Are Freelancing Expectations Keeping You from Your Ultimate Success?

No matter what your freelancing specialty is, I think it’s fair to say that we all entered freelancing with a certain set of expectations. Of course, your expectations were most likely different mine.

If you’ve been freelancing for any significant length of time, you probably already realize that there are some differences between your expectations before you were a freelancer and your actual experience as a freelancer. In the past, we’ve done a really good job at comparing common freelancing expectations with the reality of freelancing.

In this post, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to explain why your freelancing expectations may be keeping you from success and why you should let those old expectations go.


One Positive Factor About Expectations

Before we totally dismiss your freelancing expectations, I think it’s only fair to admit that your expectations may be what motivated you to become a freelancer in the first place. If you enjoy freelancing, then it’s definitely a positive factor that something gave you enough courage to strike out on your own. If that something happens to be an expectation, so be it.

But, there comes a time for many freelancers when they have face down those same expectations that spurred them into freelancing in the first place so that they can move forward.

6 Reasons to Move Beyond Your Initial Expectations

After you’ve been freelancing for a while, you may find that you need to face your initial unrealistic expectations and make a course adjustment to replace them with a more realistic perspective. Here are six reasons why:

  1. Unfair comparisons. You may have started out in freelancing by comparing yourself to another freelancer. You may have expected that your freelancer career would progress the same way that their career did. Without any other information, that comparison may have been the only thing you had to base your early decisions on. However, every freelancer’s experience is a little bit different. Once you have some experience, it’s important to be fair to yourself and base your decisions on your own experiences.
  2. Incomplete information. When you started freelancing, you didn’t really know what it would be like…and that’s okay. Your first decisions and goals as a freelancer were most likely based on incomplete information. This means that you may have actually overlooked opportunities when you started out simply because you weren’t aware of them or didn’t know that you had the abilities to pursue them. Once you’ve been freelancing for a while, you will have better information about freelancing opportunities.
  3. Changing environment. One thing about the freelancing environment is that it is constantly changing. Almost every month, new tools become available for the freelancer. This is true regardless of your freelancing profession. Also, as the tools change, the demand for freelancing services changes. What clients expected from their freelancer five years ago is not what clients expect from their freelancer today. If you’re in freelancing for the long-term, it’s important for your freelancing business to keep up with the changing freelance environment.
  4. The unforeseen. Let’s face it. No matter how much research you did before you became a freelancer, there’s always at least one thing that comes up (once you’ve actually started) that you had never thought about. It’s the unforeseen events that often threaten the success of your projects (especially if you have no Plan B). However, as you gain freelancing experience you will start to accumulate a list of these possible unforeseen events and develop a possible plan for handling each of them.
  5. Underestimates. At first, nearly every freelancer struggles with underestimating either the time required for a project, the cost involved, or both. It’s a rare freelancer that understands how to accurately schedule his or her time and the cost involved with a project when they are first starting out. Most freelancers expect projects to be much easier than they actually are. However, like some of these other reasons for moving beyond your initial expectations, this is something that usually improves as you gain experience.
  6. Frustration and resentment. If you’re still stuck trying to apply the original set of expectations that you operated under when you first became a freelancer, you may be feeling a bit frustrated. You may even be feeling a bit of resentment. That’s perfectly understandable because, while those initial expectations may have been the best information you had at one time, many of them are no longer valid.

What About You?

Are you still trying to live up to your original expectations that you had when you started freelancing? If so, it may be time to adjust your expectations to take into consideration what you’ve learned.

Share some of the expectations you had when you started out as a freelancer in the comments.

Image by jurvetson