Every week I have a conversation with at least one person who’s about to throw in the freelance towel.
And every week I listen to people tell me that the problem with their business is everyone else’s problem. The market is too saturated, nobody pays decently, it’s hard to find freelance work- the list goes on. First, none of these accusations are true. Never has there been more six-figure freelancers anywhere EVER. When I started ten years ago if you pitched a freelance position to a business who was looking for a F/T employee – most people would laugh you out of the office. Today, they listen to the pitch and will hire freelance if you’re the best person for the job.
The issue is not the market. It’s the daily habits and mindset that are killing your business. Here are the most common and what you can do about it.
You Don’t Pitch
The difference between a $13K freelancer and $130K freelancers?
Six-figure freelancers pitch. They pitch well and they pitch often.
The majority of seriously struggling freelancers I run into have one thing in common – they aren’t marketing themselves and pitching their services to companies AT ALL. Their strategy relies solely on the feast or famine of whatever the job boards are serving up.
That isn’t business ownership – that’s simply applying for low-level employee work. And that will single handedly sink your freelance enterprise.
You Have an Employee Mindset
You may say you’re a business owner – but until you’re actively creating business, you’re a self-employed employee.
And the difference between an entrepreneur and self-employed employee are massive.
Entrepreneurs find ways every single day to connect with their perfect client. They’re consistently creating new and exciting ways to market themselves, get their message in front of the right people and again pitch their services.
Yet nearly ALL (more than 90%) of the struggling freelancers I talk to aren’t taking responsibility for creating clients daily. Most of them are waiting to see what pops up on a job board, hear back from a referral, or simply waiting for the phone to ring.
This is literally the equivalent of Macy’s saying “wow we have so much great stuff to sell everyone. We’ll check online to see who needs our merchandise before we sell it.”
That sounds nuts right?
And it’s just as crazy for your freelance business.
You MUST pro-actively work on creating clients everyday.
You Don’t Follow Up
Look, I get it. I used to be a follow up weenie. Somebody wouldn’t get back to me and suddenly I’d have this entire narrative devoted to why they weren’t emailing back.
It included (but not limited to) – they think I’m too expensive, maybe I annoyed them, I was too pushy, they clearly hate me.
Guess how much money I made thinking from those storytelling sessions?
Following up is critical to your freelance success because people don’t just sign on the dotted line after you send your pitch. They think about it, they take their kids to soccer, they get swamped at work, they push priorities around. They simply and sometimes forget.
And the ones who aren’t interested – may just not be interested right now.
It is NOT the prospect’s job to chase you down or remind you that three weeks ago you guys had a nice chat about some sales copy. If you want the business, follow up often and keep in contact whether they want to buy from you now or next year.
When I changed my follow up routine (and believe me I have a system) my business increased 50%.
You Can’t Control Your Moods
Moods cost money.
When I first started my business the ups and downs of new business ownership (read: stressed out and broke) had me on the roller coaster of ALL the feelings. One minute I was thrilled and proud of myself, the next I just wanted to be like everyone else with an attention span functional enough not to get kicked out of college.
The result? My mood dictated what I got done on my to-do list. In other words, business was about as stable as I was.
If this sounds like you – you MUST check your emotions at the door when it comes to your business. Your to-do list requires you to show up and market yourself, connect with clients and build that business REGARDLESS of how you’re feeling.
With that being said, why climb the hill if you can take the stairs? Invest time and leave space for the things that make you FEEL good. The healthy stuff – eating well, physical exercise, meditation, walking everyday – something that will level those moods and keep you facing forward.
You DO The Right Things Inconsistently
Every now and then I have a new client that sits across from me, arms folded scowling when I tell them a few strategies they can try. Their response to me is “I’ve already tried that. It didn’t work.”
Dig a little deeper and what you find is someone who sent two cold emails, heard nothing and gave up. Or wrote three blogs posts (sporadically) and then gave up. Instead of employing a strategy, they sampled business-building techniques the way someone cautiously samples the seafood at a 24 hour buffet.
This is a numbers game. A targeted numbers game, but a numbers game nonetheless. Three emails a month isn’t going to get you anywhere. Choose a few client-building strategies that you love and stick to them – every single day. Have daily numbers you are committed to hitting. You need 100+ emails a month not 3. You want to speak to two people a day – not two a week. Start paying attention to numbers and conversion rates. You don’t have to be a maniac – but you do have to show up every single day for this to work in a BIG stable way.
You are Chronically Negative
These people are argument focused rather than solution focused. You could tell a chronic negative thinker that the sky is blue and he would say “but is it really?”
Without mincing words this is the most destructive mindset a person can have and it’s usually rooted in a lot of fear. Fear of failing, fear of showing up, fear of failing after investing so much work. Fear of not living up to impossible and self imposed high-standards.
As a protection these people become disciples of skepticism and cynical thinking. In a business you MUST be solution focused – there is NO time, leeway or luxury for looking back at what-ifs or surrendering to every boulder that rolls onto your path. To run a successful freelance business you have to face forward and work on the solutions. If you’re looking in any other direction or indulging negative thought patterns – your business won’t get off the ground, because quite frankly – you won’t make it.
A coach once told me that the biggest success usually follows a series of small, millimeter changes. While it’s true that these six habits can wreck havoc on your freelance business – they are easy fixes that just require you to commit to making the change.
Never having to look at the inside of a cubicle ever again.