The Ultimate Guide to the Freelance Success Mindset
How to use your mind to build a stable, successful freelance business
Successful freelancers aren’t luckier or smarter than freelancers who struggle. And most of us didn’t know anything about running a business when we started out. But we do have the freelance success mindset.
What is the Freelance Success Mindset?
Like an iceberg, the freelance success mindset is hidden from sight. And whether you’re sailing in the Arctic or running a freelance business, ignoring what you can’t see usually leads to disaster.
Qualities of the Freelance Success Mindset
The freelance success mindset is made up of these qualities:
- Positive attitude
- Growth mindset
- Willingness to work hard.
All of these qualities are closely related. The more of each of these you have, the easier it will be for you to succeed in freelancing. The fewer you have, the harder things will be for you.
Why is the Freelance Success Mindset Important?
Having the freelance success mindset helps you learn what you need to learn and do what you need to do to build a stable, successful freelance business. It keeps you going when you’re overwhelmed, or when things just aren’t going well.
Compared to other freelancers, those of us with the freelance success mindset are:
- More successful
- Less stressed.
Can I Develop the Freelance Success Mindset?
All freelancers can develop the freelance success mindset. It’s not easy—because our minds are powerful and change takes time. But you can do it if you:
- Understand the freelance success mindset
- Learn how to shift your mindset from struggle to success
- Are willing to put in the time and effort.
Your Guide to the Freelance Success Mindset
Here’s what you’ll find in this ultimate guide to the freelance success mindset:
Each section has links to blog posts with more details.
To succeed in freelancing, you don’t need to be a genius like Ironman. You don’t need to have the endurance of Captain America or the speed of Wonder Woman.
But you do need one power that all superheroes have: Grit.
Be Determined to Succeed
Also called determination or mental toughness, grit is a determination to succeed—no matter what. Research shows that people with grit:
- Work harder to achieve goals
- Are happier
- Tend to be optimistic
- Are more resilient.
Never Give Up
Remember how Charlie Brown kept trying to kick that football, even though Lucy pulled it away from him every time? Charlie Brown never gave up. He had grit. He never gave up. Neither should you!
You can grow your grit, say experts.
Learn More About Grit and the Freelance Success Mindset
Read more about grit and how you can grow your grit in The Superhero Power You Need to Know About: Grit.
Grit helps you be more positive. That’s important, because as freelancers, we have more than our share of challenges and disappointments. Freelance life isn’t fair. And it’s definitely not easy.
Positive Thinking Helps Us Succeed
When bad things happen, positive thinkers look for ways to make the best of the situation. We believe in our ability to turn challenges into opportunities. We bounce back from challenges and disappointments.
And a positive attitude is contagious. Clients want to work with freelancers who are positive and colleagues want to refer work to us. We don’t have to work as hard to build our businesses because clients and colleagues are naturally drawn to us.
Negative Thinking Zaps Your Energy
But if you whine about how unfair life is, you’ll continue to struggle to make a living. No one likes to be around—or work with—negative people. And a negative attitude always shows. Building a freelance business is much harder because a negative attitude zaps your energy. And you’re likely to give up when things don’t go your way.
Learn More About Positive Thinking and the Freelance Success Mindset
Do you feel like a fraud, and worry that soon everyone will know that you’re not good enough? This is so common that there’s a name for it: imposter syndrome.
Many successful people, including John Steinbeck, Jodie Foster, Sheryl Sandberg, and Tom Hanks, have felt like imposters. Experts say that up to 70% of all people have faced imposter syndrome at one time or another.
Diagnosis: Imposter Syndrome
Over the years, I’ve coached hundreds of freelancers. Most of them lacked confidence in their ability to succeed in freelancing.
But when I learned about their background and experience, and talked with them, they usually already had most of they needed to succeed. And they always had more going for them than they thought they did.
Cure: A High Dose of Confidence
What the freelancers I’ve worked with needed most was the confidence to believe in themselves. They also needed to learn what to do to build a stable, successful freelance business. But that’s the easy part.
If famous people like Steinbeck, Foster, Hanks, and Sandberg have succeeded despite imposter syndrome, then so can you. There is a cure for imposter syndrome.
Learn More About Imposter Syndrome and the Freelance Success Mindset
Discover the cure for imposter syndrome.
Confidence is a belief in yourself and your ability to succeed.
