Fighting Freelancer’s Doubt
Tips and Tricks to Help You Overcome Your Doubt When Getting Started
If you are an up and coming freelancer looking to break into the world of self-employment, it is likely that you’re familiar with something I like to call “freelancer’s doubt”.
Freelancer’s doubt is that little voice that pops up in your head from time to time, spewing nonsense. But what do I mean by nonsense? Well, that little voice isn’t the most loving. That little voice says things like, “you’re never going to make it” and “there’s no way you can generate a sizable income out of this”. We’ve all heard it from time to time and the feelings it generates in us can be enough to make us turn away from freelancing forever.
I’m here to tell you not to listen to that voice.
Freelancer’s doubt happens to the best of us and it seems the very loudest in the beginning of the freelancing journey. Taking the necessary steps to start your freelancing business, grow your customer base, and take on all of the hard work associated with generating a livable income can all be overwhelming tasks. That being said, only those that overcome these worries will experience success as full-time freelancers.
Today, I’d like to share a few tips and tricks with you that I’ve formulated in my time as a freelancer. To this day, I have to contend with freelancer’s doubt. Whenever that little voice pops up in my head and seeks to undermine all of my accomplishments up until this point, there are a few strategies I use to overcome it. You can too. With that, let’s get started.
Fighting Freelancer’s Doubt
As freelancers, we’re all different. We have our unique strengths and weaknesses, our own interests, and different working strategies. We all bring something new to the table that nobody else can in exactly the same way. One thing that is common among us, however, is doubt.
Regardless of how confident you are in your abilities as a freelancer, there will be one time or another where you start to wonder if you have what it takes to succeed. Freelancing is a career move and all of the usual worries that pop up concerning any job are present in freelancers.
Unfortunately, we have even more on our plates than that.
From the doubts that we can that we’ll generate enough work in a month to pay our bills to whether or not our quality of work will live up to the expectations of our clients, our heads are spinning with worry.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So what are the biggest freelancer’s doubts that we experience as freelancers? There are a few that prove constant across the board.
- Can I make enough money?
- Do I have enough experience to land jobs?
- How can I turn down work that doesn’t serve me?
Each of these doubts generate a lot of fear in freelancers. In fact, just typing them out sent a chill up my spine and gave me butterflies in my stomach. These are serious fears and these doubts can be enough to turn a talented freelancer away from self-employment entirely.
But there are ways to overcome these doubts.
Fighting Financial Doubts
Financial doubts are by far one of the biggest felt in the freelancing world. Even once you’ve built up a sizable amount of monthly work, there is still that ever-lingering fear that something will take a turn, that one day you won’t have enough consistent work to pay your bills.
Being paid enough for your work and being paid on time are two of the biggest worries that can end a freelancing career before it ever gets started. If you are someone with a current 9–5 job that is reluctant to make the move from employment to self-employment, this is probably a top concern of yours.
Luckily, as with all freelancer’s doubts, there is a way to fight this fear.
The first step to fighting financial doubts is to set yourself up for financial success. When I began my freelancing career, I made sure that I had a savings set up to provide some cushion if I had a hard time generating a customer base in the beginning. It was a good thing I did. Even with sinking hours and hours into cold pitching, optimizing my Fiverr profile, and advertising my services, it took nearly a month before I landed my first gig.
If I hadn’t had an emergency fund set up in savings, I could have been in some serious financial trouble. For this reason, one of my biggest recommendations to new freelancers is to dive straight into freelancing, but to do so at the right time and with caution. Make sure you have funds set aside to support yourself before you quit that 9–5 job in pursuit of self-employment.
But what about the freelancer’s doubt about being paid on time?
It’s true, there are no federal laws currently in place to ensure that freelancer’s are paid on time. If you have a client that takes their time in paying you for your work, this can leave you high and dry when rent is due. So what can be done?
In my own experience, outside of using freelancing platforms like Fiverr, I always demand payment up front. This alleviates the worry that I either won’t receive payment or that I won’t get paid for my services at all. That being said, I realize this isn’t a feasible option for all freelancers in the beginning. After all, there are few clients that will feel comfortable paying you for your services upfront when you don’t have much of a portfolio of previous work built up to offer proof of your quality.
