With freelancing, you have no end in sight. You have no idea where your next paycheck comes from.
You also have no commute and you don’t have others jostling for space.
No office politics. No water cooler discussions.
No one who understands what you do.
But you and I know that freelancing is good.
Freelancing is a business opportunity like no other. I don’t have to extoll the virtues of freelancing to you because you know that.
I, however, believe we all have a problem brewing.
What’s the problem, you ask? We have a tendency to get stuck, to feel sorry for ourselves, to be submissive sometimes, and to punish ourselves with relentless stress for things that aren’t even under your control.
We have a way to submerge ourselves into eternal routines and dig deep into pits that we created on our own.
We tend to continue to do exactly what we do with freelancing without really progressing.
We need to change. We need progression.
It’s not the “Oh, I am so good at this now that I could do this in my sleep” or “I’ve done digital marketing for 16 years” kind of progression.
It’s the “I can’t believe I am doing this”, “Is this really me?” level of change that I believe we should all challenge ourselves to.
Here’s how and why I believe we should start doing something we didn’t do (or couldn’t do) before and strive to make our freelancing careers larger than life
1. Say No To Routine
As freelancers, we face the risk of being complacent where we just stay and fight the day.
No, we aren’t moving ahead. We aren’t trying anything new.
We just get by. We do what we need to do pay the bills. Or maybe do well enough that we can publish an “income report” on our blog.
Just like “Sitting is the new smoking”, the routines (or lack of them) is not good for us freelancers.
Unshackle this routine.
Do something crazy you never thought you could ever do. What will do you? What was it that you were scared to do or thought you could never do? What kind of solutions can forever solve the problem of staying awake and staring at the ceiling?
Ask yourself. Find the answers. Whatever you do, try to move out of your comfort zone and try something ridiculous.
Say no to any routine. Come back here and write back here on what that ridiculous thing was that you tried?
I’ll go first: I made contact with Ramit Sethi to get myself tortured with the feedback I didn’t like. I started writing to influencers, just for the heck of it.
I revamped my entire website. Also, started a new blog.
I committed myself to blog 1500 – 4500-word blog posts, every day. I am working on new video courses (I am scared of videos).
I started guest posting.
I fired all my clients (here on PPH and elsewhere).
Why? [Read on]
2. Freelancing Is Only the Beginning
When you started freelancing, you might have done that just to “try”, to “experiment”, to “pitch and see what happens”.
If something did happen, you got excited. One thing led to another and now you find yourself busy and drowning with client work and deliveries to meet.
Since this worked, we’ll make it work. Right?
Somewhere along the way, you lost the thrill of “experimenting” and “trying”.
Freelancing is mostly a one-person business. You can’t possibly do everything yourself. Your time is limited and you can only do so many billable hours.
Try growing a team and run an agency.
Depart from client work completely and only do coaching or training.
Take online classes.
3. Find your passion, again
Most freelancers are strong-willed, passionate, resolute, and committed. We are also very good at what we do. I am willing to bet that it was passion, love for the craft, and self-respect that got people to do freelancing in the first place.
But where is the passion?
You lost it in the ugly daily battles – regular pitching, bidding, applying, hustling, sending emails back and forth, managing admin, blogging, social media, and what have you.
The time has come for you to consider dragging that passion out of wherever you kept it hiding.
Don’t question why you need to bring that passion out for – at worst, it’ll refuel your freelancing business; at best, it’ll turn you into an unstoppable entrepreneurial cyborg.
4. Go premium and stop trying to play nice
As freelancers, we specialize in a particular craft. We are self-employed. We are in business.
Oh boy! But, do we forget the “business” part or what?
Freelancers say things like:
“I’ll work for free”
“The client didn’t pay, what do I do now?”
“He asks for a discount. Should I oblige?”
Stop that madness.
Ever noticed how some businesses accept only certain kinds of clients?
HSBC Premier requires you to have a minimum term deposit or TLV (Total Relationship Value) of $100,000 with them to qualify.
Want to travel in luxury for a long-haul flight from London to Australia? Pay more cash and upgrade to business class.
If HSBC thought that customers are more important (and that they should strive to please their customers), wouldn’t they let anyone open an HSBC Premier account? If Virgin Atlantic wants to place, couldn’t everyone fly business class?
Would a new Apple iPhone ever be available at a 50% discount?
Doesn’t work that way.
Increase your prices by 50% right now. Plus, add some more to that.
Stop dishing out discounts. Stop playing nice.
There isn’t a single business out there that lets you have anything of value for free.
So, why would you do that?
5. Make yourself more Important than your client
When you joined PPH, you wanted to get projects – nothing more nothing less.
For everyone, it starts with nervousness and then excitement (as projects come in). Then complacency sets in (minus the ugly face of business, clients, and stress).
You’d forever worry that if you don’t do what clients ask you to, or if you don’t do a great job, you’d suffer negative feedback. Or that you’ll not get paid.
That makes you feel small, unappreciated, and inconsequential.
Stop it. If money is an issue, front load savings (which means that you save up front before you take it easy) and make it easier for yourself to say “no” and “fire clients”.
You don’t have to be a “freelancer”, a “vendor”, an “outsourced help”.
You are the specialist. You are the reason why clients get their work done. This isn’t even a favor.
Your client isn’t above you.
Sit upright and show clients that you know what you do. Let clients know, feel, and understand that you aren’t just a “vendor” but you are a “partner”.
How do you do that?
The long and hard way: Write a book. Write a blog. Get published enough to showcase your name here and there. Get featured in a podcast or a blog post on a much bigger publication.
The simple way: Just say so. Create a set of rules that clients have to accept. Practice being firm but polite. Just learn to say no. Put your foot down.
6. Brutally ignore bad clients
The way it works with service businesses, agencies, and freelancer is that we usually tend to treat clients well (heck, we even pamper them).
We listen to them. We want to help. We want to do the best we can. We put in extra hours. We might even sell our soul to try to do justice to clients’ projects.
Read that paragraph again, because I know you skimmed right past it.
Now, why do you have to pretend that the “client is right”?
You do know some “clients from hell”. Then there are those who are cheap, those who treat you bad, and those who want to grab as much of your time (and sanity) as possible.
Your freelancing business isn’t worth it if you have to deal with cheap clients, dictators, and wantrepreneurs.
Follow the 80/20 rule: weed out and brutally fire every single client who doesn’t respect your work, your time, and you as a person first (we’ll talk business later).
How do you plan to bring in changes to make your freelancing go larger than life? I’d be curious to know. Tell me all about it.
About the Author:
Ash is an end-to-end digital marketer with a singular focus to make businesses profitable on the Internet. He runs a digital marketing agency at FetchProfits. If you need help with Blogging, Social Media, Marketing Funnels, and Paid Advertising. Check out his PeoplePerHour Profile.
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