Imagine this: It's 2015, and you've been given the incredible responsibility of hosting a massive global event… Miss Universe. Everything has been going uncannily well, and then it comes time to announce the winner.

Something so simple, so alarmingly simple, there is no way you could mess up and read the wrong name in front of a global audience on live television… Well, if you're Steve Harvey, you know it is absolutely possible!

As the host of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, Steve actually read the wrong name while announcing the winner, a mistake of global proportions… But guess what, everything worked out in the end.

Mistakes happen in every role we assume, whether it is in our freelancing day-to-day or our personal lives, they are bound to happen on occasion. What is important is how we manage those mistakes and learn from them. So, let's take a look at managing mistakes as a freelancer so you will be prepared if a mishap should occur!

Realize Your Mistake

Most of us have made mistakes in our professional careers, or at least know what it feels like to put out crappy work. If you're a freelancer—or even an employee on a creative team—you may feel that you are alone under the weight of your mistake. But the truth is, this feeling is an illusion. Everybody makes mistakes, and you can own up to them as a professional.

Creative professionals make their biggest mistakes behind closed doors—in an attempt to protect their clients from seeing what could be considered a weak link in the creative team. And while it's good practice to put forward your best foot at all times, there are many reasons why it's beneficial for creatives to embrace failure instead of letting it eat away at them secretly.

In fact, failure can actually help you become more successful. Studies show that making mistakes via trial and error can help progress and learning rather than hinder it. So, your first step to managing your mistakes is to own them and move forward!

Stay Calm

This might seem obvious, but if you have made a mistake you have to remain calm. There are always going to be common client issues that you need to be prepared to manage.

As a freelancer, you are the face of your business. Your clients will look to you for stability and confidence, so if you come to them with a mistake in a frazzled state, it is going to make them uneasy.

Instead, take a moment to collect yourself and evaluate the mistake. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is this an easy fix?
  • How and when did this happen?
  • What is the best way to approach the situation?
  • Do I need to involve the client to resolve this issue?

If you take a moment to assess the situation before going full-panic, you might realize that the mistake you made isn't as catastrophic as you initially thought. The fact is, 80% of people feel stressed during work, so you're not alone. What is important is managing the situation to avoid worsening the mistake and making sure you don't pass the stress to your client!

Create an Action Plan

After you have taken a moment to calm down and evaluate the situation, it's time to create an action plan. This is the second most important part of managing a mistake made as a freelance worker. You need to be proactive about resolving your mistake or there is no point in owning up to it.    

If the mistake you made is simple and can be fixed in a few minutes, great. Fix it and move forward. But if the mistake you made was bigger, like sending out wrong files to a client who needs them for another project, then perhaps involving your client in the solution is necessary. Keep in mind that some mistakes might result in needing to provide a refund, so be prepared to handle that possibility with poise. 

Regardless of whether or not you need to involve the person who hired you for this job, make sure to write down what happened and how it can be avoided next time. You could realize that in order for this scenario to never occur again, there need to be safeguards in place for the project, so keep notes of every step you take to come to the solution. 

Learn From Your Mistake 

Once you have successfully recovered from making your mistake, it is time to learn from it. The final step in managing mistakes made as a freelancer is to put together a plan of action on what you are going to do differently next time. Consider it the 'never again' plan!

The best thing about having a 'never again' plan is that you aren't just trying not to make the same mistake—you're also giving yourself more room for success!

Think about it; if there were things about your work process that contributed to your making this mistake then avoiding them means every project will be easier and quicker than you expected. Not only have you improved your work process, but you have also reassured yourself of future success.

Making mistakes as a freelancer is inevitable, so the best thing to do is embrace them! You can't avoid them completely, even if you want to. Instead of allowing your mistakes to eat away at you privately, talk about them with others who freelance to get feedback on how to improve.

And remember that owning up to a mistake is better for business than letting it fester in secrecy. If the mistake was small enough, don't hesitate from fixing it on the spot. But if it's too big to handle on your own, make sure your client knows what happened and knows that you have new safeguards in place to avoid another issue in the future.

Managing Mistakes as a Freelancer

So what have we learned? Mistakes happen! Managing mistakes as a freelancer is just a part of the job!

Use these tips to help you stay on top of your mistakes, and don't be afraid to reach out for help should you need it. Also, don't forget that you're not alone! When you freelance with FreeUp, our team is always here to help you succeed, so never hesitate to reach out for assistance!