In this case, I highly recommend that new freelancers generate ongoing contracts. These contracts can be used as leverage. If you don’t receive payment in a scheduled, timely manner upon delivery of your work, you can stop working for that client altogether. This means that you don’t have to lift a finger for that client until they pay you what you are owed.
Fighting Experience Doubts
On to the next biggest doubt that new freelancers have: doubts about their own experience. It is completely natural to worry about whether or not you have enough proof of experience to land jobs in the beginning. In all honesty, you probably don’t have much of a portfolio to show clients that speaks to your quality as a freelancer. Putting yourself in the shoes of your prospective clients, you could understand why they would be reluctant to hire you without one.
That being said, experience doubts are no reason not to pursue your career as a freelancer. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. Even the most successful freelancers who generate thousands of dollars every month for their work had to start at the very beginning. The key is to overcome freelancer’s doubt. But how can you go about doing that?
What we’re really talking about in the space of experience doubts is a fear of rejection. Nobody wants to be told that they aren’t the right fit for a job or that they don’t have enough experience to warrant hiring. As a freelancer, you will be rejected at some point. I have been. So has every successful freelancer out there. The key is to not let this rejection discourage you from moving forward.
There are many different reasons that freelancers may be turned down for work. Most of these reasons have nothing to do with your experience or talent as a freelancer. The client you pitch to may not have enough available funds to employ a consistent freelancer at this time. Maybe the person you pitched to just didn’t understand the value of your work. Regardless of the reason, this is no reason for you to give up.
The key to overcoming experience doubts is to drive yourself forward. With each rejection, there is a client out there that would be happy to hire you. You just have to find them, sell your abilities, and create high quality work for them. If you give up and never reach out, you’ll never land a job. Considering freelancing is built on generating a steady stream of income, you can’t afford to give up when things get hard.
Focus your efforts on creating better pitches, narrow your focus on clients you know need your services, and keep pitching.
Your hard work will pay off and once you land that first client and deliver high-quality work, you will not only have your first consistent customer but new work to add to your portfolio, strengthening your efforts to land new clients.
Fighting Doubts of Turning Down Work
Another huge doubt that freelancers struggle with is the doubt of whether or not they can reasonably turn down work that doesn’t serve them. If you are an up and coming freelancer, you may be scratching your head as to why any freelancer would ever turn down a job. Take it from me, those situations will arise and when they do, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice to not speak up for yourself.
As freelancers, our time is valuable. We sink countless hours into creating valuable work for our clients and each client that we take on eats up a little bit more of our available time. Working for a client that either isn’t willing to pay you what you’re worth or isn’t understanding of your schedule will do more harm to your freelancing career than good.
Burnout is incredibly common in the freelancing community. Many of us end up working around the clock to fulfill orders and this can have a huge impact on not only our time but our mental health. For this reason, it is imperative that you only take on clients that serve you as equally as you serve them.
If you ever encounter a client that wants to negotiate your rates down or that doesn’t understand when you don’t have the availability to take on work, it’s time to look elsewhere. A client worth working with will understand when you’ve reached unmanageable levels of work and need more time to complete their order and will be willing to pay you what you are worth. Look out for those that don’t and avoid them. High quality clients result in jobs that you can take pride in, deliver within a reasonable deadline, and add to your portfolio to generate even more quality clients.
Operate with all of these factors in mind. If a client doesn’t seem like the right fit for you for whatever reason, don’t let freelancer’s doubt consume you. If something doesn’t feel right about the situation, don’t be afraid to turn down the work. Stand up for yourself. Know your own worth. Take care of yourself. As important as pleasing our clients is as freelancers, damage can be done to your freelancing career by scrambling to meet the needs of clients that just want to take advantage of you. Take enough pride in yourself to silence that little voice in your head telling you that you need that client. There will be others and they’ll be willing to work with you in a way that that client will not.
Turn Freelancer’s Doubt Into Confidence in Yourself
If you want to be a successful freelancer, overcoming freelancer’s doubt is mandatory. Without confidence in your craft and abilities, you can never hope to land those high-paying jobs. Take confidence in yourself, use these tips to overcome your fear, and deliver the work you know you’re capable of. The world isn’t conspiring against you and only you can ensure your own success. With hard work and confidence in yourself, all of this will pay off.
I guarantee it.