Are you a brand new freelancer or thinking about trying the hat on for size?
If you are, congrats! Why not YOU, why not NOW? (Still a favorite mantra of mine!) 😉
Here’s the thing though – most people don’t take their freelance business seriously until they’ve already succeeded. I.e. they think they can put in a half-assed effort and if it takes off then they’ll double down and get serious.
They think they need some sort of proof before going all in, committing to their new enterprise 100% and believing that they can actually do it.
And I get it, I really do.
If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. In fact, here are some replies I got from my most recent newsletter sent this past Saturday:
I really want to get this idea of freelance writing up and running. I’m just having a hard time finding the confidence in myself. Any advice for me?”
“Was just checking my email after fixing lunch for my family and wishing I had the courage to do something different. Your comment about your July income really being the fruits of past labor and “what are you doing today?” sort of resonated with me…”
“I’m struggling with the idea of not having anything worth saying or not knowing enough about a niche that could become profitable. I’m 24 and I don’t feel like I’ve lived long enough to be able to write about anything that people will find valuable or worth their time. I want that freedom to do a job where I can be creative and the job I’m at right now just doesn’t do that for me.”
These might be some of the very same reasons keeping you from getting serious about a career in freelance (or even a side hustle, there’s nothing to say you have to freelance full-time!).
But here’s the thing, if you don’t take yourself seriously as a freelancer, no one else will!
It’s true. Just like bees can sense fear (or lack of commitment), so can small business owners. 😉
So now that I have you shaking your head “yes” along with me, what are we going to do about it? Here are five strategies that you can put in place TODAY to start taking yourself seriously as a freelancer. Get to it!
1. Treat Yourself like a Client
I’ve talked about this before and odds are I’ll talk about it again – you NEED to start treating yourself like your very best client.
That means you should blog for yourself (if that’s part of your content marketing strategy), market your business regularly, set and keep deadlines for your own projects, etc. Too many people don’t.
Instead of working ON their business regularly, they just work IN their business. I.e. they’re not strategically planning for the future, stopping to re-evaluate the direction they’re headed, etc.
Basically, they’re just head down in work.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. For a period. But if that’s your long-term strategy, you’ll have just created another “job” for yourself, not a new career or business.
And that’s kinda what you’re after, right?
2. Pitch like a Boss
Until you have clients (or enough clients), it’s basically your job to find some.
I.e. 90% of the work time you have available should be spent prospecting or pitching. I’m sorry if that doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s THE WAY you’ll have success as a freelancer (and it doesn’t matter which kind of freelancer you are).
We’ve written on this topic A LOT! Here are five of my favorite posts on pitching:
- The 90 Day Pitching Challenge
- How to Pitch Without the Right Samples
- How to Write Pitches That Get Noticed
- Finding Clients to Pitch: Exactly How I Would Do It Today
- 5 Ways to Up Your Pitching Game
(There are over a dozen posts related to pitching on Horkey HandBook – if you’re looking for additional resources, just put “pitch” in the search bar to find more.)
There’s also been a lot of success stories coming in via email and through the private Facebook group associated with my writing course from people that have made a conscious and consistent (both equally important) effort when it comes to pitching.
Don’t fret if results don’t come overnight (they often won’t) – that’s why I suggest 90 days or three solid months of pitching activity. Because by the end of it, I’m going to wager you’ve made some SERIOUS progress, including landing a new client or three!
3. Set Goals
If you’ve been around these parts long, you’ll know that I’m goal setting fiend.
And more importantly, I’m committed to assessing my progress over time and tweaking my goals as I see fit. So not only should you set goals for your freelance business, you should also track your progress regularly (at least monthly) and don’t be afraid to revisit or tweak them as necessary.
Because they’ll change.
And that’s okay. In fact, it’s completely NORMAL.
If you’re curious as to what my goals have looked like over time, take a look at these posts where I’ve shared them and recapped the results:
- My Top 3 2015 Freelance Writing Business Goals
- 2015 Freelance Business Goals (a review)
- 2016 Business Goals (and a recap of 2015)
- What Kind of Freelance Business Do YOU Want? (my most recent post revising this year’s goals)
So take a page from my book, set some business goals, track them regularly and revisit/tweak as necessary going forward.
4. Put Yourself out There
If you’re not willing to put yourself out there – like really put yourself out there – you’re going to have trouble picking up steam and building momentum.
You have to do it 110%. Again, half-assed efforts won’t do.
And don’t wait until you’ve had success to let people know you’ve started a new business. Yes, it’s true that it might not work out. But if you don’t let the people that support and love you the most know that you’re for hire, odds are even better that your new business ship will sink.
People LOVE to help when given the opportunity.
And here’s the thing, what’s the worst that’s going to happen if you do fail? You’ll have given it your all and learned a bunch of useful life lessons that will help you succeed at something else? Cool!
That actually sounds like success to me.
So even though you can’t predict the future, don’t worry about tomorrow. Worry about today instead, what you can control and what you can do to have the best chances of succeeding (hint: it has to do with pitching and putting yourself out there…).
Commit to your business. Commit to yourself. Do this thing yo!
Besides, what’s the best that can happen? Don’t you want to find out?
5. Invest in Yourself
And I don’t mean charge a bunch of credit card debt, quit your job prematurely or deplete your savings.
Odds are you’re already a pretty busy person. So if there’s a course, a tool or something else that can help you shorten your learning curve (within reason), consider investing a small amount into jumpstarting your new career.
Sure you can probably find it somewhere on the internets for free, but time is actually a much more precious resource than dolla, dolla bills y’all!
Make sure that what you invest in can produce some sort of tangible ROI (return on investment) though and commit to using it. So if you decide to invest in a course, COMPLETE THE COURSE. If you subscribe to a paid job board, USE IT!
Buying something WILL NOT help you succeed. It also takes action – a lot of it!
And then when you’ve produced your ROI, reinvest the profits in yourself or put that money back in the bank! Don’t just spend money to spend money – prove to yourself (and your loved ones) that your investment yielded tangible results.
Not sure where to start? I have two pretty solid courses, plus here are a few that I really dig:
- 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success (V3 due out next month! All current students will get a free upgrade.)
- 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success (Wanna be a VA? This course is for you!)
- Pinterest Presence (Kristin has increased my Pinterest presence like a million fold – girl knows her stuff!)
- Double Your Freelance Rate (By my informal mentor and Socratic questioning genius, Brennan Dunn.)
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (By Michelle who just had her first $100k MONTH – I’m currently halfway through this course.)
- Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice (By Caitlin Pyle for those of you with “eagle eyes.”)
- B2B Booster Shot (A course by my girl Sarah Greesonbach who works part-time as a freelance writer making FULL-TIME income!)
(All of these are affiliate links, except my own. I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t believe in them or haven’t paid my own money to take them personally. Hint: many of them have free courses to dip your toe in and make sure it’s for you before you hand over your hard-earned cash!)
So there you have it – ~1,600 words on why and how to start taking your freelance business seriously.
Start with treating yourself like a client, pitching like a boss, setting goals, putting yourself out there and investing in your new business (within reason). It’s not that hard, right? 😉
Honestly, I know it is hard. But I also know it’s 100% WORTH IT! So today, I’m going to leave you with my two favorite mantras:
Why not YOU, why not NOW?
What’s the BEST that can happen?
My challenge to you today is to sit and really think about these two questions. Then physically write (not type) out your answers. And if you’re brave enough, post them in the comments section. I double dog dare you!