How to survive freelancing
You’re interested in finding out how to survive freelancing?
I’m glad you found this then, because freelancing is a big bad world if you don’t get some help from the beginning.
Once you start freelancing it either goes incredibly smoothly. Or it feels more like the seventh ring of hell, where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Everything stresses you out and 98% of the time you feel like crying.
For me it was hell.
If you haven’t read what is freelancing, the positives and negatives of freelancing, or how to be a successful freelancer you might want to give them a quick read. Before you dive any deeper into the big bad world of freelancing.
In order to survive as a freelancer you need to realize that freelancing is entirely a mental game.
You have to be mentally strong.
To reach success you’re going to have to battle through some common storms that every freelancer experiences.
Every freelancer will experience at least one, if not all of these storms – multiple times on their journey to success.
- You’ll go on a long lucrative streak of work, that seems as though it will never end, then boom, it ends.
- Your bank account verges dangerously low, it drops way down and then down some more.
- At the first sign of trouble the doubt of others will begin to creep in, “This freelancing thing isn’t going so well is it?” This will especially If you have a significant other.
- Or going through long period of wanting to do nothing but lie on the floor and avoid all work and responsibilities.
Here’s how to survive freelancing and make it through these storms.
The first thing you’ve got to do is set goals, and put them in writing. The majority of people will pause at this point, and then completely ignore this instruction, for three reasons:
- You’re lazy.
- You’re not used to setting goals for yourself, you have a manager in work that set’s your goals.
- Writing a goal scares, you, because that means you have to commit to something.
I always used to ignore when any one would tell me to right down a goal, “yeah, yeah I’ll do it later,” but a funny thing started to happen when I started to write down my goals. I started to achieve them.
If you’ve read how to be a successful freelancer you will know that we’ve already wrote down the clients we want to work with, the projects we want to work, the income we want and the lifestyle we want freelancing to prove. This has given you a clear end point but how do we actually reach that end point? We do that through short term goals goals, that we can achieve that will put us closer to our ideal life.
The hardest part of goal setting is to decide what you actually want from freelancing.
Here is the easiest goal setting method I know off. It only takes a few minutes.
- Envision your ideal day
- Compare your current day to your ideal day
- Prioritize and execute short term goals until your current day is your ideal day.
Your goals need to be measurable, meaning you can see if you’ve achieved them or failed miserably.
This which involve being as specific as possible.If you say”I want to earn $10,000 this month”. At the end off the month you can check if you did you earn $10,000. If you didn’t you’ve failed – this is what I mean by measurable.
It also helps if your goal is a numeric value, so you can see how far you have to go, for example complete the project in 3 days instead of saying you will just complete the project.
Your goals should and hopefully will change over time, if your goals are changing over time you’re getting a clearer vision of what you actually want in your life, don’t resist change.
With a list of clear goals, you’ll have a clear plan of attack of what needs done. This keeps your mind focused, you’ll be motivated and you’ll avoid procrastination. You’ll be too busy moving towards these goals to even recognize that little voice of self-doubt in your head.
With these goals you’ll be able to clearly see if you’re on the right track, but more importantly they will show you what you’ve already achieved.
The next thing is to set some standards for yourself as a freelancer
The guy or girl that will sleep with anyone from the bar, homeless, 60 years older, or passed out – quickly loses the respect of their friends, because no one respects someone that doesn’t have standards.
Freelancing is the exact same. If you don’t set standards for yourself you’ll lose the respect of clients, and you’ll end up regretting the decisions you’ve made as a freelancer.
You need to create a list of standards for yourself and write them down.
Let’s imagine a freelancer writer called John. John wants to write blog posts for start-ups. John hated his job so he quit, to pursue his dream of being a writer.
His client is a lovely man called David. David hires John to write blog posts for his startups, John does an amazing job and they are both very happy.
In fact, it was such a good job that David hires John again. However, this job isn’t to write a blog post it’s to write some sales copy.
John has never done copy-writing, but he says yes anyway because John has no standards for himself and he wants to keep David happy – because he pays well.
John didn’t like this job it took a long time and he really doesn’t enjoy copy-writing. The problem is David loves his work, so he decides to hire John for some legal work.
David has some legal documents that he needs John to look over “nothing complicated” he promises, he knows that John will do anything and he’s a great writer so it should be easy.
John hates every second of the work, but he has to say yes, John has bills to pay and David is his only client, because he never had time to work with anyone else because he always did what David asked.
