10 Steps to a Client-Winning Mindset

We can read freelancing advice all day long, but the truth is that when you are a freelancer–your mindset is everything.

Your mindset determines the difference between reading advice and following advice. It’s the difference between doing a good job and doing a lousy job. And finally, your mindset can be the difference between quitting and persevering (and ultimately succeeding).

A bad attitude is a freelancer’s biggest obstacle and a good attitude is their biggest asset.

In this post, I’ll list ten steps to help you get a client-winning mindset for your freelancing business.

Get the Right Attitude

Did you ever wonder why some extremely talented freelancers fail while others, with just a moderate amount of talent, succeed?

The answer is that successful freelancers have the right mindset.

Here are some steps to take to make sure that you have the kind of mindset that wins clients rather than the mindset that drives them away.

  1. Care about your client. This is where a good, client-winning mindset starts. Your client is a real person and his or her business has real needs. Take the time to understand both your client and your client’s needs. Believe me, your client can tell when you don’t care and if your client knows that you don’t care they won’t be your client for long.
  2. Care about your work. This is a slight variation of caring about the client. You also need to care about your work. Whether you receive credit for your work or not, everything you do should be something that you would be proud to put your name on. If you’re not proud of your work, you’ve done something wrong. Successful freelancers don’t just “get by” with minimum effort.
  3. Do what you say you’re going to do. This sounds simple, but it’s not. There are so many freelancers (and others) who don’t live up to their promises. Being the reliable one will instantly set you apart. Of course, this also means that you should be careful what you promise. Never promise something if you know that you can’t deliver it.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Too many projects have sunk because the freelancer was afraid to ask a simple question. We think that asking a question will make us sound dumb, but making a mistake that could have been avoided by asking a question is even dumber. The best freelancers know what questions to ask and when to ask them.
  5. Keep up. As a successful freelancer, you need to keep up: both with your workload and with changes in your field. This is all part of caring about your work and caring about your clients. If you don’t keep up, you won’t be able to provide good service. Do what it takes. Take classes. Read books and blogs. Practice and study your profession.
  6. Stop apologizing. You’re not doing a favor by apologizing to your client for things that require no apology. Many freelancers (and I count myself among them sometimes) have a bad habit of saying “sorry” when no sorry is needed. Don’t apologize for your fees, for being too busy to take a rush job, or for needing more information from your client.
  7. Stop wasting time. There are a lot of fascinating things out there, and that’s especially true of online resources. It’s easy to justify doing things that are actually a waste of time. If you’re doing something for your freelancing business make sure that it will ultimately either improve your skills or bring you clients.
  8. Remember your profit margin. The reason that you’re in business is to earn a profit. To determine whether you’re earning a profit, you’re going to have to learn to manage your money well and keep good records. Know which clients have paid and which invoices are overdue. Keep an accurate record of business expenses and keep up with taxes.
  9. Promote your business. All businesses need to engage in marketing and your freelancing business is no different. Yet we freelancers slink around as though we are above marketing ourselves. We are not. Get in the habit of promoting your freelancing business. Pass out business cards. Get active in social media. Make sure that people know what you do.
  10. Encourage repeat business. Your best customers are the ones who keep coming back. You know that your customers are happy if they keep asking for more products and services. Find out what it is makes your customers happy and keep doing those things. Hint: this step is almost impossible to carry out unless you have excellent communication with your clients.

Your Turn

Now that we’ve shared some steps to help you find and maintain a professional attitude, it’s your turn.

How do you keep a business mindset?

Share your tips in the comments.

Image by candescent


  1. says

    This post was very informational Laura, and I have to say that step 7 about wasting time is so true. It is so easy to waste hours out of the week doing something that really is of no benefit to building your business. Social Media can be a time suck if not monitored for effectiveness, but in the same regard its great for networking with peers as well as clients. However, I do agree, as you mentioned in step 9, that sometimes its best to just get out there, meet some new people, handout a few business cards and network the old fashioned way. And truly show that you value steps 1 and 2 greatly.

  2. says

    Important points, all of them, Laura. The underlying theme of having a good attitude definitely lays the foundation for the 10 specific points you mentioned.

