When you are beginning as a freelancer, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with hall of the possibilities and options freelancing can offer. It is too easy to lose confidence in yourself, in your abilities when you don’t know where to start, how to offer a good job in time and whether you will have any job lined up once you finish a project.
A lot of new freelancers feel lost at the beginning because the work environment for freelancers is very different than a work setting in which your direct boss is giving specific directions on what has to be done every day. This article will offer you a new approach how you can manage your time, stays focused on your work and enjoy the rewards of your freelancing career to build and maintain your confidence as a freelancer. Please enjoy these 15 exercises every independent contractor can use to build their confidence.
1. Choose Work That Is Enjoyable
When looking for potential projects to work on, eventually you will find one that you will really connect with. By choosing to work on the projects that capture your interest, you will end up spending your work time in a pleasant way. Numerous studies also show that the best work is created by people who are passionate about the subject or theme of their work. Keep this is in mind when you are looking through all the different job offers. Collecting your payment for such type of work will be just a nice bonus since the work itself will be enjoyable. Unhappy workers will not only do their jobs badly, but also might lose confidence and trust in their abilities. Don’t let that happen to you! Make sure that whenever possible you choose the most interesting and fun job and don’t always jump at the first job you find.
2. Find Your Niche
In the web design industry there is supply and demand for a wide spectrum of interests and skill sets. Choosing a niche that you not only enjoy but are also good at will make you stand out from the crowd; it lets you find a job that you like and are good at. There are countless specialties you can choose from but there must be one or two that you have some real expertise and that excite you. It doesn’t matter if you like creating animations or developing WordPress themes, as long as you choose a niche area in which you focus your freelance career. Choosing a specialization or niche will show people that your field of choice is what you like and where you have experience. These two factors are very important when a person is looking for a freelance web designer. Establishing yourself as an expert in a niche will build both your credibility and confidence.
3. Accept Jobs That Are Suited For Your Skills
We all learn while working and eventually create a field of expertise. Once we are confident in our niche we may choose to broaden our horizons and learn new abilities. When looking for a project to work on it is important to remember our actual skills. Sometimes it might be tempting to choose a job in a field you know very little about. It might seem that there are no other options or that it might be a nice challenge, but be very wary when looking at such jobs. Sometimes they might be more time consuming than you can estimate and cause a lot of frustration. By remaining focused on your skills and passions when looking for a project as a freelancer it is much easier to be confident. Some projects naturally can be more complex and difficult than others, but as long as you feel comfortable with your skills consider them a chance to improve yourself. Just don’t crawl out of your skin for projects that don’t match your expertise.
4. Be Direct and Honest with Your Clients
Freelancers work diligently to impress their clients and leave a good impression but it is never a good idea to pretend that you have more skills and experience than you actually do. Be straightforward about things you are comfortable working with and things that might cause delays or other problems. Clients appreciate honesty and maybe sometimes they will let you try doing something you might not be very experienced in. Also, don’t be shy to be upfront about other issues about the project. Sometimes freelancers are hesitant to ask for a proper amount of money for their work and end up working for peanuts. That might significantly lower their confidence and make them feel unhappy. Discuss all of the details of the work with an open mind and open heart before finalizing the terms for a project to avoid unpleasant surprises.
5. Avoid People That Are Hard To Collaborate With
A lots of new freelancers make the mistake of assuming that working on the Internet will reduce their communication with people. Nothing can be more wrong. Most of the time, there won’t be any in-person communication and often you will get the option of communicating over e-mail or some type of similar messaging system where you can think about what you say. However, in your freelance career you will meet a lot of different people. Once in a while you will find some clients that are very hard to collaborate with. They might not always be rude or treat you badly. Sometimes they are just not being direct about the requirements of the work or are they may take too much time discussing details once you have started working on a project. It is up to you to decide what is acceptable for you. As a freelancer you have the flexibility of choosing your clients, so pick them wisely. There are plenty of nice, polite employers that are clear and direct in their business.
6. Make Sure You Have Plenty of Time for All Your Projects
As a freelancer you will experience times when you worry as to whether or not you will find projects in the near future. But there will also be other times when you get far more offer than you can realistically do. Sometimes these are great projects and you would like to do them all. It’s tempting in these situations to rush projects because there are many more that are waiting in line. Eventually you will have to choose which ones you will do and which ones you will have to reject. You can use previous points discussed in this article to make sure you get the best out of your offers. Another way to avoid despair and confusion around project selection is to give preference to clients that you have worked with and found pleasant to co-operate with. It is very likely that working with them again will result in another pleasant experience. Additionally, it may be possible that some of your clients will be flexible in regards to project completion if they are not working with a tight deadline.
7. Create a Monthly Project Plan
Having a clear working plan can be very helpful when you are overwhelmed with all the projects you are working with. You can use a calendar to schedule your time. It can be either a physical calendar or a virtual tool. It doesn’t matter as long as you can organize your time in a manner that is suited for you. Having a calendar will help to organize your mind; you can see the tasks that have to be done in the near future and schedule some days for rest. Another nice benefit of calendar is that you can back track the projects you have done. Seeing all of the work you have done in the past can help create a sense of accomplishment and help to boost your confidence. You can also use these records to remember dates worked for projects in the event that you are creating a portfolio.
