Welcome to Freelance Friday! Each Friday, I’ll share something Freelance-y that I learned during the week that will help other freelancers or entertain cubicle-queens. Thanks for reading!
Like every freelancer or 9-fiver, I’ve had my fair share of doubts. They’re more overwhemling sometimes than others — say when you realize you haven’t received an email in three days or when you realize quarterly taxes are right around the corner.
For me, it usually goes something like this:
What if I’m ruining JHubbs & my financial future?
What if I have to go back to a 9-5?
What if the work dries up?
These are all my scary pain points, so in a nod to my own advice of embracing your fears aloud, why not just let them out here?
Sidenote: There’s one big fear that’s actually not on my list: I’m not worried about being able to secure a job because I’ve gotten a lot done in my time of self-employment and my P&L speaks for itself. I’m more worried about these subsets of problems that would come with putting my hat in the ring again:
- Would they make me give up my freelance writing/established relationships? If I didn’t, would they always suspect I was cheating on them?
- Would I crack under a 40hr+/week schedule? If I would, could I even find a well-paying part-time position?
- Would I be destined to never make a break for it again?
If you freelance, do you share any of these fears?
When the going gets tough, you have to conciously choose to be on your own team. If it gets tough a lot, create cute decorative posters with your reasons on them and hang them in your home office. If it gets tough only sometimes, make a contingency plan for how to jostle yourself out of the funk. Here’s how I do it:
When the going gets tough
When I start to get scared or Freelance Fear threatens to paralyze me, I remind myself of these three mini-mottos that have gotten me through hard times:
If anyone can do it, I can do it.
I don’t mean this in a full-of-myself way. I mean it in the Marcus Aurelius way:
Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.
I have to remember that there is a way to do this for a living. Others have done it before me, others are doing it now, and more will do it after me. All I have to do is find the right path and follow it with confidence.
The answer always surprises me.
I’ve learned this lessn over and over again: just because you can’t see the solution right now doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. When I was stuck in a two-hour commute, a random Craigslist posting lead me to quickly take a job at a marketing agency. When I was laid off from that marketing agency, I took the skills I learned and started freelancing. Whatever you’re struggling with right now, have a little faith and patience that the answer is coming so long as you keep working hard.
This is a world of plenty.
This one is a little questionable, but it works for me. When I first started freelancing, I had this golden retriever puppy mentality that was surprised at how much work there is out there in the world. Just think of it: thousands of businesses trying to hire hundreds of people. Industries taking to the internet and opening themselves up to virtual employees, part time and contract employees, and beyond. This attitude made me feel confident that I could always find work. I felt unstoppable, and that confidence came across in my phone calls and emails.
But as the months went on, I found myself questioning this mentality. I began to become afraid that there weren’t new jobs for me, or that I couldn’t connect myself or market myself successfully. Can we all say self-fullfilling prophecy? Perhaps unrelated, I started being clumsy on client calls and for some reason not getting the jobs I was pitching. I think it was my bad attitude seeping through.
Part of this is blind faith — I have to believe that the freelance world is a world of plenty. So no matter how many gorgeous freelancer websites I come across or how much money someone else makes on their writing, I have to hold on to the faith that there’s more out there for me and it’s worth fighting for.
It’s one thing to get your head on straight. It’s another entirely to incorporate productive habits into your daily routine that will help you squash your fears.
Here are a few things I add to my to-do list that help me unparalyze myself from fear and do my best each day (on the days I don’t give up and hit the couch, that is ;-).
Have a pitch day
Freelancing means always needing to have some iron in the fire. I find I’m only really worried when I stop hearing from prospective clients. When that happens, I take 2 hours and hit my favorite job boards and pitch. Even if I only take on 1 in 30 offers because of the topic or the payscale, it’s nice to feel wanted and have those emails coming in.
Read Dilbert comics
If you’ve ever worked in a traditional office, Dilbert will help you through the hard times. The comics are funny, but not when you’re living them (or seeing them posted in the office ironically, when it’s true). Here’s my favorite one thats way too true:
By Scott Adams , Dilbert Comics
Any time I think about going back to a company, I wonder if I really want to work hard to earn someone else his paycheck (see next week’s Freelance Friday post for more on this topic!).
Focus on the work
Sometimes things will be quiet. And because income is only tied to new work (not necessarily completing work or doing a good job), the best strategy is to launch yourself entirely into your work and do the best you can. By the time you come up for air, you’ll feel differently about your quiet inbox or more hopeful about the work you’ve accomplished.