The seemingly unshakable confidence of successful freelancers isn’t something we’re born with. We’ve worked hard, and often long, to build that confidence. You can too.
How Confidence Helps Freelancers Succeed
Confidence helps you build trust and make a great first impression. Trust is crucial, because clients want to work with freelancers who they trust, or who someone they know trusts. Colleagues who refer freelancers to clients will choose freelancers who are confident, because they need to trust a freelancer before making a referral.
So confidence helps you attract high-paying clients.
Confidence helps you deal with stress and meet challenges head on. It helps you keep going when things aren’t going well. And sometimes, things won’t go well—because freelancing isn’t easy.
So confidence makes your life easier.
When you lack confidence, you’ll be afraid to take risks. And you’ll miss some great opportunities.
So it will be much harder—maybe impossible—to build a stable, successful freelance business.
There are many ways to boost your confidence, including one that just takes two minutes.
Learn More About Confidence and the Freelance Success Mindset
Part of the reason many freelancers lack confidence is that most of us are introverts—or at least we think we are. Being an introvert makes having the confidence to market your freelance business much harder.
Are You an Introvert or an Ambivert?
But there’s a third type of personality: Ambivert. Ambiverts are part introvert and part extrovert. We’ve been around for a long time, but have only recently become widely recognized.
Surprisingly, there are more ambiverts than introverts or extroverts. And many successful business people are ambiverts.
Freelance Success Comes Easier to Ambiverts
Ambiverts are flexible and adaptable. We know when to talk and when to listen, unlike extroverts who tend to dominate conversations and introverts who are too quiet. These characteristics help us succeed in freelancing.
One of the greatest advantages of being an ambivert is the ability to shift between showing the strengths of an introvert to showing the strengths of an extrovert. And we can do this at the right time.
Marketing for Introverts and Ambiverts
If you’re actually an ambivert like most people—and not an introvert—then you already have characteristics that will make marketing easier. You just need to recognize this!
Even if you are an introvert, shifting your attitude from “I hate marketing” to “I can do this” will help—a lot!
Learn More About Ambiverts and Introverts
Read about ambiverts and introverts and take a test to find out what you are.
Succeeding in any business—and freelancers are running businesses—takes work.
Whether you’re an introvert or ambivert (or the rare freelance extrovert), having a growth mindset will help you succeed.
Hard Work Leads to Success
Freelancers with a growth mindset believe that working hard to develop their talent and abilities will lead to success. They believe that they can learn new things—including how to get the high-paying clients they deserve and build a stable, successful freelance business. And they put the time and effort into doing this.
Other people believe that talent and ability are fixed. They also believe they shouldn’t have to work hard for success. These people are wrong.
If you have a growth mindset, you’re much more likely to face challenges head-on and overcome them. But if you have a fixed mindset, you’ll think that you can’t learn how to do things like build a stable, successful freelance business. And you’ll be more likely to give up easily.
Learn More About the Growth Mindset and Freelance Success
Navy SEALs and freelancers don’t seem to have much in common. But if setbacks and adversity make you want to hide under your desk instead of motivating you to be more successful, Navy SEALs and other people who thrive under pressure they can teach you a lot about resilience.
Resilience Helps Freelancers Overcome Adversity and Setbacks
Resilience is your ability to bounce back and keep going when you face adversity and setbacks. Navy SEALS are resilient.
You can be resilient too—because people can learn resilience at any age.
Resilient people are rarely born that way. They develop resilience over time. Studies have shown that people can overcome adversity and become better than ever.
You can also become less resilient over time. If you consider adversity a challenge and deal with it, you’ll grow. But if you consider adversity a threat, it may become a problem that never goes away. And you’ll lose resilience.
Four Ingredients of Resilience
In the book Stronger, a stress management expert, an entrepreneur, and a Navy SEAL identify these ingredients of resilience that successful people share:
- Active Optimism
- Decisive Action
- Relentless Tenacity
- Interpersonal Support.
Learn More About Resilience and the Freelance Success Mindset
Find out how to build your resilience through optimism, action, tenacity, and support.
Good luck doesn’t come from finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, or filling your office with horseshoes or four-leaf clovers. And it doesn’t happens by chance.
We all have more control over our own luck than we think we do.
Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, proved this. In a 10-year series of experiments called “Luck School,” he found that lucky people think and act differently than unlucky people.
