By now, there has been a lot of good freelancing advice published. There’s certainly a lot more information available now about freelancing than there was when I made the transition to freelancing over ten years ago.
So, why are freelancers still making the same mistakes, over and over again? Why are they still saying “yes” to bad clients, when they should say “no?” Why are freelancers still charging less than they are worth? Why are they still working without contracts?
You’d think that by now most freelancers would know better, and the truth is that most actually do know better. But something gets in the way and keeps them from following all that good advice that they know is true.
I’m convinced that fear and desperation has a lot to do with it. If you really want to succeed at freelancing, you shouldn’t let yourself become too desperate or too fearful. Desperation and fear almost always lead to bad freelancing decisions.
The trick is to find out how to keep your fears from causing you to make mistakes. In this post, I share over eight ways to keep from giving in to freelancing fear.
What We Freelancers Are Afraid Of
There are some common fears that most freelancers face, at one time or another. Here are some of them:
- Not finding work. There is a lot of work out there, but many freelancers don’t know how to find it. They may rely on posted job ads or marketplaces, when in fact most jobs are never advertised.
- Running out of money. This is probably the biggest freelancing fear for most of us. Freelancing is often less stable than traditional employment. If you’ve been used to receiving a regular paycheck, freelancing requires a lifestyle and attitude adjustment.
- Being rejected or ridiculed. The client’s response to any project is somewhat of an unknown. Even if you know that you’ve done a fabulous job, there’s always a risk that the client might not like your work.
- Not Getting Paid. This fear is closely related to the second and third fears. If the client doesn’t like your work, they may refuse to pay you. If you don’t get paid, you may run out of money.
Of course, fear is as individual as the freelancer. You may face other fears as well.
Fear can lead to desperation, and desperation can lead to making a bad freelancing decision. That’s why it’s important to stop being afraid.
How to Stop Fear Before It Stops You
Fortunately, you don’t have to give in to your fears. Here are some safeguards you can put in place so that you don’t have to feel quite so afraid:
- Keep in touch with former clients. Too many of us complete a project for a client and then never talk to that client again. Former clients can be a good source of future projects or referrals.
- Live on less than you earn. If you are in a regular habit of putting some of your earnings into savings, you won’t feel quite so desperate for work when you hit a slow period.
- Start with savings in place. No, technically you don’t need to have savings to start freelancing, but I always recommend it. Having savings in place is like giving yourself a head start financially–and who wouldn’t want that?
- Market like a maniac, even when you are busy. One of the biggest causes of the freelancing feast or famine cycle is because we freelancers tend to stop marketing when we are busy with work.
- Always require new clients to pay part of your fee upfront. If you’ve hit a slow period, you may be tempted to take on a new client without requiring them to pay upfront just to get the work. Don’t do it.
- Do what it takes to bolster your confidence. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your abilities and what you are doing. Confident people tend to be less fearful. Besides, life is too short to surround yourself with negativity.
- Take a part-time job. Desperation for work can lead to taking on assignments that you know aren’t right for you. Before you know it, you’re trapped in a cycle of accepting mediocre work. A part-time job can help you weather the lean times.
- Trust your gut instinct. Do your homework about prospective clients, but in the end, trust your gut. More often than not, it will be right. If something feels wrong about a particular opportunity, that opportunity probably is wrong for you.
- Remind yourself that most freelancing fears don’t come true. And even if they do, it’s not usually the end of the world. If freelancing doesn’t work out, you can always move on and try something else.
How do you face your freelancing fears?
Image by mugley