing a project.

Habit #2: Not Staying in Touch

Quick quiz–when was the last time you contacted your first client?

If they are still in business, you should be in regular contact with them as well as with all of your former clients. There are several reasons for this:

  • If they needed your web design skills once, they may need them again.
  • They may change positions and move to a new company that needs your skills.
  • They may learn of someone who could use your skills.

It’s easy to lose touch with people, but if you’re in business (and freelancing web design is a business) it’s not a good idea to lose touch with your clients.

Of course, you don’t want to harass them with daily emails, but there is usually no harm in checking in every month or so just to see how things are going. If you’re not doing this, you’re probably not getting all the business that you could be getting.

Habit #3: Not Keeping Adequate Business Hours

As a freelance web designer, you have no boss. There’s no time clock to punch when you start or finish work.

Sadly, some freelancers get into the bad habit of starting late and finishing early. Of course, this is fine if you are getting all of your work done and you are satisfied with your income.

Too often, however, freelancers procrastinate and don’t really allow themselves enough time to get the job done properly. This can lead to missed deadlines and/or sloppy work. All of which leads to unhappy clients in the end.

If this is you, quit it right now. Learn to manage your time well and make sure to allow enough time to do a good job on each project.

Habit #4: Not Keeping Your Home Office Clean

You’re rushing around–meeting deadlines and marketing your design business. It’s oh-so-easy to let housekeeping slip.

After all, your office is at home. It’s not like anyone ever sees where you work, right?

Well, there are at least three reasons why you should keep your home office neat:

  • Things get lost in a messy office. Where is that design book you bought, but never read? If your office is messy, it could be under any of those stacks of junk. Even worse, you might lose records you need for your business. Where are your copies of last year’s receipts? You need them for your taxes.
  • Someone may stop by. Just because you don’t usually have clients over to your office doesn’t mean that you can count on them never stopping by. What would your clients think if they saw your office right now? And don’t forget Google+ Hangouts and online conferences, where your messy office might be seen in the background.
  • A mess can be disheartening. If you look around and see nothing but piles of paper, you may become discouraged. You may work at less than your peak efficiency. Never mind that the piles are months (or maybe years) old. Having stacks of paper around will make you feel overwhelmed.

Habit #5: Not Being Careful About Your Social Networking

You never know who is looking at your social media profile. That’s why it is really important to watch what you say or do. Something that is funny to you and your close friends may be misunderstood by others.

Remember that what you share online can be shared and reshared. You won’t always be able to control who sees it. The final recipients may not be those you originally had in mind.

Your social media profile is part of your online reputation. For a freelance designer, reputation is everything. So, be extra careful about yours.

What Do You Think?

I’ve listed some sloppy habits that can hurt your web design business. Nearly all freelancers struggle with these habits every once in a while. But, be careful if you find yourself falling into one of these habits on a regular basis.

Did I miss any sloppy freelance habits? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by amishsteve

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Laura’s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.

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