To run your own freelance business, you can’t afford to be your own worst enemy. There are times when it gets tough having your work scrutinized, waiting for responses from clients, prospecting for new business, and putting your foot down. But these things come with the territory when you freelance, so to get on with business, you need to get over a few things first.
Don’t let these things hold you back in your freelancing business:
Sensitivity to criticism
The beauty of what freelancers do is generally in the eye of the beholder. Clients are subjective…their unique styles, likes, and dislikes will play a role in determining whether or not they like your work. There’s no room for Prima Donnas in freelancing. Accept that not everyone will love all of your work all of the time.
You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. No freelancer is. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes – but own them and do what it takes to make them right. Most important, recognize if there are areas of business where you make mistakes repeatedly. You might need to take more time when tackling them or outsource tasks when possible.
Dislike of networking
Want to get quality clients? Network, network, network – online and in person! I know a fair share of freelancers who very much dislike mixing and mingling in social settings. Avoiding networking activities puts you at a disadvantage. Face-to-face networking can give you a major edge as prospects hear your voice, see your smile, feel your personality up close and personal. You’ll need to embrace social media, too. Used consistently, it builds professional relationships and goodwill because it makes it easy to show support of and interest in prospects and clients.
Freelancing requires a willingness to wait. It takes time to build a portfolio of work, a solid base of clients, and a reputation as the “go to” pro in your field. Sometimes it can take years before a contact turns into a client. Beyond that, the day-to-day stuff requires patience, too. You’ll encounter prospects who don’t respond to your proposals, clients who don’t get back to you with feedback on your work, and occasional payments that won’t arrive by the due date you posted on your invoices. Instant gratification is rare in freelancing – you need to develop a tolerance for waiting.
Discomfort at following up about client payments
That said…while practicing patience in most things, stay politely vigilant about following up on client payments that are overdue. Freelancers aren’t high-volume service providers who can afford to let payments go 30 days…60 days…90 days past due. I’ve found missed payments are not intentional and almost always an oversight. Generally, I wait 7 days past the due date and then send an email to inquire (always in a non-accusatory tone).
Traveling the freelancing career path requires the guts and gumption to put preconceived habits and inclinations aside. You won’t always find it comfortable to change your thoughts and practices. But after you start reaping the rewards from altering elements of your M.O., you’ll find it easier to get past the other things that might be holding your freelance business down.
What have you needed to get over to go forward in your freelance biz? What methods and ways of thinking have you found most difficult to set aside?
By Dawn Mentzer
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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