In a previous post here at WWD, Mike Gunderloy made a list of some common mistakes made by new web workers. I wouldn’t be surprised if most first-time teleworkers have committed at least one of those mistakes throughout their careers. I know that out of Mike’s list, I’ve committed two.
However, it’s not just newbies who are prone to making mistakes. Even web workers with years of practice have their own weaknesses and faults. What are they and how do we avoid them?
Losing sight of industry news. Since internet technology has such a rapid turnover (today’s hot app is tomorrow’s time sink), it’s easy to get lost. However, there’s a line between simply not following trends and losing sight of your industry’s developments altogether. You need to know the current tools, techniques, and methods to help you work well within the standards at any given time.
Examples of web workers making this mistake are internet marketers who haven’t taken advantage of social networking yet, or web designers who aren’t expanding their skills (for example, knowing only HTML and no other languages or content management systems).
The simplest way to get around this problem is to subscribe to a couple of major blogs in your industry. You don’t have to read all their new content, but scanning through updates when you have the time will allow you to keep abreast of what’s happening in your field.
Not having a backup plan. This usually stems from getting too comfortable with web working, often with freelancers. Although there’s no denying that people can be very successful with it, some of those successes are short-lived, while others have the occasional “low period” where they lose a big client, or sales are generally slow for certain months.
Keeping yourself afloat during tough times shouldn’t prove to be too hard if you’ve already had some amount of success. There are several ways to avoid financial trouble and professional boredom, should you lose your primary work. First, you can diversify your income either through passive income or capitalizing on other skills. Another option is to keep an emergency fund that contains 3 to 6 months’ worth of your living expenses – a handy resource should you have a drastic change in income.
Forgetting about the competition. Just because you’re currently a rock star, it doesn’t mean that newer, more talented people won’t be coming along in the future. Again, this comes from being too comfortable with your success, thinking that if you’re one of the best now, you’ll still be one of the best in a decade. This might be true, but not if you lose your competitive streak. Losing your fighting, competitive form might make you miss some opportunities and projects that require a bit of assertiveness.
The key is to have and market a quality that only you (or very few people) have within your niche. Is it your visual style? Is it your outspoken, sarcastic voice? Is it your personality? The competition will try to duplicate you, but since your differentiation is based on something very integral to who you are, your competitors won’t even get anywhere near the quality you provide – even if they try to clone you.
Also, be aware of colleagues, “fans”, and new web workers who are finding their way into your niche. Whenever a new web worker in your field is getting the praise and attention of your target market, don’t just shrug it off as a fad. Study your new competition, if only to verify your own uniqueness.
These are just three simple mistakes that the experienced web worker makes. I guess success, even in small doses, sometimes gives people a sense of security that prevents them from seeing possible threats along the way. As web workers, we should just always be aware of how dynamic and unpredictable our line of work tends to be.
Are there any more mistakes you can think of? What can we do to avoid them?