The fears of freelance, and why you are probably overreacting

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I was 24 years old, fresh out of college, and eager to begin my career in the creative arts field when I got the news from my then Art Director:

“Micah, CONGRATS, we love your work and would like to hire you as a freelancer for a 6- 8 month contract!”

My excitement turned into a crushing blow! I had ideas of what going freelance really meant, we really need you temporarily and when we no longer need you, then comes the shaft.

The truth is, there really is not a more stable way to make a living. The beauty and curse is that it’s all up to you. You can have as much freedom or income as you like as long as you are eager, persistent, willing to work, and out-think your competitors.

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

I am going to give you a few tips that I hope will help alleviate the fears and spark your interest in this growing community of freelancers. Perhaps, it will make you reevaluate the 9 to 5, but first let’s address the fears that I had that seem to be common amongst many that take the freelance route.

Fear #1: No one needs my services

Beginning a freelance career can be a little scary, and before you make the leap you need to have the above question answered.

When it comes to finding those that need my services I look at competition. The reason I do this is for two reasons: 1) To assess if my skill set matches, exceeds, or is lacking compared to my competition, and 2) See who is on their client list and see if I can offer a better service or deliver it cheaper.

The second can get dicey.

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

Do you really want to do the service cheaper, or is it going to be better to up-sell a service you have that your competition cannot?

Fear #2: I won’t find work

I recommend that you reach out to your family, friends, and former employers to help you get off the ground. Starting out can be really tough and I was lucky to have landed a good gig right out of college.

Any work early on is GOOD WORK!

I know this subject is a little controversial, but when starting out you need to take what you can get until you can get some high profile projects under your belt.

Potential clients, especially the good paying ones, want to see you are capable of performing under deadlines and with skill. You will not be able to convince them you are capable of doing the job based on portfolio alone.

I recommend taking work on the cheap, but only if you feel the project will propel your career forward. I always make sure the clients NDA will give me a reasonable time frame to show the work when completed.

Fear #3: I won’t have enough work

Daily consistent hustle is the key to bringing in regular freelance work.

The achilles heel for most people, and I have been guilty of this in the past, is to land a couple of good clients and you get comfortable.

Freelance is the ultimate game of being uncomfortable, and once you become complacent, bad things begin to happen.

If you start to find after some real hustling that freelance work isn’t coming in, it may be a good time to take a step back and either rework your resume and portfolio, or work on some projects that could possibly bring in some passive revenue.

Fear #4: Freelancing is not a stable means to make a living

I think there are huge misconceptions about stability.

What it is? Who is suppose to provide it?

Studios open and close, work comes and goes, and that is the cycle of commerce.

If you are freelancing, the beauty is you are responsible for your own sources of revenue. The key here is not to get comfortable with your streams of revenue.

If you are in design, what can you create and sell? You might start with selling images, templates, or action scripts.

I recommend you constantly assess and evaluate. Every 4-6 weeks I take a look at my passive revenue streams and determine what is selling, how much is it bringing in, and was the ROI worth repeating.

Fear #5: I am not good enough to offer services

Not everyone can be the Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA, but you still need a full roster to play the game of basketball. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses that can put you in the lead to win over clients.

You need to ask yourself:

1. What do I enjoy doing?
2. What am I good at doing?
3. How am I different?

Fear #6: My market is saturated

If market saturation is your worry, I am willing to bet there is a niche for your services that has not been explored yet.

All you really need to do is think outside the box and do a little research.

I like to take a pen and pad and mind map out my current clients, their competitors, the differences between them, and which one may have a weak spot that I can help turn into a strength.

Companies hire a freelancer or a consultant to improve their situation, not out of the kindness of the own hearts. If they are not convinced they will get a good return on their investment, they will not use you.

Being prepared and informed will definitely go a long way to helping you gain new clients, especially if the competition among them is fierce!

With a strategy in mind and a solid action plan, choosing to move into the magical world of freelance can be very stable and rewarding! Its up to you to execute, with commitment being vital to your success!

What fears do you have about freelancing? Let’s talk more in the comments!

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About Micah McNeely

Micah is a 3D Artist that began his career working on game cinematics and commercials for national TV spots. He has taken his experience and brought a creative touch to 3D printing for clients in major brands in sports, commercials, and advertising.

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Comments

  1. It’s Monday, 10:30 am in Toronto.
    Reading your content here helps me to be calibrated
    to what I need to do. I am a freelance artist and a story teller with a dslr and some really nice toys to help me stay relevant.

    Thank you for posting!

    Stills&Motion

    • Micah McNeely says:

      Glad it helped! It’s really difficult to stay grounded with all the noise they comes with freelance. Just keep swimming my friend!

  2. Thank you Micah for this post! Definitely addressed many of my worst fears as freelancers especially when was just starting out. How I wish my design schools (at least back in my day n’ age 15 yrs ago) had taught this. In fact, my bet is that design schools today still don’t teach this all-important skill of creative entrepreneurship. Thank you again Micah.

    • Micah McNeely says:

      I bet you’re right! Most schools want to teach design skill set not the business of survival! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

  3. Thank you for this article. It enlighten me a lot to hustle more everyday. I’ve been doing freelance without my fulltime remote work for 5 months already and it’s very challenging to get clients and pay my bills.

    • Thanks for reading! Yes, the struggles of freelance can be overwhelming and really drain the passion and creativity from you if you are not careful! When I am feeling overwhelmed, I take a breather and look for inspiration through other freelancers. If you have not already viewed the article “Say Goodbye to the Roller Coaster Income” here is the link
      http://millo.co/guides/revenue/
      I highly recommend you give that at look! Good luck to you, keep your head up!