Freelancing Competition–Friends or Foes?

Freelancer-CompetitorsLet’s face it. If you’re a freelancer, then you’ve got competition.

Competition means that there is someone else who is also targeting your ideal clients and prospects. They may be applying for the same projects. They may even be getting more of those projects than you are getting.

It’s very easy for a freelancer to get distracted by what their competition is doing.

In this post, we’ll discuss the three possible attitudes you can have towards your competition. We’ll also explain why it’s important not to get too sidetracked by focusing on your competitors.

Competition and Freelancing

Competition is a huge part of the freelancing landscape. So much so, in fact, that we’ve discussed different aspects of competition before on Freelance Folder:

Nearly every freelancer that I’ve ever met eventually deals with the issue of how to treat their competition (both online and in person). If you haven’t faced this issue yet–trust me, you will.

Your freelancing competition is everywhere you look. In fact, there are probably freelancing competitors working in your community right now. And, of course, the internet is filled with freelancers who are competing with you to get the same business.

Three Possible Attitudes

Faced with all this competition, what’s a freelancer to do?

There are basically three possible attitudes that you can have towards your freelance competitors:

  • View them as enemies–If you view your competitors as enemies, then you will probably treat another freelancer angrily or sharply if you ever have to interact with them. If you blog, some of that bitterness will likely bleed into your posts and color the image that both potential clients and other freelancers have of you.
  • View them as possible friends–If you view your competitors as friends, then you will probably enjoy interacting with them online and in person. You will treat them warmly and politely. Your blog posts and your online image will most likely be positive and upbeat towards all (which will tend to attract people to you).
  • Ignore them–If you ignore your competitors, then you will likely not seek out any interactions with other freelancers. This may be because you’re really shy, pre-occupied, just generally self-focused, or for some other reason.

Over the years, I’ve watched various freelancers exhibit all of these attitudes and I’ve also experienced some of them myself.

In the next section, we explore whether or not there’s a right or wrong attitude to have towards your competitors.

The Best Attitude to Have

When it comes to competition, is there a right or wrong attitude?

Personally, I think that there is a best attitude to have. I tend to view freelance competitors as possible friends.

In the long term, this perspective has really paid off for me. I have received referral work from competitors and, as their business has grown, I’ve even accepted projects from several of them. None of this could have happened if I had chosen to view my freelance competitors as enemies instead of as potential friends.

However, if for some reason you just can’t bring yourself to view your competitors as potential friends, then I think it is probably best to ignore them. At least that way, you won’t be caught up in the negative energy that comes with being too competitive with others and your attitude won’t taint your work.

Don’t Let the Competition Distract You

It’s all too easy to get caught up in gossiping or griping about your competitors–especially if your own business has slowed down. I’ve seen this trend lately on message boards and in social media. But, the truth is, gossiping and griping about other freelancers won’t actually improve your own freelancing business.

Even if what your competitor does seems unfair to you, taking the time to fret about another freelancer’s activities just means that you have less time to spend marketing your own business. Plus, if you make your comments where they can viewed by others, such as on a message board or through social media, they may come back to haunt you if you ever have the opportunity to work with (or for) that other freelancer.

While I do think that it is important to be aware of what freelancing trends are happening in your field, it’s just not a good idea to get too distracted by a specific freelancing competitor. Ultimately, what they do (or don’t do) will reflect on them and what you do (or don’t do) will reflect on you.

What Do You Think?

Which attitude do you take towards your competitors, and why? Have you benefitted by befriending your freelancing competitors?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Image by theogeo