This wave tumbled my son like it had no conscience and spit him out unharmed but shaken. Then it happened … fear set in.
His arms, normally strong and paddling fiercely, became physically weak, flimsy, almost paralyzed, as if saying, “I’d like to surf you, wave, but if it doesn’t work out, hey, that’s cool – because I’m kind of scared!”
He was trying, but not really trying, because the fear made him weak.
Fear has played a large role in my freelance business, and it wasn’t until I got over some of it that my business started to thrive.
I think you have fears too … we all do. But ask yourself what you could accomplish if you shed those fears and achieved your full potential. Would it be better clients? Higher earnings? A lifestyle that had more time and space for purpose? I’d like to share a few fears that sabotaged my business in the early years and how to overcome them and start earning more.
Fear #1: Prospects will walk away if I charge too much
At the beginning, I was desperate to get paid for my work (the keyword here is “desperate”). By the way, clients have this crazy radar where they detect desperation and somehow want to pay you less because of it. And do you know where that desperation comes from? You guessed it … fear.
Here is a tip to keep in mind. All clients are not right for you, so every person that you talk with will not necessarily be a good client. And that’s OK!
If you get resistance after sending a quote, find out how far away you are from the budget. For example, let’s say that you quote $1,000 and the client wants to pay $100. That won’t work. But if you’re only a couple of hundred dollars off, maybe you can modify the scope or billing terms to meet their budget. Can they pay upfront or pay faster? Can they extend the deadline? There is a lot you can do to make things workable.
But please, once you send the quote, let it go. Don’t be afraid or fearful, because the worst thing that might happen is the client will say no, but they might say yes, or you can negotiate. All of these outcomes are fine. And best of all, you won’t waste your time on low-paying work and instead are free to market for better-paying clients.
Fear #2: I don’t have any special writing credentials, or I didn’t go to college
Let me tell you a story about a writer. This person liked to write but didn’t major in English and didn’t have a single writing job prior to starting her freelance business. This woman had decent writing skills, but honestly, nothing special. So when she started her writing business, she felt like a fraud, like a client would call her up and say, “I just found out that you’re not a real writer, you’re an impostor!”
If you haven’t guessed already, that writer is me, and the voice that kept telling me that I sucked sabotaged my ability to earn well. But once I got past those fears, I started to land better work and secure jobs that easily paid $100+ an hour. And I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve been freelancing for over 10 years, and not once has a client ever asked where I went to college or what I studied. Do you know what they want? Writing samples. That’s it. So get out there and start creating amazing work!
Fear #3: I need to work at a discount starting out
There are benefits to doing your first few projects at no cost if you have zero writing samples or want to position yourself in a new niche. But after those initial samples, there is no reason to work at a discount. Why?
When I started out as a technology writer, I had no technology writing experience at all. None. But one of the agencies that I worked with had a client in that space, so I wrote a few blog posts. I then leveraged those blog posts to secure projects working for some of the most recognized technology brands in the world.
The bottom line is this: Use those samples as a step. Once you get a couple under your belt, leverage those samples to get work for a bigger and better client. Put a limit on the amount of work that you’ll do at no cost or low cost to get samples. Even better, add one condition to those freebies and say, “Hey, I’d love to do this project at no cost because I’m getting experience in this niche. I plan to do amazing work, and if you’re happy with my work, I’d be delighted if you’d consider referring my services to a few colleagues.”
Fear #4: Prospects will be annoyed when I reach out to market my services
During the early years of my freelance business, I did a lot of marketing. But I always had this nagging feeling that I was bothering people. After a while, I realized that was totally untrue.
I started receiving lots of emails saying things like, “Your timing is perfect. We need a freelance writer but haven’t had the time to look.” And you know what? Since they need a writer AND they don’t have time to look, if you do a nice job presenting your experience and samples, you will get the account. So before that next round of marketing, tell fear to take a hike and remember that you are in business to help clients and there is someone out there just wishing that you would reach out.
Fear #5: If I ask for more work, my clients will think I’m desperate
I had this idea that if I asked my existing clients for more work, they would think that I wasn’t good enough to be fully booked. So I sat quietly, hands in my lap, waiting for work. Or I’d do more marketing when the low-hanging fruit was right in front of me! So you can imagine my surprise when I reached out to an existing client saying that I had some extra time in my schedule and asked if there was anything I could take off their plate. Amazingly, they assigned another $3,000 in work, and all I had to do was ask.
Offering to help your existing clients with more projects does not make you look desperate; it makes you helpful.
Fear #6: Following up on overdue payments isn’t polite
Talking about money makes my skin crawl. I can talk about the project and the work all day, but in the beginning, putting together quotes was really hard for me and following up on overdue invoices was even more painful. As a result, I avoided following up on late invoices. Instead, I’d say, “My check is a few weeks late, but they’re working on it.” And you know who doesn’t care if my client is working on my payment? The mortgage company.
Now I follow up the day after the payment is due because I’ve learned that cash flow is by far the most important part of your business. In most cases, you can follow up directly with the accounting department, so you don’t even need to contact your client directly.
A Few Last Words
I don’t think anyone truly gets rid of fear; it’s wired into the human experience. But that doesn’t mean that it gets to rule your freelance business. Take a moment and list your greatest fears. Maybe it’s failing or not landing enough clients. Maybe it’s that your work isn’t good enough.
Once you start naming and working out these fears, you will be amazed at how the quality of the clients that you attract and your earnings get much better.
Do you need help finding more clients? I recently shared the email template that generated over $24,500 in new revenue for free download. Enjoy!