Common myths that hold freelancers back from succeeding
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The other day I was reading with my nephew about the most visited attractions in China. First place? You guessed it: The Great Wall of China.
In many books you can find out that The Great Wall is one of the human-made structures that can be seen from the Moon.
But it’s not true.
But here’s the amazing thing: even though it's not true, when I was a child I used to believe this so-called fact. Human nature tells us that if something is written in a book on on the internet, it must be true.
Like every topic, freelancing has its own myths that are believed by thousands of people. If I had listened to these when I first started freelancing, I would have probably given up by now.
Let’s start with our first suspect...
Myth #1 : Clients seek only "penny stock" freelancers
The short answer about this one: it's a totally misplaced statement.
Some people only seek cheap work. But you know what? Some restaurants offer low-quality dishes.
I prefer to eat only where I know the food is good. One of the life's secrets is that you get what you expect.
This doesn't apply only in my case. Check out this job that my buddy Mihai got a while ago on Upwork:
Myth #2 : The market is overcrowded and there isn't any space left for new freelancers
I encounter this myth on many blogs but I have to say, it's simply not true.
Let me show you why.
What would you say if I told you that Mihai taught me how to freelance ?
I had been thinking about the possibility to become a freelancer but something was stopping me...that fear of failure and insecurity. I thought "Who would want to hire me ? I have no experience and barely know how to code."
But after a couple of debates with Mihai and some research on the internet, I found a rather surprising fact: there are millions of clients on freelance platforms, many hiring people that are newbies in their craft.
Here's the interesting part: once I started growing as a freelancer, Mihai started to raise his rates and get more attention from clients, even though he would be considered my "competition".
He went from jobs like this one:
Let me explain the ins and outs of this process.
On a previous project that I had with a startup, I did a good job by coding their MVP and guess what ? They hired more developers and designers, because they saw more potential on their startup and needed a bigger team.
The truth about "competition" is that it creates more possibilities for you to be hired.
So unlike the "real-world" jobs, freelancing doesn't rely on the first-come, first-served rule. We all get a slice from the pie.
Which means that your competition is actually helping you succeed.
Myth #3: "On some months you'll have projects, on others you won't"
This whole freelancing business is based on one main idea: there is a 24/7 open market where you just need to pick a project and go with it. It's a global market in full expansion.
This is the competitive edge that freelancing has over the old ways of finding a job. If you are good at what you do, you can always find work that you enjoy and help other people with their businesses.
There are thousands of jobs posted every second on platforms such as Upwork, so if you’re having some "dry months," you can improve your craft and find new clients.
Myth #4: “When you're just getting started, pick any job that you can find”
This sounds like a perfectly natural thing to do. But like the previous myths, it's a trap that stops most freelancers who want to get from good to great.
Analyze yourself from the outside. In this situation, you'd look desperate, willing to accept any client that may lower your fees or even ask for free work.
This is not a winning mindset.
And if you don't build the proper mindset, you can't build yourself a successful career.
Did you notice any freelancer that after a couple of weeks of scraping, gets on the top 3 positions and has an endless stream of quality clients ? Me neither.
Fortunately, there’s a better way to freelance. It relies on something simple that can be done by anyone.
Instead of taking any project that you come across, think about what you can offer to your clients.
This is hundreds of times more powerful, because when you offer the best quality that you can provide, you have power. It's true even for those who are just starting out.
Let's take one my first paid projects as an example. I worked with a businessman to code a simple app where the user could drag objects in a custom scene and create a setting.
I didn't ask myself "Will I get this project ?" because my mind would automatically say "No, because you don't have experience".
Instead I said to myself, “I can offer the client enthusiasm, fresh ideas, dedication and initiative.” That was the start of my freelance career.
What about you?
I'm curious : what other freelancing myth did you notice that doesn't look like it's true ? Tell us about in the comments below. Or, tell me if you used to believe in one of the above myths.
It’ll help other freelancers see the true side of online work and besides this, it's fun to debunk misconceptions.
Whether you participate or not, please promise me one thing: don't go to space just to stare at The Great Wall of China. Sadly, you can't see it from there.
Stefan Ionescu is the founder of FreelanceHive.net, where he shares psychological tricks to established and wanna-be freelancers. Get his free tactics that allowed him to create a part-time, $5000+ per month freelance business with multiple repeat clients.