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Contrary to what many people may think, most freelancers don't fail for lack of skill or expertise. Most freelancers fail for three primary reasons.
As with most anything in life, not physically and psychologically committing yourself to something 100-percent can make or break your short-term and long-term success.
Building a successful freelance business is no different.
If you don't continuously put in the time and effort (the physical commitment) to build your freelance business, and if you don't put yourself in the mindset of "going all in" (the psychological commitment), your chances of achieving short-term and long-term success (whatever that means for you) probably won't land in your favor.
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Lack of self-awareness
Self-awareness is defined as the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize yourself as an individual, separate from external factors and other people.
In other words, self-awareness means being totally honest with yourself regarding your strengths, weaknesses, pleasures, motivations, pains, and personality traits.
This is not about what others think about you, or how they view you; it's about what you think about yourself and what you want for yourself, irrespective of other people's thoughts and opinions.
At the end of the day, freelancing is about you, so make it about you.
The first step to doing so is to be real with yourself (self-awareness).
Once you've done a self-awareness inventory -- a detailed outline of your strengths, weaknesses, pleasures, motivations, pains, and personality traits -- you can either:
- Try to improve upon your weaknesses and perfect your personality imperfections, or
- Hone in on your strengths and pleasures, and build upon them (In other words, you can go from good to great, and then from great to remarkable.)
A lot of people will contend that these two approaches are not mutually exclusive. These people are right, but I wholeheartedly believe that the people who are great at a few things will always out-compete the people who try to be good at a lot of things.
Thus, if you focus on becoming good (or trying to become good) at the things that you aren't so good at right now, you'll be the person who is good at a lot of things.
But, if you focus on becoming great at the things you're already good at, and the things that you actually enjoy, you'll be playing in the major leagues, while the people who are good at a lot of things won't make it passed the minor leagues.
You're running a business, after all
Many freelancers fall into the trap of not looking at and therefore treating themselves like a business.
As a result, many freelancers leave a lot of money on the table and thereby inhibit their growth potential.
Certainly, when we think about a business, we might associate that sort of thing with a traditional office and employees, which most freelancers don't have.
However, a business is simply based on the process of a transaction: accepting money in exchange for products or services.
Looking at and treating yourself like a business doesn't mean that you need to open up a traditional office and hire a handful of employees. All it means is that you need to proactively:
- Market yourself
- Build your personal and professional brand
- Learn and develop methods to sell your products and/or services for maximum value
- Create and adhere to a budget
As part of looking at and treating yourself like a business, it's also important to understand and leverage the supply and demand of your time -- meaning, the more clients who want your services (the demand, which is based on time) and therefore the less time you have to supply to prospective clients, the more you can charge for your time and services (which are basically the same thing).
Your ability to leverage the asset of time -- and the supply and demand of it -- will likely make or break the success of your freelance business.
Better known as Social Media Josh, Josh Hoffman is the creator of The Social Media Freelancer. He also runs an international social media consultancy out of Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.