Why You Can’t Afford to Be an Undercover Freelancer

I love detective movies. I really do.

There’s nothing more thrilling than when the detective goes undercover by blending in with the bad guys.

You spend the rest of the movie holding your breathe to see whether the hero gets caught or catches the bad guys.

Going undercover makes for great entertainment. Unfortunately, going undercover isn’t so great if you’re a freelancer.

You see, as a freelancer, the absolute last thing you want to do is blend in with everybody else. You can’t hide your talent and succeed.

In this post, I’ll discuss the importance of standing out and also present a fun quiz that may show whether you’re acting like an undercover freelancer.

Why You Need to Be Different

The Internet is overwhelmed with freelancers. Nobody seems to know exactly how many there are, but everybody seems to agree that their numbers are growing.

What this means for you is competition–and lots of it.

The thing is, your prospects are basically lazy. That’s not a personal judgment about them so much as it is an observation. They don’t have the time or energy to really weed through hundreds freelancers just to find you and figure out why you’re special.

Your prospect doesn’t have the time, so you need to make it easy for them to find you and figure out why you’re different. But that won’t happen if you’re an undercover freelancer, just trying to blend in with everyone else.

You need to let friends, family, and everyone else know that you’re freelancing and that you’re the best at what you do. Going undercover as a freelancer doesn’t work.

Are You Undercover?

You could be an undercover freelancer and not even realize it.

Here’s a quick quiz to help you find out.

A. You’re at a dinner party listening to another guest drone on and on about their job. Suddenly, the guest turns to you and asks, “So, what do you do for a living?” You:

  1. Choke, mutter something incomprehensible under your breath and hope the conversation moves to a different topic quickly.
  2. Use the earlier conversation to segue into a brief explanation of what you do for your clients and how you could help your companion’s company.
  3. Say, “I work for…” and name your latest client as your employer.

B. Your kid’s teacher calls and says that he is trying to get stay-at-home parents involved. He asks if you can commit to chaperoning the kids for lunch several days a week. You:

  1. Grit your teeth and agree to help even though it will cut into your work time. After all, it’s your kid’s school asking and how could you say no?
  2. Politely explain that your heavy workload as a small business owner doesn’t give you the luxury of taking several hours off a week.
  3. Pretend like he has reached a wrong number and hang up as quickly as possible.

C. Which of the following describes your marketing strategy?

  1. If a lot of other freelancers are applying for freelance work from a company, it must be good. You apply for the same opportunity.
  2. You scour your local business directory for companies that meet your ideal client criteria and send them an information packet about your services.
  3. You don’t believe in marketing your services. You hate sales.

D. When a potential client contacts you, you:

  1. Always accept the project at the rate the client proposes. You have to take work whenever you can get it or you’ll experience the “famine” of the feast or famine cycle.
  2. Negotiate according to your predetermined criteria for freelance work. You also turn a sizeable portion of potential clients away–they just don’t fit your business goals.
  3. You don’t accept inquiries from clients for jobs you haven’t already applied for.

If you answered these questions with mostly “1”s, you are probably an undercover freelancer. You need to be a little bit more assertive about your marketing. You also could use a little more self-confidence.

If you answered these questions with mostly “2”s, good job! It sounds like you really know what you’re doing, so keep it up. You’re definitely NOT undercover.

If you answered these questions with most “3”s, ‘fess up. You just started freelancing or you’re not a freelancer, but thinking about it, right? Don’t give up. You can a lot right here on Freelance Folder.

Of course, the previous quiz was just for fun. However, I hope it gave you some insights into your freelancing style.

Your Turn

How did you do on the quiz? Are you an undercover freelancer?

What quiz questions would you add?

Share your thoughts in the comments.