As freelancers, independent contractors, and entrepreneurs, we all know that success boils down to one thing: mentality. Setbacks and roadblocks are bound to happen, and as a freelancer, you’re constantly being forced to prove yourself to new clients—which is why it’s so important to have a strong mental game.
Whether you’re years into your career or just starting out in the solo entrepreneur world, here are five mantras to take to heart if you want to be successful (and content!) in your field:
I believe in what I create.
It may sound rudimentary or corny, but believing in your product is crucial. You’ll never be able to make a product or business successful if you don’t believe in it or, worse if you feel meh about it. When you have a clear vision and you’re hell-bent on creating something unique, there’s no reason not to believe you can succeed—you are, after all, the only one who can do what you do.
I will put myself out there.
You’re an introvert, you’re not good at selling yourself, you’d rather walk on a bed of flaming-hot needles than go to a networking event, we get it, we get it. But one of the most important parts of being a successful freelancer is knowing how to put yourself out there—and doing so consistently. Depending on your industry, use the appropriate social media channels to cleverly promote your work, engage with your followers, and score new clients. Marketing yourself isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s always worth it. (This Medium post has some excellent tips on how to do just that.)
I won’t work for free…unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Obviously, all work should be paid. Full stop. The tricky part, of course, is that things aren’t always that simple when you work for yourself. For instance, if you have a project that needs publicizing (like a book), you may be asked to be on a panel or to speak at an event for little to no money. If this could be good publicity for your project, it’s probably worth doing—it’s up to you to decide that. However, if someone offers you an unpaid work opportunity that won’t benefit you in some tangible, financial way, that ‘opportunity’ should be declined. None of us should be working for free or contributing to a culture of unpaid work; that’s just bad business.
I will give myself a break.
When you work independently, you should be planning your vacation time as carefully as you plan your budget or your day-to-day schedule. Don’t fall into the (American) trap of working all day, every day, just because you can. Breaks are important for your health—and for your business.
Written by: Justine Harrington
Justine Harrington is a freelance journalist, essayist, and copywriter for travel and lifestyle brands based in Austin. Her work has appeared in Fodor’s, Backpacker, USA Today, the Austin-American Statesman, Austin Monthly, Austin Woman, Misadventures Magazine, and elsewhere.