    I think I’d add that a successful freelancer must practice authentic self-awareness. Freelancers must know their strengths and weaknesses, then draw appropriate levels of confidence from their strengths. They should diligently work on their known weaknesses and also feel encouraged (which turns into confidence) that they’re actively tackling their soft spots.

    Don’t do anything you must apologize for — then you won’t need to do it.

  3. says

    Samantha Gluck, Great addition! You definitely need to know your strengths and weaknesses to be an effective freelancer. If you don’t, you’re likely to promise something you can’t do–which won’t win you any clients. :)

  4. says

    Thanks, Laura! Likewise, if you don’t know your strengths as well as the depth and scope of those strengths, you’re likely to downplay yourself, which reads as a lack of confidence to the client. When a client senses a lack of confidence (whether you mean to project it or not), he isn’t likely to hire you, or if he does, he’ll probably ask for a cut-rate.

  5. says

    It’s essential to treat freelancing as a business. With such an approach, you can retain clients and find new customers. One of the keys for freelancing success, I think, is taking projects in fields you have the most skill and experience. For all these and more a right mindset is the driver, which you have excellently highlighted in your post. Thank you!

  6. says

    I remember a saying…it goes something like this ‘…you are your greatest enemy…’.
    You couldn’t have summed it up better Laura. Clients can easily spot a phoney. LIke-wise if you’re a simple, honest fellow being, doesn’t matter if you appear lame asking too many questions, clients will actually appreciate that you take a deep interest in their business and probably hire you on the spot, even if you admit you’re new and lack some experience.

  7. says

    Samantha, Great point. Confidence is important.

    Thanks Sid! If you expect to fail at freelancing, you probably will. Like you said, mindset is important. :)

    Morgan & Me Creative–Being a phony is a big red flag in my book. Too many so-called gurus advise people to pretend and I think that’s bad. In most cases, you can be professional and be yourself (and you should).

  8. says

    I would add to the list having a hobby or something you can do to not only escape, but more importantly, recharge. After all, you can only go go go so much before getting burnt out. Being able to step out and take a look at the big picture can help to better dive back in for any specific new problem or opportunity, your freshly born don quixote endeavor.

    Maybe having a hobby such as music, reading, painting or even taking a walk somewhere without distractions to clear the head a bit. Once a day or even a week can be a big help in keeping things balanced and positive.

  9. says

    Yes soooo true but so hard to apply. Most especially number 8: remember your profit margins. For freelancers it is so easy to give in to clients requests for discounts (since we work from home and have almost no overhead costs) to the point where it may be better working at starbucks.

    Thanks for the great post !

  10. says

    I have lost two projects in two days…and its time for some retrospect…few points especially 1 to 5 are really somthing to ponder… Thanks Laura and keep writing

  11. says

    Loads of sound advice, thanks! One thing I might add is “stick to what you know & know when to say, no, or to refer the business”. I am frequently asked to do things in areas that are not my forte. 9 times out of 10 I will know someone who has much more expertise than me and so I refer the business.

    I see this as a win-win-win situation. My client wins because they get the best person for the job. The connection who delivers the business wins because they get the business. Finall,y I win because not only has my client got the best person for the job but I have helped a fellow free-lancer!

  12. says

    Point 1 is, for me, the most important because if you do care about your client, everything else will follow. You’re definitely right about the client knowing whether you care about them or not. It will show in the work you produce.
    There are so many things that I try to keep in mind to make sure I don’t become a freelancer that only gets seasonal projects. The only problem is that by trying to remember and do a lot of things, I sometimes forget about paying attention to what the client really needs and, as a result, leads to forgetting to care for them.
    Thanks Laura for reminding us what we need to do. As always, a great post!

  13. says

    I am a freelancer working for more than 3 years. But dude, these tips are really helpful for us to increase our ability to make relationships with our clients which long last.
    Keep up the good work.


  1. […] We can read freelancing advice all day long, but the truth is that when you are a freelancer–your mindset is everything. Your mindset determines the difference between reading advice and following advice. It’s the difference between doing a good job and doing a lousy job. And finally, your mindset can be the difference between quitting and persevering (and ultimately succeeding). Direct Link […]

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