When you decided to go freelance, you became part of a massive workforce that now includes more than 70 million freelancers in the US alone (as of 2022 reports). You weighed the pros with the cons and determined it was the right move for your career, family life, or mental health.
Yet no matter where you are along the freelancing continuum – whether you’re brand new or 10 years in, full-timer or side-hustler – fears will inevitably creep up. The challenge is to acknowledge them, reframe them, and work with them.
Of course, easier said than done.
We want to recognize some of the common fears we hear about from our freelancers and offer a few tangible tips to conquer those fears head on.
Fear #1: Failure
Failure looks different to different people. For a new freelancer, failure may look like not landing a client in their first month of business. For a more seasoned freelancer, failure may be defined as earning less money this year than the previous year. Anytime you’re working toward something important, you risk not accomplishing what you set out to achieve. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help minimize this fear of failure. Set SMART goals to gain some momentum, and adjust as necessary.
Example goal: Reach out to 10 potential new clients and add 20 people to my network this month.
Including specific measures that are truly attainable helps you remain focused on your end goal. Download this goal setting worksheet to help you think through your goals, set actionable steps, and reflect on your progress. It should help you step right over those fears on your path to success.
Fear #2: Self-Promotion
Talking about yourself can feel really uncomfortable for many people. Posting about your business on social media opens you up to being judged, appearing narcissistic, or embarrassing yourself. Pitching your services means you might be rejected or ignored.
If you let these fears stop you from putting yourself out there, it will be nearly impossible for your business to grow. So reframe your fear. Instead of thinking “What if no one likes my post?” ask yourself “What if people do like my post?” Focus on things that will move you forward rather than getting stuck on things that will hold you back.
Fear: If I post on social media, no one will like it. I will feel embarrassed. It will feel like a failure.
Reframed fear: If someone likes my post, I can reach out to them by sending a request to connect. I can then start a conversation, thanking them for supporting me and asking more about them.
Now you’ve turned your fear into a plan. That shift in mindset makes all the difference.
Fear #3: Imposter Syndrome
That persistent doubt, worry that you don’t really know what you’re doing, fear that people will realize you’re a fraud. Imposter syndrome can consume your thoughts and prevent you from starting and growing your freelancing business. Here are two ways to help keep that imposter syndrome in check.
Step 1: Connect with other freelancers. Did you know that 70% of people in the U.S. have felt the effects of impostor syndrome? That percentage may be even higher among freelancers. So surround yourself with people who know what you’re going through. Find a few trusted individuals and share how you’re feeling, ask questions, and test out ideas. You’ll quickly learn you’re not alone and, instead, will have a group of people cheering you on.
Step 2: Never stop learning. Prioritize learning, whether that’s studying an industry, taking a course to strengthen a skill, or reading about ways to improve your business. There are countless resources – even free ones – out there to help you navigate your freelance journey (Uncompany is one of them!). Knowledge is power, and that power leads to confidence.
Confidently move toward those fears
Your success is reliant on your confidence. Set SMART goals to gain momentum. Reframe your fears to feel more in control. Connect with other freelancers to build a support system. Learn as much as you can to boost your expertise.
If you do these things regularly, your confidence will soar. That confidence is then portrayed to your network, which will attract clients, which will lead to great work, and referrals, and higher rates… you get the idea.
Fears don’t magically go away the longer you run your own business. It’s your job to stand up to them, even if it’s uncomfortable, and move forward.
As George Addair says, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.”
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