Freelancing can be exhilarating! Liberating! Life enhancing! Deeply satisfying! And it can also be downright scary. Here are five fears that often make freelancers lose sleep, with suggestions on how to tackle them.
1 – The work will run out
This fear can tempt you into taking work you don’t want, don’t have time for or can’t really afford to do.
Put time aside every week to hone and market your skills, and to look for future projects, while working on the work you already have in hand.
Stay in polite, non-pushy, but regular contact with previous clients.
Resist taking on low-paid or unsatisfying work unless you’re really forced to; this could mean you’re too busy to take on better work when it appears.
Consider registering on an online freelance marketplace (but read the terms and conditions very carefully before you do so. Some may charge you a fee if you fail to attract enough clients or make enough money in a month.
Advertise your services more widely or through a different route – what about magazines, targeted emails, social media, local business networks?
2 – I’m not making enough money
Obviously, some of the suggestions above for finding more work may also help you earn more money. However, it’s worth asking yourself why you chose to freelance in the first place. Was it for greater flexibility, more money or more opportunity? The rewards of freelancing aren’t always monetary, so a lot depends on why you started it.
Has it provided what you were looking for and if not, can you identify why? If you needed more money, and that’s not happening – or you’re not earning enough to live on – it’s time for some analysis. Firstly, how much money do you need? If you’re genuinely not earning enough, then how could you make more money?
Offer a new or extra service?
Approach a new market?
Increase your rates?
Seek out or focus on higher-paying clients or projects?
If none of these solutions work, I regretfully direct you to fear number 5.
3 – I’m not good enough
It’s easy to compare yourself to others and convince yourself that they’re all more skilled or qualified than you, but chances are, this isn’t true.
Stay abreast of developments in your field.
Refresh your skills through self-study or taking a course.
Set realistic prices and expectations to match your experience and qualifications.
While it’s good to stretch yourself, beware pitching for work that you can’t handle due to its nature or time constraints. It’s not worth the stress – or the risk of ruining your reputation by disappointing a client.
Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. These will help you gain work in future, and reading what your satisfied clients have to say about you can be a great boost to your self-esteem and confidence.
4 – I’ll price myself out of the market
Every freelancer has had this fear at some stage. They wonder how much other freelancers are charging, how others can afford to live on what they charge (do they work more quickly?), and if their clients will bear in mind that their earnings have to cover insurance, sickness, holidays, the cost of premises or working from home…
Do a little market research – perhaps by pretending to be a potential client – but ensure it’s realistic. The freelance market is becoming a global one, especially in industries where we can work online, and this can mean competing with freelancers from countries where the standard of living is far cheaper – meaning that what seems a fabulous wage to them isn’t enough to buy you, where you live, a tin of beans. However, some clients prefer to work with freelancers based in the same country, and some of the freelancers setting rock-bottom prices won’t be producing the same quality of work you do.
If you’ve got experience or a hard-won qualification, make it known, and set your prices accordingly. Keep your portfolio updated so that you can prove to potential clients that you’re worth the money.
5 – I’d be better off finding a job
Sorry, but sometimes this is true. We’re not all cut out for the freelance life. Some people find there’s just not enough freelance work to match their skills, or find the lifestyle too stressful, citing the uncertainty, the feast and famine, the doubts that beset them when they begin a new project or start work for a new client. They feel pressured by the need to promote themselves, set their own prices and constantly seek work.
If this is how you feel, don’t beat yourself up. You gave it a try – and you haven’t failed if you’ve learnt from the experience. Carrying on with freelancing when it makes you miserable – now that’s a failure.
Use those client testimonials as proof of your skills and reliability when you’re seeking employment.
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