Why You NEED to Take Yourself Seriously as a Freelancer

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!

Why You NEED to Take Yourself Seriously as a Freelancer21. 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:

  1. The 90 Day Pitching Challenge
  2. How to Pitch Without the Right Samples
  3. How to Write Pitches That Get Noticed
  4. Finding Clients to Pitch: Exactly How I Would Do It Today
  5. 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:

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:

  1. 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success (V3 due out next month! All current students will get a free upgrade.)
  2. 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success (Wanna be a VA? This course is for you!)
  3.  Pinterest Presence (Kristin has increased my Pinterest presence like a million fold – girl knows her stuff!)
  4. Double Your Freelance Rate (By my informal mentor and Socratic questioning genius, Brennan Dunn.)
  5. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (By Michelle who just had her first $100k MONTH – I’m currently halfway through this course.)
  6. Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice (By Caitlin Pyle for those of you with “eagle eyes.”)
  7. 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!)

In Conclusion

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!

21 thoughts on “Why You NEED to Take Yourself Seriously as a Freelancer”

  1. Love this post Gina!

    Treating my own projects like a business investment has definitely been (and is) the hardest part for me. I’ve got no issue jumping into client work but when it comes to developing things for myself and building my business all that drive goes out of the window. But hey, I just keep working at it and one of these days it’s going to become a habit, right?

    Bookmarked for continuous inspiration 🙂

    • Thanks Sophia – it’s tough, but you’re right – keep at it and you’ll nail it sooner than later. Congrats on knowing how important it is and taking action to make your personal projects a priority.

  2. Hey Gina,

    This feels like it was written just for me!! Need I say more?

    I will attempt to answer your questions:

    WHY NOT ME, WHY NOT NOW? – Getting inspirations from women like you and others who have made it work, continues to put a lot of “motisha” in me to keep doing it. (Motisha is Swahili for encouragement – it comes with some sort of swag!)

    WHAT’S THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN? – I could take home a 5 – 6 figure salary! That is out of this world for me, but quite possible.

    Thank you for this post, Lady Gina. I will definitely bookmark it for future inspiration, and share it with others walking this road.

    Rgds, Evah

    • Wonderful Evah – thanks for doing the exercise and sharing it with the world. Can’t wait to see where they journey takes you (and I hope to provide some motisha along the way)!

  3. This is the kick in the pants I need right now!

    Why not me, now? –Well, exactly. I’ve put in years of work for other people, but never felt like a success because I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do (which is write for a living). Now I am a stay-at-home mom, and I can think of no better gift to myself or my family than for me to be successful at what I love to do!

    What is the best thing that can happen? –I could magically turn into Oprah. Just kidding. I could EARN regular paychecks while having the flexibility to be with my family while doing something I love!

    Thanks, Gina. It helps to know that I’m not the only one nervous about putting myself out there 100%. I always want everything to be perfect before I introduce it to the world, but really everything is a work in progress. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Hi Amy,
      I was just at your blog and wanted to let you know that your blog posts aren’t loading when I clicked on some of them to read them. You are writing about stuff that I’m interested in so, I was hoping to read your posts. I wanted to email you to let you know, but you don’t have an email address under your “about” section. I think you have a great blog, and are writing about interesting topics. You know what they say about confidence, “fake it ’til you make it!” Good luck!

      • Thanks so much for letting me know! I’m currently searching for a new child theme since this one doesn’t seem to work. I appreciate your feedback!

      • Also, I’ve expanded the layout so that the articles are all on the front page if you’d like to read them! Thanks again for letting me know about this glitch.

  4. Hi Gina,

    This post is a timely reminder on everything i’m supposed to be doing as a brand new freelance writer.

    The good news is that i’ve started.

    Though having enough time is a major challenge since the freelance writing is part time for now due to my full time job.

    But i know it will definitely get better.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hey Sola – good for you for starting! I had limited time in the beginning too – my best advice (I should really write a post on this) is to focus on the highest yielding activities (or those that can produce an immediate ROI), so pitching would be at the top! Good luck!

      • You are in good company Sola! Time constraints are a challenge for many of us! Good luck to you as you start your business!

        Please do Gina! That would be a great post. I have set the hours that I will be working my business come Aug 22. (Kids all in school/daycare and only 3 mornings per week at my school-year day job), and I am gearing up to make those hours count. High yielding activities-immediate ROI-now I have the vocab to fit the plan 😉 No more flitting around-I want results!

  5. Ouch… 90%! Way to give us the brutal truth, Gina! 😉 Seriously, this is a great kick-in-the-butt post!

    I would love to read a post on high-ROI activities. Sometimes it feels like blogging is so time-intensive, it eclipses the time I might otherwise have to put into freelance writing. I sort of wish I had pursued freelancing BEFORE blogging.

    • Yeah, probably not popular advice, but it’ll get you results! And there’s no reason you can’t switch gears as far as how much time you spend blogging vs. building a freelance writing biz. It all depends on your long-term goals I guess. Regardless, keep at it!

  6. Every day I wake up with anxiety over a job I can’t stand. I am pursuing freelance writing as a chance to do what I love and be free of that anxiety. I have a natural tenancy to meet the expectations of others. It’s time for me to start meeting my own. Day by day I can chip away at the process of building MY dream. It won’t work of I am not all in. Thanks for the kick in the buns Gina!

    • Totally get where you’re coming from Jason! I used to feel the same and then would feel guilt on top of it because I actually had it pretty good, it just wasn’t fulfilling. Excited to see where following your dreams takes you!

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