When I first started writing as a freelancer, I polled my audience to find out what topics sparked their interest.
My number one request was information about how to work from home.
It’s taken me quite a while to write this post. First, I really don’t feel like an expert in the field. However, when I look back at my income last year, I’ve actually made a decent living as a freelancer. I’ve even landed a job in the five figures in 2015. One job! That’s crazy! I’m also set to do another five-figure job from the same client in the coming year.
The problem is that I follow the big guys who make millions doing freelance writing, so I always feel like a pretty small fish in this category. I also started up my freelancing business with some health issues that eluded diagnosis with nasty side effects like depression, exhaustion and brain fog. Thankfully, under the right doctor and a lovely little thyroid hormone pill, those mental blocks are now gone. However, I certainly haven’t accelerated this business as quickly as I should have based on those setbacks.
Even though there are people far more knowledgeable than me in this area, I will share what I’ve picked up in the next few posts. Today, I won’t get into the details of working as a freelancer. I’m going to talk about your mindset.
Now, stay with me if you’re a details person. This is actually one of the most important things to master.
What You See in Your Head Becomes Reality
Mindset is everything! It’s your self talk, your motivation, your inner fire and the filter through which you see the world. Without developing this mental muscle first, all the how-to and instruction in the world won’t help you.
Everyone plays a movie in their mind. Everyone talks to themselves in their heads. Everyone knows that voice.
What does it say? Is it encouraging and uplifting, or does it sound like your crabby great aunt that always said you would never amount to anything?
In this business, if you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t get very far. You have to believe in yourself and keep trying. You have to be willing to work harder than all the wannabe’s out there.
The internet is full of bloggers wanting to wear their bunny slippers instead of work in a cubicle. Readers have such an influx of information at their fingertips. If you don’t stand out in some way, you won’t get anyone to read what you write – no matter how stellar it is!
You have to bring your readers value. They have to gain something from spending time looking at your work, because there’s are a million other distractions begging for those clicks.
The biggest cheerleader has got to be in your own head. If not, you will get discouraged very quickly when you pour your heart and soul into your writing and no one even reads it. You have to understand that you must work to gain your reader’s trust and give them valuable information. You have to write with them in mind.
Find Your “Why?”
When you think about your desire to jump into this business, you must discover your deeper motivation and tap into that for your fuel. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to do this?”
Keep digging if the answer is the cliché, “To make more money…”
My guess is that isn’t actually your motivation. Let’s dig deeper. What will more money enable you to do?
For example, here’s my “why” for freelancing.
“I want to be a freelance writer so I can earn a living while helping other people find the same freedom that I’ve experienced. I want to use that freedom to enjoy life and not be bound to another person’s agenda. I want the freedom to work when I want, with whom I want, wherever I want. I feel that I can use my writing to make a difference in improving my reader’s lives by bringing them valuable insights and information, while becoming a better support to those I love because I’m not bound to any other expectations but my own.”
My “Why” Wasn’t Always Freedom
I think everyone’s journey into the waters of freelancing is both unique and similar. It’s unique in the different circumstances that push us there, but it seems that we all ultimately arrive at the same need for freedom. However, sometimes that pull isn’t enough to overpower the opposite force – security.
You see, my story revolves around my need for freedom and for security. I think a lot of people walk that tightrope. Unfortunately, the path I started down centered around security with the cushy corporate job and predictable income. Yet, I sacrificed freedom, which was my deeper motivator. I had to stay in a certain location, call on the customers that I was given and exchange so much of my time for money.
While that type of life may work for many people, it wasn’t a fit for me. My career choice conflicted with my inner values.
In contrast, freelancing offered me the liberty to work anywhere with an internet connection. My time was again my own. Yet, this also came with uncertainty. It wasn’t wrapped in the nice security blanket of a guaranteed salary. What if I couldn’t bring in enough clients? What if I people didn’t like my writing? What if… what if… what if…
The Final Push
Although I’d like to say otherwise, I’m not really sure I would have ever left that predicable paycheck except for one huge push from life. My husband went overseas to pursue his graduate degree. I was left holding down a job, mortgage, bills and our life back in Florida. I couldn’t go with him because our lifestyle was set to my income and we had bought our home in one of the worst-hit real estate markets right before the crash.
If only we could see into the future, we would have never bought that house.
However, after a year working and living alone to pay for a property that had lost half its value over the past seven years of dutiful payments, I said “Enough!” The pain point had reached its max. My “why” switched from security to family and freedom, and I left everything behind to live on a tropical island with my husband for the next two years.
That’s why I love freelancing!
I could work just as easily with my bunny slippers snuggled up next to a roaring fire in the dead of winter, or with my bare feet buried into the sandy shoreline of a beach. I can travel wherever the mood takes me, and I no longer have to ask anyone for permission. I am no longer bound to a location. My only necessities to run my business are a trusty laptop and an internet connection.
Leaving the life centered around security was the best move I’ve ever made! Did we suffer financially! Absolutely! I don’t recommend my extreme tactics. You can also build a website just as easily in your spare time in the evenings and still work your day job until the freelancing money replaces your salary. That’s the sane way to do this! I had just reached a point when I needed to take drastic action for the sake of my marriage and personal and emotional health.
However, there are also advantages to complete budget shock! You have no alternative but to succeed or you don’t eat. That’s a great motivator to keep going and building your business.
Not Looking Back
Today, I am so grateful for my freelancing work and my clients who continue to let me work with them to carry out their mission. The freedom found in this work and the ability to set my own schedule have enabled me to join my husband in building a real estate investment company. I would never have had time for the training or work involved in this new venture if I had kept to the corporate schedule of 60-hour work weeks and two-weeks vacation!
If you are considering freelancing work, I’m here to tell you that you can make a good living at it. You don’t even have to be a writer! There are so many avenues in freelance that are very profitable!
And you don’t have to just work in your bunny slippers. You can work in your hiking boots, your bare feet, sandals or high heels. You can work from home, from a plane or, as in my case, from a tropical paradise. The magic is that it’s completely up to you!
I would encourage you to first make sure you have the right mindset and believe in yourself. My next suggestion would be to figure out what you would like to do with that drive and choose your freelancing profession. We will get into this more in my next post.
Until then, let me know about your experiences with the freedom and security dynamic. Do you feel your mindset muscle is fit, or could it use some work? What’s your story? I’d love to hear it! Please share your journey in the comments below!