8. Create a Daily Work Plan
It is very hard to determine beforehand how much work can you do in one day because of all the unexpected interruptions you may encounter; however, once you have little experience as a freelancer you can more or less estimate. Creating a daily work plan helps. The good side of freelancing is that you can give yourself little breaks whenever you wish – just don’t make your breaks longer than the work! If you have detailed in your mind a plan of your work it can guide you through the day. There is no need to go into either extreme. There is no need to set up unrealistic goals. They will make you unhappy at the end of the day when you are unable to make as much progress as you wished. Creating a realistic plan that requires doing little and ending up doing more than you estimated is a great boost to your confidence; it can give you more spirit to work for the next day.
9. Break Down Massive Projects
There are sometimes in which projects are so large and complicated you might not know where to begin. It is easy to feel discouraged in these moments. Luckily there are some things you can do to make it easier for yourself. Before starting to work create a work plan either in your head, on paper or digitally. Think of the things that have to be done in order to complete a project. A lot of projects start by creating a skeleton or outline of some sort. For a web designer these might be sketches or a general idea of the structure of your work. Once you have these clear, you can add some flesh to your creations and finally add some finishing touches. You can set up specific timelines for each step of your project that will help you organize your time. Once you have everything clear it is much easier to be confident about the project; you won’t find it to be so intimidating once you have broken it down into tangible steps.
10. Set Up Time for Rest
It is easy to overwork if you work as a freelancer, so it is essential to allow some time for rest. It is hard to mimic the traditional 9 to 5 day and working from Monday to Friday, but it is necessary that you find some time for yourself, some time to enjoy life outside of your career. How exactly you schedule your free time is up to you. There are people that like to work for a couple of hours and then they give themselves half an hour of relaxation time for catching up on the news, playing a video game or watching TV. For others, interrupting work might take away from their motivation or break their rhythm so they would rather work for several hours straight and then have few hours free time on the evening. Also, on large scale there are people that like have free weekends and there are people that work for 2 weeks straight and then take a week free. The advantage of being a freelancer is that you can schedule your time according to your wishes and events in your life. Just make sure you have some free time, otherwise you might overwork and find yourself out of energy and sacrificing the quality of your work.
11. Be Open to Constructive Criticism
Sometimes criticism is hard to take because freelancers pride themselves in their work; however, constructive criticism is what makes us grow as artists and professionals. It is always a good idea to keep your client up-to-date in terms of your progress. If there is something they are not satisfied with, it is much easier to correct mistakes or imperfections at earlier stages of a project to save yourself some time and make sure that your client is satisfied. It will be more difficult to have to re-do your work when it is done than accepting objective comments on the quality of your work. Criticism from other people such as fellow web designers is also a good way how to learn and improve your skills. You can be more confident that you won’t make same mistake again once you are aware of it.
12. Create a Network of Professional Relationships
It is very important to socialize while freelancing. The more people you know, the easier you will find new clients or be able to network and get advice. Being a freelancer means that you are often on your own; there are rarely any direct supervisors to help you out when and if you are confused. Having an established network of professionals in your field allows you to get advice and guidance when you need it most. There are a lot of web design communities, online forums, and mailing lists you can join. Another benefit of being social is that your friends will refer to you as a freelance web designer, so networking is another way how to gain credibility.
13. Have Multiple Sources of Income If Possible
If you currently have a full-time or part-time job and are thinking about freelancing, it is the best to keep it for the matter of time. It is hard to earn decent income while you remain new to freelancing. You will need a lot of things to succeed: an online portfolio that contains a big selection of your work samples, some other ways to prove your credibility such as a website and preferably a good base of clients (which will take some time to build). In addition to working on projects you can also work on developing your own products you can sell online such as guides or stock images.
14. Continuously Learn and Develop Your Skills
Even if you have established yourself as an expert in your field, there is always room for improvement. Learning new skills and developing yourself is necessary if you want to stay on top. New programs and other tools are made every day; all professions continually evolve over time. That is why it is so important to constantly work on improving your knowledge and expertise. Of course, you can learn while working on a project. Practice is in fact one of the best ways to learn, but it is always a good idea to read news and books about innovations in web design and practice your skills on your own. Making sure that development as a web designer is your priority will make you feel much more confident when you are assigned a new and exciting project.
15. Have Personal Projects
Personal projects are a great way to gain new skills, enlarge your portfolio and possibly earn some passive income. While you are still building a reputation as a freelancer, personal projects can give you options to work with and develop your skills even while there are not yet active projects in sight. It is great to do what you love. Personal projects give you limitless possibilities, unlike projects for which you are hired where you have strict deadlines, guidelines, a set timeframe and style in which to work. The only limit with personal projects is your imagination. In fact, a big segment of freelancers are constantly creating new projects and are looking for someone to co-operate with. Maybe that could be you.
We hope you enjoyed this article and wish you the best of success in your freelancing career!