Freelance Foundations: Help for freelancers.
Not good enough: it's a lie we freelancers tell ourselves.
I'm not sure how this post is going to end but I feel as if I need to write this, so I hope by the end of it I've shared something valuable.
Over the past few weeks and months I've had a lot of people tell me that they'll start their freelancer practice "when they're better" at their work. In trying to figure out what that means, what's usually at the bottom of that sentiment is that the person doesn't feel skilled enough to start a practice now.
Oi. That's a lot of weight for someone to carry. I know, because I was there myself when I started my practice. When my web business was failing, I sold it to a group who had more business experience. I looked for a job after that but couldn't find anything locally that paid what I was worth with my experience. I thought of going freelance, but I struggled with the question of whether I was ready or not. Ultimately, it came down to thinking I wasn't good enough for freelance work. I might not be able to succeed as a freelancer. I thought of freelance work as much like just running a new business, and having sold my earlier business because it wasn't working, I worried that I was just going to duplicate that failure.
I spent a lot of time thinking it through though, and I believe that what I discovered is what helped me take that initial leap. There's a core philosophy or approach that applies to all freelance businesses, and if you understand this core philosophy, I think it helps all kinds of practices flourish, regardless of your skill level or the type of work you do.
A Freelancer's Core Philosophy
At the heart of every freelancer's practice is a desire to solve problems. Solving specific problems. Solving those problems faster and better than others who don't get to focus on them the same way you can. A practice devotes itself to a specific set of problems, and then seeks out people who are willing to regularly pay to have those problems solved.
It doesn't matter how little skill you think you have; you will always find problems that fit this description. Most organizations have to hire generalists because the day-to-day operation of these organizations require a broad range of skills. This means as long as you are passionate about what you're doing you already know more than most generalists just because you're interested in your subject.
This means that you can start freelancing in a skill far sooner than might feel comfortable as long as you focus on the problems you can solve with that skill set.
A new woodworker is able to make simple objects with enough skill to be marketable. A new writer is skilled enough to write media releases or social media posts. A new graphic designer is skilled enough to create social media images with an existing style guide. A new coder is skilled enough to fix a simple bug in an application.
As you gain skill, your passion will lead you to solving bigger and more complex problems. But at its heart, your practice continues to revolve around the same principle: Finding problems to solve, and people who will pay to have them solved.
Never let anyone tell you that you need to be better; especially yourself. You have everything you need to get started today. You are good enough right now.
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