10 Marks of a Self-Disciplined Freelancer

You’re a freelancer. You’re creative. You’re innovative. You’re flexible. You’re tech savvy. But are you disciplined?

If you think that you can succeed as a freelancer without self-discipline, think again.

Self-discipline is one the most important traits a freelancer can have. It can mean the difference between completing a job and blowing a deadline. It can carry you through those tough freelancing experiences like rejection, stress, or the feast or famine cycle.

In this post, I share ten marks of a self-disciplined freelancer. You can use this list as a checklist to determine what your level of self-discipline is and what areas you need to work on.

Are You Self-Disciplined Enough?

Do you have the self-discipline you need to see you through the difficult times of freelancing? The truth is that many people do not.

Check the list below to find out where you stand in terms of self-discipline:

  1. You work nearly every day, whether you feel like it or not. Unfortunately, there’s a popular myth out there that freelancers need only work when they feel like it. It’s true that freelancing does offer some flexibility of work hours. However, if you’re really going to make a living as a freelancer you need to be willing to work whether you feel like it that day, or not.
  2. You don’t spend every penny you make when you make it. Most seasoned freelancers understand that freelancing income can be irregular. There are some months when you’ll earn more money than others. The disciplined freelancer knows to put money aside during the prosperous months so that he or she will have enough for the slow months.
  3. You market your freelancing business even when you’re busy. Marketing is what keeps the clients coming to your freelance business. If you’re really busy with project work, it can be very tempting to stop marketing your freelance services. However, experienced freelancers know that the best time to get a new freelancing project is before you complete your current project.
  4. You take the time to learn new freelancing skills. As an employee, you may have had access to regular staff training and other professional resources. As a freelancer, it’s up to you to make sure that you stay current in your field. A freelancer with self-discipline will carve out time in his or her busy schedule to make sure that their skills are up to date.
  5. You’re willing to accept work you don’t like, if needed. While no one can force you to take a particular freelancing project, there are many times when it is benefits you to accept a project you don’t really like. It can help you make inroads with a desirable client or just help you to make ends meet during a particularly slow period.
  6. You refrain from ranting about your clients and colleagues in public forums. It can be tempting (and cathartic) to use social media, your blog, online forums, and other public sites to rant about your latest frustrations about your client or your project. Unfortunately, public rants can irreparably harm your reputation as a freelancer.
  7. You don’t quit. Sticking with it, even when times are rough is a sign of a self-disciplined freelancer. Most freelancers who quit, quit too soon–just before they were about to experience real success. If you want to succeed as a freelancer, don’t be a quitter.
  8. You take care of your health. Freelancers, in particular, face a lot of temptations to neglect their health. You may be tempted to skimp on health insurance or skip a doctor visit to save money. You may sit long hours in front of the computer without moving. And the refrigerator (for snacking) is right around the corner. Remember, health is one of your most important assets.
  9. You can admit you’re wrong and you fix your mistakes. It takes a big person to admit that they are wrong. If you are able to do this, you will win the respect of your colleagues and clients. Remember, everybody makes a mistake now and then. When it happens to you, the right thing to do is to fix it quickly and without fuss.
  10. You don’t take criticism personally. As a freelancer, you’re bound to face some criticism and rejection. Not everyone is going to love your freelancing business or your work. While you can’t always please everyone, handling criticism in a professional and positive way is a mark of a truly self-disciplined freelancer.

Your Turn

There you have it. A list of traits that point to a self-disciplined freelancing life. How did you stack up?

Don’t worry if you didn’t have all ten marks. You can work on improving the areas where you are weak.

Are you a self-disciplined freelancer?

Share your tips and thoughts about freelancing self-discipline in the comments.

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