Confidence can mean the difference between success and failure for freelancers. If you don’t believe you can deliver, you won’t. It’s pretty simple. Freelancers need confidence to succeed. But here’s a secret: You’re a magician.
Curtis McHale says it best (and invokes Gandolf in this video):
“You’re a magician. What you do every day, most people can’t do.”
You’ve got skills other people don’t have. You bring a different perspective that can change the game. Your insights and talent are unique.
You are a magician. You need to remember that as you approach your work, as you market yourself and as you price your projects.
Be confident. More often than not the work you do for people is so beyond what they could ever do themselves that it looks like magic. That’s why they turn to you in the first place. They’ve struggled with it and have no idea what they’re doing or don’t have the time to even think about it. They don’t care how easy it is for you—all they can see is how impossible it is for them.
So when you deliver? You are a magician.
And they’ll gladly pay.
You’re On Your Own
Freelancers need confidence because you’re on your own. You’ve stepped out from the safety of a salary (or are trying to) and nobody has your back. It’s scary.
Most of us have some level of confidence because we considered this work in the first place. That can be dangerous, because we can lull ourselves into thinking we are confident. When really we’re sort of confident, but not fully there. That’s when you have enough confidence to step out and go freelance, but not enough to truly succeed.
James Dalman lists a lack of confidence as one of his six reasons your freelance business is failing:
“Nothing turns away potential clients faster than a lack of confidence in your skills and abilities.”
Make More Money
Freelancers need confidence because it’s how you can make more money. When you’re unsure of yourself, you’ll say yes to anything and offer a lowball price because you just want the job. But when you realize your value, when you understand that clients think you work magic, then you feel justified in charging a lot more. Because you’re worth it. And you know it. Confidence.
Even if you’ve been freelancing for years and finding success, a lack of confidence might be holding you back. You’re afraid to charge more or aren’t sure about pitching a project. You play it safe and your freelance business withers when it could soar.
Do Better Work
Freelancers need confidence because that’s how you do better work. If you’re unsure of yourself you’ll always play it safe and deliver exactly what a client says they want. Now delivering what a client wants is important. But you’re the expert. Often clients don’t know what they want, and you need to have the confidence to help them understand what they need.
Maybe you don’t suffer from a lack of confidence, but from a lack of skill. Your work just isn’t that good. That’s OK:
“Don’t let that stop you. Use the fear to make the art better, to make the work worth noticing.” –Jeff Goins
It’s OK to be realistic about how good you are. Nobody wants false confidence. But if that’s the case, then you need to do something about it. Take some classes and strengthen your skills. Building confidence may require breaking free from a fixed mindset—I’m either good at this or I’m not, I’ll never get better—and embracing a growth mindset.
So How Do You Develop Confidence?
OK, freelancers need confidence. So how do you build that confidence? We’ve got four suggestions:
- Review Your Work: When you’re working project to project and just trying to keep up it’s hard to have any sense of accomplishment. But if you stop and look back at what you’ve done, you might be impressed. Take inventory of what you’ve done and be proud of it.
- Ask Your Clients: One of the best ways to build confidence is to get a pat on the back from your happy clients. You may look back on your work and just see a finished project, but a client might see a turning point. Go back to past clients and ask for testimonials. You’ll be glad you did.
- Connect With Others: You need to connect with other freelancers. Don’t be an island. By interacting with others and sharing work you’ll develop mutual respect.
- Work to Get Better: The one danger of connecting with others is you might feel like you don’t measure up (probably not true!). But even if it is true, that’s OK. Allow that feeling to inspire you. Learn from your fellow freelancers. Ask them how you can improve. Getting better is the best way to build confidence.