Launching a freelance career can shake the confidence of the most successful person. Competition is fierce on bidding sites and the internet in general. Freelance writers submit articles to magazines in hope of publication credits and pay. Self-employed programmers offer their apps for sale and approach companies to fulfill their needs remotely. Designers hawk their skills on social media and their own websites with rich galleries and ever-lowering price lists.
The ability to put yourself out there and offer your talent or skill to professionals and businesses takes confidence. At the start, that can be in short supply. No matter what type of service you offer, these six tips can help you find the guts to go for gold in your new freelancing venture.
1 – Start Small
A New York Time featured article is a pipe dream for most freelance writers, and a software scriptwriter working from his kitchen table is unlikely to sell his code to a Fortune 500 company. Targeting the ultimate gold-standard in markets will frequently lead to utter defeat, which damages your confidence even more.
Get your foot in the door with easier targets. Submit to places you know you have a good chance of acceptance. Smaller blogs, local businesses, and publications that pay one dollar instead of one-hundred per word are more likely to say, “Yes.” Every “Yes” you get will fuel your self-confidence more and more.
2 – Perfect One Step at a Time
If you come to a new freelance career looking at the big picture, you may quickly get overwhelmed and experience fear paralysis. Instead look at each step that will take you toward your goal and learn, practice, and perfect (or as near as you can get) each one before moving on to the next. Knowledge destroys fear and builds confidence.
For example, a freelance writer needs to research markets, craft query letters, negotiate contracts, write the article, work through rounds of edits, and handle invoices and payments. As a whole, this seems like a huge amount of studying or you are at risk of getting it all wrong. Approached one step at a time, however, it becomes much more manageable. If you become an expert at finding great markets, that is one thing off your fear list.
3 – Surround Yourself With Community
Your mother might think you draw wonderful pictures on the computer, but that will do little to instill real confidence that you can market yourself as a freelance artist or designer. Get on social media, message boards, and join groups with fellow self-employed professionals. Networking can not only help you learn more about how to succeed; it can give you the confidence to get outside your comfort zone and try something new in your career.
4 – Don’t Scoff at Self Help
While quite a few people poke fun at the self-help industry or raise their eyebrows at people who read the books and practice the techniques, there has been real scientific research that shows cognitive and mood improvement from some of the methods. Really, how can repeating affirmations or taking ten minutes to meditate hurt you any?
Confidence is, after all, a mindset. The lack of it is not a disorder, vitamin deficiency, or curse. While those suffering from clinical depression, anxiety, OCD, and other issues need outside help, self-help techniques can help everyone feel more self-assured and eager to launch into a new project.
Another large part of this is realizing that you will fail to land coveted jobs or sell your services to the ideal client and being okay with that. Acceptance of this fact can lead to confidence that helps you get back on the proverbial horse and do what it takes to succeed the next time.
5 – Constantly Challenge the Boundaries of Your Comfort Zone
Building self-esteem is impossible if you never do things worthy of esteem. In order to become a more confident freelancer, you need to achieve things you were not sure you could. The comfort zone, by definition, is a very comfortable and easy space to be in. Push the boundaries, challenge yourself, and celebrate the successes you achieve out there.
For some this may mean making bold advances toward dream clients once per month or so. For others, simply tip-toeing across the comfort line. The key is to recognize your efforts and the good results.
6 – “Fake It Till You Make It”
A man or woman in a power suit gets respect. Freelancers have the freedom to shlep around in their pajamas all day if they want to. Professional businesses have slick websites with domain-specific email and professional design. You can easily get away with a free host and a template.
Pajamas and cheap websites make you look and feel like you are not taking the freelance career seriously. If you lack confidence, pretend you do not. Present the best possible face to the online world you can. The feedback will provide external validation that you are a professional.
It will help you psychologically too. The things you make an effort for will be the things you come to appreciate. If you want to be a successful professional freelancer in any field, act like one. Your emotions will catch up soon.