Just started freelancing? 3 key ingredients to success

“Freelancing looks like the perfect work-at-home arrangement for many people. It offers flexibility and the chance to ‘be your own boss.’ You can set your own rates, pick your own clients, and only do the work you want to do.

While it’s true that these are very real benefits of freelancing, it’s not the whole picture. Freelancing is also a lot of work… real work. There are no overnight success stories in freelancing, because it takes time to build your business and really become successful.

For many, that end result of success is worth all the hours required to get there. But for some, for whatever reason, it’s not. For every successful freelancer out there, there are others who totally washed out and weren’t able to make it.

What is it that sets the successful freelancers apart from the rest? There’s a combination of factors and every situation is different, but over the years I’ve noticed a few trends. Here’s part of what sets successful freelancers apart:

1. Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is when you make something non-negotiable, and you don’t let yourself off the hook even when you don’t feel like following through.

Freelancing isn’t easy. It’s easier than some jobs, sure, but there’s a lot that goes into getting a freelance business off the ground.

From marketing to client interactions to deadlines and project management, there are lots of moving pieces when you’re freelancing, and a lot of them aren’t necessarily fun. It takes self-discipline to keep going when the situation isn’t ideal.

One of the keys to maintaining your self-discipline as a freelancer is to remember why you started. It surely wasn’t because you had nothing better to do than to wrestle with your website, figure out how to work a P&L, and send out a bunch of pitch emails just to get rejected again and again.

Figure out your end goal. What does success look like to you? How would your life be different (and more fulfilling) if you’re able to get your freelance business off the ground? Is it the freedom to travel whenever you want? Do you want to pay for private school for your kids? Is freelancing is a way to keep supporting your family without harming your body?

Once you’re clear not only on what you want to accomplish by freelancing, but why, it’ll be easier to lean on your self-discipline to get you through the tough patches. That’s why you’ll hear successful freelancers talk about “knowing your why.” Having your “why” defined will be a big help when it’s time to get to work.”

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