David loves that John will do anything without complaining, so he just keeps piling on whatever he needs done.
John is feeling down and trapped, David pays well but this work sucks – it’s worse than his old job. John now has two options he can quit and hopefully find a job, or he can continue doing work he hates.
John quit freelancing and never tried it again, he complains that freelancing is rubbish any opportunity he gets.
This will happen to you if you don’t set standards for yourself as a freelancer.
Having standards from the offset will help you avoid the situations that slowly develop over time.
Make it clear from the beginning what you will and won’t do as a freelancer.
If you don’t take my advice now you’ll think you’ll only do work you enjoy but if you don’t have standards wrote down, you will quickly find yourself trapped in a situation that you could have easily avoided.
You think “Dam, I should have listened to that Irish man and his infinite freelancing wisdom.”
Here’s some sample standards you could set for yourself:
- I will not provide free or spec work for any reason.
- I will charge more if a job needs to be rushed.
- I will not work on weekends.
- I will not answer one email after 6pm.
- I only want to work in the health and fitness niche.
- I only want to work on projects where my hourly rate is at least $75.
- I will not work unless my client refers to me as “the almighty one.” (Maybe this one is pushing it)
These are your standards, have some fun writing your own, if you don’t break these you will reach your definition of success and you will be happy along the way.
Most freelancers are out of control, doing every job, any job and working with no idea of what success means to them or standards for themselves, that’s why the majority of freelancers are earning minimum wage and not killing it like they should be.
I can see that you’re not like all the other freelancers so you’re going to have clear goals and standards. But more importantly you’re going to have them in writing.
This will help you survive as a freelancer and not go down the deep dark path that most freelancers end up getting lost in.
Obviously you will have to break some of these standards sometimes. – I’m not an idiot I know the reality of freelancing especially in the beginning.
The idea here is that one day in the near future every job will coincide with your standards.
So if you have to break one of your rules to land a big client in the beginning, so be it.
But the fact you have standards created and wrote down, will ensure you follow the correct path that puts you in the right direction towards the life you want.
It’s important to set your standards right now before you begin.
If you’ve only just started as a freelancer, take a step back and figure out your standards before you go any further.
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, and you’re already deep in the dark side, slowly start to correct that by figuring out your standards. Once you’ve figured out your freelancing standards slowly start to work your way back to the light. To do this you have to slowly get your clients to understand the new freelancing standards you live by.
Inspire for these standards now and adhere to them later. If you’ve got bills to pay you may need to break these standards, but try to stay true to them as much as possible.
Once you have a clear goal and a list of standards in order to survive as a freelancer you have to do three things.
Firstly invest in your freelancing career,
You’re already investing in your freelancing career by reading this blog post, but if you want to be paid the best rates you have to be the best, to be the best you have to constantly be improving on your skill. To do this you have to start learning.
One of the biggest steps you can take is to start reading more, as the most successful people are those who read the most.
Here’s my best book recommendation right off the bat for any freelancer- I recommend reading the Fred factor as it will teach you the power of passion in your work. It will teach you how to take your freelancing work from ordinary to extraordinary. If you haven’t read books much in the past, it’s a great book to start with. It’s small, funny and enjoyable read so it should be easy enough to get through and you’ll learn a lot.
It took me three large coffees and a couple of hours to bomb through, and I loved it.
Next up you should start going to seminars, go to training weekends, and watch YouTube tutorials related to your skill. You should constantly be trying to improve.
Finally, if you haven’t already you should take my free course that will show you the exact process of starting freelancing from nothing to earning $100 an hour on upwork.
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- Includes actual screenshots and the techniques I used to land a $1500 job.
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Secondly, develop self-belief and recognize that this will be tested.
From your very first job you’ll have a little voice in your head that will slowly get louder over time if you let it.
“You can’t do this”
“You’re not smart enough”
“You’ve had your fun freelancing let’s go back to the real world.”
Sometimes this voice will take over for minutes, days, weeks even months. You need to have the mental strength to realize this is self-doubt creeping in, you may be having a bad spell but it’s only going to be temporary.
You will be challenged and tested with many ups and downs in your freelancing career, it’s inevitable. Don’t let temporary self-doubt force you to quit. This is why you need a clear of goals, so you can see what you’ve already accomplished.
You need to develop your self-belief and recognize that it’s going to be tested.
