By Jonathan London on 16th April 2014

5 freelance mistakes to avoid

Most freelancers choose self-employment because they love the freedom and flexibility it offers. But they come at a price if you fall prey to the classic freelancing traps. Here are five freelance mistakes to avoid.

1 – Procrastination

Working alone offers excellent opportunities to procrastinate. Putting awkward tasks off until tomorrow can be tempting – especially if the sun is shining and your dog/mountain bike/surfboard is screaming, ‘let’s play!’ at you in the full knowledge that you will crack.

Trouble is, when tomorrow comes, something unforeseen and highly urgent will probably need doing by lunchtime, pushing all your scheduled tasks back and piling on the pressure to complete two days’ work in one.

2 – Putting all your eggs in one basket

As a freelancer one of the greatest advantages you have is the freedom to work with whoever you wish. This means you can protect yourself against the loss of one source of income by developing productive relationships with several clients simultaneously. That said, beware of conflicts of interest and stick to the terms of any non-disclosure agreements you sign.

3 – Forgetting to pursue new business

When your workload is full and the money is flowing in, it’s easy to forget about what happens when the contract finishes. Failure to keep your marketing efforts going is a sure way to turn a purple patch into a barren spell. Keep promoting yourself – even when you’re working flat out on a lucrative project.

4 – Assuming all your expenses are tax deductible

Many’s the freelancer who has gone on a wanton spending spree in the belief that he can ‘put it through the business.’ It doesn’t work like that. For expenses to be tax deductible, they have to pass the HMRC ‘Wholly and Exclusively’ test. In short, they must have been incurred in full for business purposes only – and even then there are limits and restrictions as to what and how much you can claim. Mug up before you splash out.

5 – Leaving yourself short for your tax bill

If you’re new to freelancing, remember that tax and national insurance won’t have been deducted from the payments you receive. Assuming your earnings will exceed your tax-free threshold, you will have to make payments to HMRC in January and July each year. Put around 20 – 25% of your income in a high interest savings account to avoid any nasty shocks (you never know, the interest might stand you a curry!).

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

Was this article helpful?


Although we attempt to ensure that the Information contained in this publication is accurate and up-to-date at the date of publication it may not be comprehensive, we accept no liability for the results of any action taken on the basis of the information they contain and any implied warranties, including but not limited to the implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement and accuracy are excluded to the extent that they may be excluded as a matter of law.

Share this blog

Download our
FREE guide

Our handy guide to claiming expenses through your limited company looks at what you can and can’t claim tax relief on through your company

Please enter a First Name

Please enter a Last Name

Please enter a valid Email Address

Please enter a valid Mobile/Phone Number

Data protection: We take data very seriously and will not share your details with anyone else. If you wish to receive marketing communications from Boox please tick this box.

You can change your preferences at any stage by clicking on the 'Manage my preferences' link at the bottom of our emails. By continuing, you agree to our Privacy Policy.

How would you like to receive communications?


Select Yes or No


Select Yes or No


Select Yes or No


Select Yes or No
Please Verify Captcha

View our latest blogs

Take a look at our recent blogs below.

We’re here to help

Discuss your business and accountancy
needs in detail with our friendly team with
absolutely no obligation.

Call our friendly team on 0808 168 0422 or

Request a call back

(Open 8.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday)

Emily Ewin New Client Manager
Emily Ewin New Client Manager