Hey Freelancers! 7 Reasons You Aren’t Taking Risks, Right Here

by Alicia Sparks on March 3, 2014


Working for yourself in any capacity takes guts. There’s no way around it and, after a decade of it, I can tell you it never gets less gutsy.

Sure, after a while, seeking out new clients becomes less intimidating. Drafting up your latest newsletter isn’t as nerve wracking. Delivering project estimates doesn’t cause as much sweating.

Hell, setting your prices doesn’t cause as much sweat.

However, if working as a freelancer never gets less gutsy, how do these things become easier? Well, YOU become more gutsy and YOU LEARN HOW TO TAKE RISKS.

So, how do you get to that point? How do you strengthen your weak little guttlings and start taking more risks?

You have to get over these seven reasons you’re weak in the first place.

1. You aren’t used to this.

I used to be a nine-to-fiver working for someone else; I get it. Clock in, clock out, get a paycheck. I didn’t set my own fees; I was paid an hourly rate or salary the manager set for me (whose manager probably set for her, aaaaand whose manager probably set for her).

So, you aren’t used to this business of working for yourself, but you’ll only get used to it with each day that passes. There’s no way to speed this up; you just have to get up each morning and work at your writing, editing, graphic designing, or whatever it is you do; look for clients; finish and submit projects; and end the day knowing you did your best.

Basically, you just have to keep on keepin’ on.

I can promise you, though, once you DO get used to it, the idea of going back and working for someone else — THAT becomes what you’re not used to!

2. You “don’t know how.”

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are: chances are, you’ll run into jobs you don’t know how to do; sometimes, you’ll run into jobs you aren’t willing to learn how to do.

Whether you learn those new skills is up to you, but always choosing to stay ignorant will only multiply your fear and won’t do anything to help you take risks.

3. You have no support.

No matter who you are, where you are, or what kind of business you’re starting, this simply isn’t true.

Oh, don’t come back at me with “My parents don’t believe in my, my spouse thinks I’ve lost it, my friends can’t understand why I don’t just stay at the bank.” I never said your support came from your immediate circle.

From professional organizations to friendly blogs, forums, and social media accounts, there are hundreds of thousands of support groups out there. All you have to do is find the one that’s the best fit for you and soak up all the support you need.

4. You’re afraid of money.

Yes, you read that correctly: You’re afraid of money.

You’re afraid of setting your fees, of asking for what you’re worth, of determining what you’re worth.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I lost a book editing gig last week because my quote was “too high.” For some (like this potential client), it might’ve been too high. She just couldn’t afford it. For others, though, it might’ve been just right (or even a bargain!).

You can’t control what your potential clients can afford, but you can control what your time, services, and product are worth. Stick to that and find the clients who can afford you. Before too long, those clients will be finding you!

For more information on setting rates, check out Setting, Increasing, and Sticking to Your Freelance Writing Rates (it applies to everyone).

5. You’re lazy.

Sometimes, it’s easier to apply for one job than the other; but damn, wouldn’t you just love the other one… Still, who has time to spruce up that resume, gather the proper kinds of samples, and write a stellar cover letter? You do, lazy ass.

6. You haven’t set any goals.

How can you take risks if you don’t even know what you’re shooting for?!

7. Afraid of rejection and failure.

It happens; get over it. You weren’t born perfect, and chances are you aren’t going to ever achieve perfection (especially given everyone’s definition of “perfection” is different).

Try to learn WHY you were rejected or failed at your goal — and sometimes, it’s no substantial reason — make that reason a learning point, and move on.

Do we have any veteran freelancers or business owners in the house? How about some who already are working their way through learning to take more risks? Why don’t you share some of your experiences in the comments below with the newbies?


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lulu March 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

Hi Alicia, I am new to freelancing and have had a bit of a weird experience. I will try to keep it short.

I started off with Freelancer.com and Elance.com – I landed jobs but quickly learnt that there are players that offer the lowest rates to an employer then hire you to do the job for next to nothing and then they do not pay you. More on Freelancer than Elance. Elance is more competitive and I have only landed one job which has an average rate and still going strong. The other job I just did not get paid.

What I have taken away from this is that you need to establish an online presence – I do not currently have one and have started on Google+ will then move to my own website like yours – thanks for the guidance.

Good luck to all newbies!

Alicia Sparks March 13, 2014 at 8:10 am

Hi Lulu!

I don’t have much experience with Freelancer or Elance, but I’ve heard many stories similar to yours. I’m glad you did eventually land a more ongoing, average-paying gig, though! That’s going to be worth its weight in gold come “show us some experience” time!

It’s SO COINCIDENTAL you should mention establishing an online present, because that is exactly one of the tips I offer in next week’s post about making money as a freelancer (which, is exactly related to your comment!).

Thanks so much for chiming in Lulu! I appreciate it and I know others will, too.

Justin March 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

Great advice all around, and bluntly (but still comically) presented. About to share this on my social media outlets.

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