Everyone comes to a point in their life where they feel like a failure. Nothing seems to go right, does it? It’s even worse when the failure has to do with your freelance business, as that means everything in your life is in jeopardy–from the mortgage to putting food on the table.
So what do we do when we begin to get the tugging feeling that things aren’t going quite so well? What if we’re already at the brink of quitting?
Everyone fails at something, but the trick is to keep trying to make it a success. No one is a failure until they give up, and there’s always a way to learn from your mistakes and turn the issue into success.
Figure It Out
The first thing you need to do is to figure out why you feel like a failure. Are there real issues in your business, or are you just feeling the normal anxiety of periodic issues and slowdowns that come with freelancing?
What you need to do is to step back, take a breathe and assess your business. If you’re feeling a slow down, perhaps now is the time to update your portfolio and work on some new marketing efforts. When was the last time you sent out some guest articles or helped someone out on Twitter? Instead of sitting around during the slow times, take the time to get your name out there, as the slow down could just be the result of you being too busy to keep up with the community.
If you’re to the point where you’re getting ready to default on bills, now may be the time to break out the emergency fund (you do have one, right?). This is the time where freelancer start to question their decision to go it alone and wonder whether they should begin looking for a new job.
Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.
– Zig Ziglar
Continue to Risk or Find a Job?
I’ve heard plenty of stories from people who left freelancing for a full-time job because they couldn’t “find” work. If you really decide that you hate freelancing, then great, go back to a regular job. Some people just don’t like working on their own and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If, however, the reason you’re contemplating going back to a job because “you have no choice,” then I caution against it. Sure, a job can bring about a steady paycheck, but there’s really nowhere to go from there. All of the advantages you get from freelancing just don’t exist at a job.
If you’re having issues finding work, it’s not because there’s a shortage of it. It’s because you’re looking in all of the wrong places. I’ve had developers who do the exact same thing as me and charge less complain that they have no work, when I’ve had so much I’ve had to give some away. How then, are the clients getting lost between us?
I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to not make a light bulb.
– Thomas Edison
Assess What You’re Doing Wrong
If you’re feeling the pinch of no work, you need to figure out quickly what you’re doing wrong. If what you’re currently doing isn’t working, it’s time to explore other options. Have you been looking around town for clients? Perhaps it’s time to hop on the web and look for clients in other states and countries. There are so many ways to find new clients, depending on the ones you want. I always suggest choosing a type of client and marketing to them only. You can decide to work with only small businesses, only with food industry businesses, only with agencies or any type of client you’d like. Find out who needs you and go after them.
Think also about the kind of work you’re doing. Is it something that’s in demand? Do your skills need to be polished? No one wants to hire someone who produces work that looks like it was made in the 80’s, so take an active role in keeping up with the new skills and trends in your industry. Try to learn something new and see if it takes off. Perhaps, you’re just offering the wrong thing to potential clients.
What about your portfolio? Is it up to date and easily navigable? Are you even listed on Google yet? Or would it take someone scrolling through 500,000 search pages before they came to your site?
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The secret to being a successful freelancer is an easy one to remember, but the hardest thing to do. Be found. That’s it. Everything after that is just using common sense by offering great service. The majority of clients for freelancers usually come from referrals, or from their name being mentioned several times, whether on Twitter, Facebook or through blog posts. Make sure people are talking about you, otherwise you risk becoming obsolete.
Remember, if you’re just starting out, it takes time to be known. It took me a full two months when I first started to have steady work. It took a year or so of being active on Twitter and writing articles for several popular blogs before I started getting the “we’ve seen you everywhere!” kind of work.
The secret of success is consistency of purpose.
– Benjamin Disraeli
Stop Making Yourself a Failure
Turning your failure around into a success isn’t hard, you just have to change your attitude. Stop blaming your failures on everything else but yourself. It isn’t the economy, it isn’t your computer, it isn’t your family. It’s you. The sooner you realize you are in complete control of yourself, you’ll realize it really isn’t that hard to go out there and be successful. You may never get to be famous, but who cares?
Success is being happy with your work and able to pay your bills
What have you failed at in life? How did you overcome it?
Image by fireflythegreat