It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I apologise for going radio silent, but the second half of 2019 was so busy I barely had time to catch my breath! Life as a freelance, hey? One minute you have no work, the following one you need to hire an entire team! Now if you have read my August update, you will know that I want to share more about what it means and what it is really like to be a freelancer. An honest view on the ups and downs of being self-employed, by yours truly!
So what could be a more appropriate topic to start with than building confidence when you first start freelancing? After all, confidence is what gets you last through tough times, it helps build your resilience and it gets you the clients.
Stress, rejection, and quiet times are big parts of a freelancer life. At first, it can be overwhelming – ‘Will anyone ever believe in me and hire me?’, ‘Can I financially support myself for a month if I don’t secure a new client?’, ‘Does my day rate cover for all the out of scope work I have accidentally committed to?’, “Am I simply failing?’.
As a recently-ish established freelancer, the first months of uncertainty were very tough and my confidence was, at times, very low. It is hard to not compare yourself to others when you are surrounded by ‘I’ve made a 6-figure salary in 3 months’ stories the media keep pushing our way.
What I found the most helpful to build my confidence back up was to talk to more experienced freelancers. I quickly discovered that even the ones who have done it for 5 or 10 years were facing the same challenges. What made them more confident and resilient was that they had learnt to accept, embrace and plan around the quiet times. As stressful as it gets, it eventually becomes part of the working routine.
A quiet couple of weeks in August? Keep yourself busy and spend them sorting out the garden.
Not enough clients? See how you can diversify your revenue streams and/or update your portfolio to highlight your latest achievements.
Feeling like you are burning out? Make sure to always be able to afford to take a mental health day or go for a long lunchtime walk.
Accepting that these challenges are part of the job has really helped me relax and build my confidence back up. I know that I may have some quiet weeks and I save for these. I know some clients may need more hours than they think, so I regularly review my daily rates to cover for unplanned extra time. And, if my pipeline looks a little low, I attend some networking events to create opportunities rather than wait for them at home, alone.
Planning to feel more in control is the best way to be a more confident freelancer. Also, whenever I feel discouraged I ask myself “where was I/what was I doing a year ago?” this helps me gain some perspective and appreciate how far I’ve come and how much I’ve achieved in the past 12 months.
Choosing to be a freelancer means choosing to be your own best cheerleader. So when you feel down, stop, take a breath, appreciate all the things you’ve done so far, and get excited to know that there will be other opportunities coming your way. And in the meantime, if it is quiet, do all the housework you’ve been postponing for the past 12 months.
If you are a freelancer as well, I would love to know what you do to keep your head up when your confidence is getting low!