The Psychology Behind Successful Freelancing

No matter what we tell you about how to become a successful freelancer, the fact remains that a lot of what it takes to succeed comes from inside of you.

Of course, we readily acknowledge a few of the ways that freelancing affects our psyches. For example, we’ve written a boatload of materials about stress. We’ve also written a lot about loneliness.

But stress and loneliness are not the only ways that freelancing affects us. (Of course, we’ll continue to write about stress and loneliness from time to time because those are very real problems that affect a lot of people.)

In this post, however, we’ll cover some of the less discussed psychological aspects of freelancing. We’ll also look at how freelancing can really affect your outlook on life. As you review these mental struggles that we all face as freelancers, I think you’ll come to agree with me that we freelancers are a unique breed.

Freelancers and Security

We freelancers can’t count on much.

You’ve heard of job security, right? Well, freelancers don’t have it. And job security is just one type of security that freelancers don’t have.

For most employees, if they lose their job at least they know that they’ll probably be given some sort of severance package. For a freelancer, however, when the work is done they are out of a job.

Of course, the lack of job security can also lead to a lack of financial security for freelancers. A successful freelancer can’t afford to live from paycheck to paycheck. They’ve got to set something extra aside for those times they won’t be getting a paycheck.

However, not having these common factors that many people rely on to feel secure actually strengthens most freelancers. They develop strategies (such as saving and continually marketing) so that they can rely more on themselves and less on an employer.

Freelancers and Flexibility

While everyone must eventually deal with change, keeping up with changes in technology and in his or her field is what makes a freelancer marketable. A freelancer has to be ready to learn new things.

Also, remember that the people a freelancer must deal with changes constantly as they move from project to project.

All of these changes mean that freelancers learn to be very flexible if they’re going to last. In the end, the ability to adjust to and manage change is a strength that a freelancer can apply to every aspect of their life.

Freelancers and Confidence

Some people say that freelancers are risk-takers, but I tend to disagree.

Yes, there is some risk inherent in starting a new business, but a true risk-taker often takes unreasonable chances. A good freelancer doesn’t. Instead, he or she studies the odds of success and then charts out the path most likely to succeed.

Rather than call that risk-taking behavior, I would call it confidence. And it does take confidence to succeed as a freelancer. It takes confidence to launch a new business. It takes confidence to sell a product or service. It takes confidence to keep going day after day without the encouragement of a staff or manager.

So, even a freelancer isn’t confident at first, he or she usually develops a confidence in his or her abilities.

Which brings me to another psychological trait common to successful freelancers . . .

Freelancers and Persistence

Successful freelancers are nothing, if not persistent.

Talk to any freelancer who has been around for more than a few years and surprisingly you’ll notice that most of them have their stories of failures as well as successes. That’s because a defining characteristic for most freelancers is the ability to stick with it.

The freelancers who succeed don’t quit. It’s just that simple. In fact, sometimes sticking with it is the main difference between a freelancer who makes it and one who does not.

Persistence is not a bad trait, though. Persistence learned from freelancing can keep freelancers from giving up too soon in other areas of their life.

Freelancers and Drive

Finally, it takes a lot of drive to be a freelancer. For whatever reason, you have to want it. I mean really want it.

The forces that drive freelancers vary, but without a driving force to keep them going most freelancers just won’t make it.

Again, like so many of the other psychological aspects of freelancing, drive can’t really be taught. It’s simply there, or it isn’t. As a matter fact, drive is a leadership quality that freelancers share with many other successful people throughout history.

Your Turn

As you can see from this post, there’s more to winning at freelancing than meets the eye. Freelancing is not just working from home in your pajamas.

What’s inside of you that makes you want to be a successful freelancer? What keeps you going?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Sweet Evie