3 Rules you must set for yourself to thrive as a freelancer

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Why would anyone choose an uncertain career path that involves facing fears, having to work harder than ever before and not actually knowing if you’ll be able to bring in enough income to continue living as you’d like to?

What is it that drives these crazy types of people?

I believe it’s freedom.

Freedom to live life on your own terms.

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Freedom to choose when to work.

Freedom to work say “No thank you” when a client isn’t the right fit.

Freedom in one form or another is what we all want and I believe that’s what drives people to chase a freelancing career.

Unfortunately, just announcing that you want to be a freelancer doesn’t provide you with this freedom.

Most freelancers will find they have to work harder than ever after they start working for themselves.

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There are no office hours and although you’re able to say no to certain clients, you’ll most likely won’t do because you’ll need the money, especially in the beginning.

So how do we go from freelancing and working so hard to living the dream and achieving the freedom we crave?

We start developing and implementing a business mindset.

I believe three specific business mindsets are the key behind achieving freedom as a freelancer.

1. Start thinking like a business instead of a person

While you might not feel like you’re running a business, that’s exactly what you are doing.

When you started working as a freelancer you went from being an employee to being a business owner.

Why is this distinction so important?

Because a business only cares about surviving and making a profit whereas people care about our feelings.

You will be scared, you’ll be worried, you won’t feel like working and you’ll experience a whole variety of fears you never knew you had.

You can’t let these feelings affect you.

Your business doesn’t care that you’re scared of pitching a new client, that you’re afraid of raising your rates or that you don’t feel like doing the work today.

You need to stop thinking like an employee and think like a business owner.

You can’t allow yourself to be driven by how you feel in the moment.

I failed miserably in regards to this in my first year of freelancing.

I stopped looking for clients when I had enough and I turned down clients wanting to work with me because I was afraid of coming up with an offer and having to deal with them.

Thinking like an employee instead of a business cost me more than 50K in revenue my first year.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Keep the momentum going and keep growing. That’s what a business would do and what you need to do if you one day wish to be free.

2. Focus on what actually builds your business

Now that you’re running a business you are most likely searching for ways to get more clients, guides on making the perfect pitch, or how to convince prospects to choose you over another.

There’s so much to learn and we tend to think that we need to do everything that’s being said out there on the internet.

Just because you can get customers through Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, e-mail, Google Adwords, the phonebook, etc. doesn’t mean you have to.

All successful businesses understand that they can’t do everything which is why they only focus their limited attention on the lowest hanging fruits.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say I need more clients ASAP.

I could do as the people I follow on Twitter are saying:

• Start a blog
• Post on Twitter 5 times a day
• Focus on Instagram
• Do a vlog
• Write an e-book
• Cold call companies in my target niché
• Grow a mailing list

While any of these tactics could potentially work, it would be more than a full-time job pursuing any of these marketing channels.

And I would end up only scratching the surface of each of them.

I wouldn’t be able to connect deeply with my target audience and all my efforts would be in vain.

Instead, I could focus on the lowest hanging fruit.

For me, the lowest hanging fruit is cold calling as that can give me results here and now.

Let’s say I spend 3 hours a day cold calling companies. I don’t have to do that for long before I’ll be able to get some interest.

So instead of chasing every opportunity out there, focus on one at a time.

3. Only do what’s essential to the growth of your company

Remember I told you to take on more clients than you needed in the first part of this article?

Here’s the reason.

What many freelancers don’t think about is where they’ll be in 5-10-15 years.

To be honest, I don’t think more than a few percent of all freelancers are planning to freelance 50 hours/week for the rest of their life.

I imagine that most of us would like to cut down at some point and enjoy life outside of the laptop.

The only way of doing this is to put your business on autopilot.

Just imagine that instead of chasing clients, the clients came to you asking to work with you.

Or that instead of you doing the work you had someone else take care of it.

True freedom is having a business that continues running and growing even though you’re not a part of it.

If you plan on freelancing for the rest of your life, this means automating what can be automated and outsourcing what can’t be automated.

Start thinking of everything you do as being a part of a process.

You’ll most likely have a marketing process, a sales process, a work process and an accounting process.

To achieve the freedom you crave, you need to automate all of these processes.

And if it can’t be automated, then hire someone to do it for you.

Think in processes and automate or outsource.

That’s how you go from being a hard working freelancer to achieving the illusive freedom you dream of.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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About Kim Langholz

Kim Andre Langholz is a Growth Hacker, business coach, and digital nomad. Through Freelanceforaliving.com he teaches freelancers how to grow their business using simple business tactics and behavioral psychology. You can also find Kim on Twitter or Linkedin.

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Comments

  1. All my clients have come by referral…do a good job and your clients and vendors will tell/show everyone…AND they act as a filter to cull the clients you don’t want. No business card, brochure or website…been doing this for 30 years and still getting new clients.

  2. I have been freelancing for past 16 years. This is exactly how you must think every waking hour of the day. Very well said.

  3. kirsten cook says:

    This is great, everything i have been feeling lately with wanting to freelance and get my self out there..

  4. Thanks for the encouraging post. There is a huge difference in the way people act when they are “just an employee” vs being the business owner. You can usually decipher which ones are which at networking or business events.

    Once you cross the threshold of being a business owner, you care WAY more than a paid employee does. The employee usually gets the same amount of money regardless of their performance (to a point, of course), whereas the business owner’s income is directly tied to the success of their efforts.

    I needed this extra reminder today to act like a business owner 🙂

    • Kim Langholz says:

      Thank you for your comment Mindy 🙂
      We all need a reminder from time to time. It’s not something we can change overnight but by constantly reminding ourselves we’ll get there.

  5. Great article. Specifically, I like the customer getting part. Even though I know cold calling is the fast way to get customers and have done so in the past, I am still afraid of cold calling. : )

    • Kim Langholz says:

      I feel your pain Beck 🙂

      Just remember that cold calling is just one of many marketing methods.

      I’d rather do something half as effective as cold calling, if that means I can get things done instead of being paralysed by my fear.

  6. Great article. Reminds me of the discipline I seem to lack at times. I need to have the mindset of being a bona-fide business owner as opposed to just “playing” freelancer. Thanks Kim!