What Lucky People Do
Wiseman identified four basic principles that lucky people use to “generate their own good fortune”:
- Creating and noticing chance opportunities
- Making lucky decisions by listening to their intuition
- Creating self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations
- Adopting a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
His Luck School taught unlucky people how to act more like lucky people do.
Learn More About Luck and the Freelance Success Mindset
Get 6 tips on increasing your luck, based on Wiseman’s principles.
Does failure mean you’re not smart enough or don’t have what it takes to succeed as a freelancer? That’s what many of us believe. So why do so many famously successful people, including Seth Godin, say that you can’t succeed unless you fail first?
“The person who fails the most will win,” says Godin, an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and speaker. Along with launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, Godin’s written 18 best-selling books, and founded two companies: Squidoo and Yoyodyne (which Yahoo bought).
That’s because “in order to keep failing, you’ve got to be good enough to keep playing,” says Godin, who considers failure a skill. “If you never fail, then you haven’t done anything.”
Successful People Are Often Failures First
Many other famously successful people were failures before they succeeded, including J.K. Rowling.
Like Godin, Rowling believes that failure is a good thing. “Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all,” says Rowling. When she wrote her first Harry Potter book, which 12 publishers rejected, she was divorced, raising her daughter on her own, and unemployed.
Overcoming Freelance Failure
But failure is also part of freelancing—even for me.
While trying to build my successful freelance business, I made a lot of mistakes. And my mistakes were all related to freelance marketing, which is really embarrassing. I’m supposed to be the expert, right? Well, I am now, but I wasn’t then.
Failure is an opportunity to try again.
Learn More About Failure and the Freelance Success Mindset
Read about 6 ways to turn failure into freelance success.
It’s easy to put off or postpone doing things that you know are important to freelance success. And the more you procrastinate, the harder it is to get started.
Marketing is probably one of things you procrastinate about. Many freelancers do this.
The rewards of marketing—new clients, more money, and a stable, successful freelance business—seem so far off. And they are, because it usually takes time to get new clients.
Consistent, Ongoing Marketing Leads to Success
If you’ve got lots of great clients and lots of freelance work from those clients, marketing may not seem important. But clients disappear—sometimes with no warning—and projects end.
Consistent, ongoing marketing is one of the keys to freelance success—because by the time marketing becomes urgent, it’s too late.
Finding Time for Marketing
Most freelancers say that finding time for marketing is a real challenge.
But that’s not the real problem. Freelancers put off marketing for many reasons, including:
- You’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start
- You’re afraid your marketing won’t work—or it will work too well
- You dislike or hate marketing
- It’s not urgent—yet!
You can overcome any or all of these obstacles and start getting the clients you deserve.
Learn More About Procrastination and the Freelance Success Mindset
Once you start developing the freelance success mindset, you need a practical way to build your freelance business and get the clients you deserve.
Here are two free guides to help you do this:
Get the Freelance Success You Deserve
Awesome, high-paying clients who need the help of talented freelancers are out there. This Ultimate Guide to Freelance Success shows you a proven step-by-step process for finding and attracting them.
It’s the freelance marketing process I used myself to become a 6-figure freelancer in 18 months. And hundreds of other freelancers are using this proven process to get the clients they deserve too.
You will have to work hard. But you won’t waste your time or effort, because my process is based on what works best for freelancers.
Plan the Future You Want
Goals give you a way to combine your mindset with your freelance marketing process and actions. They help you track your progress in building a stable, successful freelance business. Use a SMART goal:
- Time bound.
It’s easier than you think. You’ll break your goal down into:
- Small, easily achievable mini-goals for each quarter of the year
- The actions you’ll take to achieve each mini-goal.
Overcome Obstacles to Success
With my proven freelance marketing process and your SMART goal, you’ll be:
- More confidence
- Less overwhelmed
- Less likely to procrastinate
- Able to bounce back from challenges.
You’ll always be able to keep moving forward—because you have a plan for doing this.
Learn More About Creating the Future You Deserve
Learn More About Developing the Freelance Success Mindset
Here’s a complete list of the blog posts and free tools to help you develop the freelance success mindset.
Want to Develop Your Freelance Success Mindset?
Grab your free copy of Promise of Freelance Success. Sign it and post it where you’ll see it every day. I’ll also send you practical advice and tips by email to help you get the clients you deserve.