Finally, Notice your success.
If your schedule is packed full of projects you love, recognize and celebrate that. When the cash flow is steady – enjoy it. When you find a great client “sing to the heavens“.
Live in the moment when everything is going right, freelancing is tough so you need to celebrate your little victories.
In order to survive as a freelancer, you must invest in yourself, develop strong self-belief and recognize your success no matter how big or small.
So make sure to sign up to the free course, and check out the Fred Factor.
You should start to see that being a successful freelancer all comes down to your mental strength.
Your mental strength can be broken down into how well you’re performing and how stressed out you are.
There are four different states you will find yourself in as a freelancer, you will jump from state to state in no particular order, some states you want to be in some you don’t. The amount of time in each state is not set, it could be a few days, weeks, months or even years.
What are the four mental states of freelancing?
The first one is Low performance with low stress.
If you’re not performing at a high level and you’re not stressed out, this can only be because of one thing – You’re not doing enough.
If your day just consists of checking your email, checking Facebook and feeling deflated. You’re in the low performance low stress mind set, this is not a good state to be in.
To escape this mind-set, you need to focus on investing in yourself.
You need to invest in yourself books, courses, and seminars to get you passionate about life and work, simple, if you can’t afford these. You can buy books used, I’ve already offered you my free course, and you can find free tutorials, so don’t use that as a bullshit excuse.
If you start to invest in yourself you’ll get excited about your work and life in general.
The second state of mind you can find yourself in is low performance, high stress.
This is the worst state of mind and can be caused by a variety of things:
- You’re trapped doing work you hate.
- You’ve accepted to many projects.
- You’re working with a client you hate.
You’re stressed out and you don’t feel like there is anything you can do about it. If this is the case, you need to develop your own sense of self-belief.
You need to get some motivation, read some inspiring stories, get pumped about life, read an inspiring biography or watch a YouTube video, but in any case you need to light the fire because in this state of mind you can be close to quitting freelancing all together, forcing you to settle with a mediocre life.
Make sure you have set clear goals for yourself to obtain.
Don’t think of all the work you have to do as one collective, break it down into bite sized chunks and don’t multitask.
Next up is the high performance, high stress mind set.
The high performance high stress mind-set is where you’re hustling 24/7 you feel like a wall street broker, your life is fast paced and its fun in the beginning.
This usually happens when everything starts to fall into place, you start getting the clients you want, the projects you want and the money you want – the only problem being it all happens at once.
Your main enemy is self-doubt.
You’ll start to question if you’ll ever complete the work at this rate, your stress levels will start to rise. If your using job websites like Upwork you’ll start to worry that your job success rat might suffer with so many projects on.
The trick to dealing with this is to expect it to happen from the beginning, you will be stressed out if you’re trying to become a successful freelancer – it happens. Instead of freaking out, realize that it won’t last forever, for the next short period of time put in more work and effort, in the knowledge that you’ll be able to relax in a short while.
Finally, the magical mind set.
In every other mind set we’re either trying to escape or ride it out, the final mind-set is completely different. We want to aim for this mind-set, what is this magical mind set?
This mind set is high performance, low stress.
When you’re here you want to recognize that you’ve made it to where you want to be mentally. You will be absolutely smashing your goals, with little to no stress. This can only be achieved and kept over a consistent period of time with clear goals to achieve, and standards that you live by as a freelancer.
This is the mind-set you want to be in as much as possible, and if you’re not here you should be aiming to get here.
If you’ve invested in your freelancing career, worked on your self-belief, and constantly recognized your own success. You can live rent free in this mind set. You won’t be here forever, enjoy it while it lasts.
When you find yourself star to move to one of the other mental states, aim to get back to the high performance, low stress mindset as soon as possible.
In order to survive as a freelancer, you need to be mentally strong and take action.
Take action after reading this post as it is one of the most important things you can do as a freelancer, write down clear goals and a list of standards, begin to invest in yourself pick up the Fred Factor and sign up for my free course below, start working on your self-belief and begin to recognize your success no matter how small.
Make sure to comment with one of your goals below, writing them for the world to see will make it so much more powerful, because people can hold you accountable and you may even inspire someone to change their life or meet someone with the same passion. Who knows what your one comment could do, so make sure to comment with one of your goals.
If you missed the previous post how to start freelancing – you can find it here. Although I doubt that quite a lot if you’ve read this entire thing.