Type in fear + freelancing in Google and you’ll get more than 10 pages of links. Taking the leap from a full-time job to self-employment does require courage—or, at the very least, confidence in yourself. A move halfway across the country helped me set up a do it now mentality and finally make the jump.
Even after accomplishing that initial leap, fear can remain a freelancer’s constant companion. When Susan Johnston asked freelancers to share their concerns, the number one anxiety-inducer was fear of going broke. And freelance web developer Amber Weinberg’s FreelanceFolder post The Fear of Freelancing: Why You Could Be Hurting Yourself garnered more than 50 comments from readers sharing their worries.
I thought I’d conquered my fears when I launched a.k.a writer and landed my first client. Although I realize I have control over going broke, I am much more careful about spending money and I’m more conscientious about having living expenses covered well in advance. So, aside from a very slow start to 2010, I thought I was in good shape.
While developing an estimate for a new client, I found myself hesitating. The number was one of the biggest I’d ever quoted. In double-checking my math, I felt very sure about the estimate. It was an accurate and fair assessment of the work I’d be delivering. Why the hesitation?
A quick review of invoices from the last year revealed an interesting trend. Every single invoice was for nearly the same amount—or for much less. Somehow, I’d developed a mental cap. I had good projects and good clients, but I had seemed to reach a plateau. Why?
After giving this some thought—and talking with my favorite sounding board (a.k.a my honey)—I realized that I’d internalized a belief that writers get to do what they love, but that doesn’t mean they make money. I brought home nice paychecks as a full-time writer for a big corporation, so I somehow assumed that the trade-off for striking out on my own would be struggling to make ends meet.
But, you know what? It does not have to be that way! I was holding myself back. I had a solid case of Fear of Success. I really enjoy copywriting and I love it even more as a freelancer because of the variety. With hard work and happy clients, why shouldn’t I be successful?
Once I realized what was holding me back, I finalized the estimate for the client—and promptly landed the project. Then the craziest thing happened: several companies contacted me for copywriting and I landed those projects, too. My workload and project quality is soaring. For my fellow theatre geeks, I’d describe it as finally taking flight, much like Elphaba when she finally “defies gravity” to fly in Wicked.
Have you experienced overcoming a mental block or fear, and then noticed a significant change in your work? What was the fear and how did you conquer it? How did you figure out what was holding you back?