How to Overcome Fear to Grow Your Freelance Business
1 year ago
It’s time to talk about fear today, guys.
The crippling fear of rejection that holds you back from pitching high paying clients and requesting more money for your work.
So to start, I’ll just put it out there:
I have anxiety. By anxiety, I mean the “real” kind of anxiety.
Not the one where your palms occasionally sweat before a major presentation or job interview.
I’m talking about the one where you worry so much and so often that you forget what you’re worrying about. Then when you finally remember what you’re geekin’ out about a whole new thing pops up to put you on edge.
Why am I telling you this?
Clearly, I’m an expert at worrying and fear. So, I understand freelancing and asking for more money forces you to be a little uncomfortable and it’s scary. If you’re shaking in your boots, I’ve been there.
In fact, I’m still here. I’ve found a few tactics that help me manage the fear of getting rejected because success in this biz depends on me being fearless.
Tactic #1: The Best and Worst Test
This tactic is my favorite and I got it from the True Life episode Meet the Benjamins several years ago. (Side note, I’m a doc fanatic).
In the series, two brothers with autism are anxious about throwing a party with friends from school. Their therapist takes them through a genius exercise that I still use to this day. She asks:
What’s the best that can happen? Now, what’s the worst that can happen?
When I’m feeling anxious, I work through these scenarios for myself to find exactly what has me in a tizzy.
Example? Last, week I was hesitant to send a cold pitch introduction email about my editing service to a business owner because I was getting in my head. The exercise went like this:
- The very best that could happen? The person replies, loves the service, and hires me.
- The very worst that could happen? They email me back and cuss me out for spamming their inbox.
You’ll usually find the very worst that can happen is either unrealistic or not that bad. In this case, the person never messaged me back, I’m sure the email is sitting right in his trash box.
But, I’m still alive, right?
Even if he did cuss me out through email, it really wouldn’t be the end of the world. And the possibility of the best thing happening (gettin’ more income) is worth taking the risk that I’ll get a nasty email.
Tactic #2: Stop Procrastinating, Man
OK, when you’re feeling fearful or anxious about something you have a tendency to procrastinate. Am I right?
“Oh, I’ll just block this out and take care of it later when I’m in a better head space.”
I’m going to be honest with you. You can’t block it out and there’s no such head space. That little voice of self-doubt or fear at the back of your mind doesn’t go away. Procrastination only prolongs the fear of an unknown outcome.
Just get it over with. Deep breath in. Breath out. Rip the band-aid off.
Another one of my true life examples.
Raising rates with current clients is one of the easier ways to get high paying ones. They know that you deliver and you’ve already built a relationship.
I tried to raise rates with one of my first clients ever who didn’t pay me nearly enough. (Here’s another fun example of my very first client). They asked me (through email) to take on a new project and I refused to low-ball myself like I did in the past. After all, I turned in quality work, on time, and was praised for it.
But, I knew a pay increase was unlikely.
So of course I procrastinated the entire day feeling fearful, anxious, and pooping my pants too scared to respond. When I finally replied to the request with my rate, I felt better immediately because the ball was no longer in my court. But, I got the clap back email I expected pretty quickly. In summary, they felt the work wasn’t worth paying me more for and someone else would do it for less.
Low-blow. But, I thought:
Dude, I sat around all day panicking about getting rejected and I’m OK with the outcome because I know I deserve more money. HELLO!? Who does that?
I find that procrastination is also a major problem for aspiring creative business owners who aren’t quite ready to give their idea a shot. Starting something new never gets less scary, I can attest to this.
So, do something.
When you stop hemming and hawing to face your fears it’s actually a relief. Sure, it’ll feel uncomfortable at first and there may be struggles along the way. But, it’ll never feel comfortable no matter how long you wait.
Tactic #3: Know Your Numbers
When I first launched my freelance writing business, I wasn’t so great with the financial part of the game. Pitiful really because I’m a money and personal finance writer.
(What part of the game is that, right?)
The bottom line is I was too scared to look at my income and expenses daily and weekly, because I was fearful of missing my goals and then feeling bad about myself.
Basically, the same issue above: when fearful of something, we tend to avoid thinking about it at all costs.
But, I found out pretty quickly that having a crummy money mindset isn’t going to lead to a flourishing freelance business no matter how hard you pound the pavement looking for work.
Most of the tactics on this list are ones to help you conquer scary parts of being a creative freelancer like putting your talent out there and accepting that there will be some rejection.
But, even if you put all of them into practice, you won’t be able to grow and manage your income if you’re scared of confronting the dollars and cents.
Understanding we deserve to get paid and paid well is a common problem for women.
Confronting your money mindset means not being afraid to charge what your worth, asking for a raise when you deserve one and making sure that each month you’re keeping track of your income and expenses to see where you’re at.
The tool that now helps me keep the income and expenses of my biz organized is FreshBooks.
Seriously, before using FreshBooks I had an antiquated Word document invoice and Excel spreadsheet money management system that nearly drove me insane.
With FreshBooks I can set reoccurring invoices, quickly put in expenses and see exactly where my moolah is coming in from.
Trust me, facing the financial aspects of the job (even if you’re not where you want to be) will make you feel a lot less anxious, fearful and uncertain of where you’re headed.
Tactic #4: Humble Yourself
Now, this isn’t intended to question your character. I’m talking humble in a different sense. Say, you’re anxious or worried about pitching a client, quoting a high rate, or introducing a premium service in general. The underlying fears are something like:
They won’t find value in my service. They won’t like me. They won’t think I’m credible. They’ll make fun of me, my work, and my website. They’ll laugh at me. They’ll send me back a nasty email. They’ll gossip about me to other people.
Bottom line: Me. Me. Me. Me. You’re worried about what people think of you.
The fact is, no one thinks about or dissects you as much as you do. Boom.
Not to say you’re unimportant, but people have their own insecurities they’re wrapped up in. So, if by chance you do get turned down for a gig or a rate increase, it’s nothing personal. No one’s tearing you down behind the scenes. And if they do you sure as hell don’t want to work for that person anyway.
Gosh, when I remind myself of this each time I have an insecurity freak out it’s like a weight lifts. Ya mean?
How Do You Feel?
Now it’s your turn. Do you get nervous when you pitch to new clients or raise rates? How do you overcome the nerves to get the job done?
(As a follow up to this post I wrote about the WTF feeling in business.. you know that feeling when your heart starts racing and you realize you have no idea what you’re doing in business? Yea, more on that feeling here.)
If you’re interested in learning how to break into the freelance writing industry (that’s my hustle), you can get my 30-page guide here.
… and P.S.
New to freelancing and side hustling?
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