A few years ago, I wrote a blog about why I’m not a “freelancer.” It was a post that weighed heavily on me for a long time–years–before I was able to actually hit “publish” on that sucker.
The term “freelancer” is widely used in my industry and in other service-based industries. It’s what we call ourselves when we try to make some extra cash or break into a new niche. But it’s not a term you should use, in my humble opinion, if you’re looking to grow a sustainable business.
Why is “freelancer” such an undesirable word?
One and Done
Let’s look at it in terms of businesses you know and love. Take Whole Foods, which offers fresh, organic and healthy(ish) grocery options. It’s a recognizable, international brick-and-mortar business that people shop at regularly. And the same customers tend to go back time and time again. Compare that to a pop-up vendor at a local farmer’s market. Same organic options, smaller selection. And chances are, you’ll shop with that vendor once or twice and then move on to another vendor at the next market you visit.
In general, freelancers aren’t seen as sustainable business owners. They’re the people you turn to when you have a project that needs doing, but someone you don’t think of when you need long-term help.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Freelancers aren’t always seen as sustainable biz owners. Stop calling yourself a freelancer.” quote=”Freelancers aren’t always seen as sustainable biz owners. Stop calling yourself a freelancer.”]
Do This Project
You’re working on a launch and you need a sales page or Facebook ads to sell the thing. Let’s say it’s a course. You hire a copywriter or ads expert to do what you (think you) need, but then don’t see the results you expected. What gives? When you hire a freelancer for a one-off project, you lose the expertise you get from hiring a business owner. You may not need those ads or that sales page, depending on the type of product or service you’re selling. Not every project is built the same and there’s no secret formula to have the launch you want.
Those of us who have worked as freelancers likely resonate with these examples. Because we’ve done those freelance projects and not felt great about them after the fact. I know I’ve been there.
So how do you change your mindset away from “freelancer” and toward “business owner” or “expert” or whatever you choose to call yourself?
It’s not easy, but it’s do-able. I’m proof! Want to know how I did it?
I stopped taking on projects that didn’t give me the autonomy I wanted–projects that were simply assignments from a client or agency that left little room for creativity and that 1:1 client interaction I crave.
I started saying no to projects I wasn’t excited about and to clients who didn’t respect my time or expertise.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”My biz grew when I said no to projects I wasn’t excited about and to clients who didn’t respect my time and expertise.” quote=”My biz grew when I said no to projects I wasn’t excited about and to clients who didn’t respect my time and expertise.”]
I made sure that I “went to work” every, taking the time to shower and do my hair and makeup–even if I worked in my pajamas. Which I still do. No shame in that!
I invested time and money in developing a website and systems that made my business look more professional and put my clients’ minds at ease. Point to note: Those systems are forever a work in progress, and that’s okay.
I created packages and standardized pricing and told prospects what my fees were, rather than letting them tell me what the projects pay.
I started marketing myself to the people I wanted to work with, knowing that I needed to attract prospects and projects to me rather than solely seek them out.
I reached out to people I followed, admired and wanted to work with. Then I built relationships with them based on getting to know them–not to sell to them. That lead to some of my favorite clients yet.
And the most important thing I did? It’s something I did just recently and it’s shifted my mindset even more. I started to think of my business as that dreaded three-letter word. J.O.B. This was a hard one.
When you have a job, you have a supervisor who keeps you on your toes. When you are the supervisor, it’s a little more challenging. But the reality is that my business is my job. My clients count on me to show up every day and my mortgage company counts on me to pay my mortgage every month. If I’m not “going to work” every day, I can’t do either.
I’m SO curious to know what you call yourself. Are you a freelancer? Or have you shifted your mindset and seen growth in your business?