Today, I want to hopefully motivate you, inspire you and encourage you to consider the aspects of your business that need improvement or to make a plan to work on things that you personally struggle with. This episode goes through seven areas that I would love for you to improve upon, if you haven’t already. They are:
1. Embrace a business owner mindset
This idea is what this podcast is based on. Think of yourself as a freelance business owner and all that that entails. Words matter, and the words you tell yourself and others can help to change your mindset.
2. Raise your rates
The pandemic has been a hard year economically too, so raising rates for all clients might not be doable. But there are some clients who fared well, and it may be time to raise your rates. It’s certainly time to raise your rates for potential clients — they don’t know what your past rates were!
Also, if you have a secret hourly rate — which helps you determine project rates and/or is the amount you aim to earn every hour you are working for clients — I encourage you to raise it by at least $25 an hour.
And don’t ask your client about raising your rates. Remember, you are a business owner and costs go up. So, you can send an email and say “I wanted to let you know that my rates are going up as of such and such a date. My new rate will be this.”
3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
It’s important to have anchor clients, but when you commit too much time to an anchor client or become too comfortable with that gig and that income, it can hurt you if you lose that client. Ideally, I would consider not having one client that is more than 35% of your income.
When I talk about don’t put all your eggs in one basket, I also mean your services. This can mean your services and/or your industry. Do you need to expand your niche to have niches that are similar? Can you use your skills to add more services for clients?
4. Don’t compare yourself to others
Sometimes you do this without even thinking about it. You look at others in your field, even friends of yours who are freelancers, and see their amazing careers or their clients or the big achievements they’ve reached. I can fall prey to this just like anyone else.
We have to stop comparing ourselves to others. You are a unique individual, and your business is unique. You have different strengths and weaknesses and values and responsibilities and desires.
First, social media. What social media platforms are you on often and how do they make you feel? Are you happy when you scroll through Instagram and see what people are doing and read motivational quotes? Or does it make you feel lazy or like a failure or that you need to do more? Maybe it is time to get off Instagram! This goes for all social media platforms. Take a critical look at how your viewing and interaction with these platforms make you feel.
Another suggestion: Start a gratitude practice. Perhaps you want to start a gratitude journal to write down one to three simple things that you are thankful for that day. I embrace the word “savor” and try to remember to savor all the little things throughout the day.
Another way to express gratitude in your life is to acknowledge and thank other people. You can still do that as a freelancer. You can let your direct client know if a staff member is really helpful on something. Complimenting and acknowledging people is like volunteering; it makes you feel good to make other people feel good.
One more way to stop comparing yourself to others is to be alert for the word “should.” Anytime you say you “should” be doing something, catch yourself or have your partner or a friend call you out on it.
“Should” often comes with shame and guilt. It makes you feel bad and does little to improve any situation. So stop shoulding yourself.
5. Set boundaries
Boundaries tell you and those around you what is acceptable, appropriate human behavior. They vary from person to person. Knowing what your boundaries are and setting them is critical to building healthy, respectful relationships in your life. So, please check out episode #45 of Deliberate Freelancer for tips on setting boundaries.
6. Get ahold of your finances
For many of us, 2020 blew up our financial goals and plans. Now that the dust has settled a bit, if you haven’t already, I highly encourage you in this first quarter of 2021 to get ahold of your finances. This could be a variety of things — it will be different for everyone,
If you need help with your finances, I highly recommend episode #28 of Deliberate Freelancer, with my guest Pam Capalad. Pam is a certified financial planner and a whiz when it comes to this stuff.
7. Take a vacation or staycation
Plan time off now! Some freelancers tend to be bad in general about taking time off. My argument is always: If I’m going to take only 2-3 weeks of vacation a year or less, when I’m my own boss, than why am I my own boss? I shouldn’t treat myself worse than an employer would. Freelancing means freedom. If you don’t schedule vacations, staycations and days off, they often won’t happen.
Even if you can’t really go anywhere because of the pandemic, you can play a staycation or other days off.
I want all of you to get into a regular habit of planning and taking vacations — and DO NOT check email or do or check in on client work. That’s not a vacation.
It can be done. Remember, you’re your own boss. You tell your clients you’re going to be away. Depending on how regular the work is you may have to work ahead to get stuff done or hire a subcontractor to fill in. Or, take advantage of slow work times.
You can also create working vacations, like I do in Indiana for two weeks most summers. The freedom to work anywhere gives you the flexibility to go places and keep in touch without having to completely log off work.
Biz Bite: After/then habits
The Bookshelf: “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue
Episode #1 of Deliberate Freelancer: Change Your Mindset: You Own a Freelance Business
Episode #39 of Deliberate Freelancer: Raise Your Rates—Without Emotion
Episode #23 of Deliberate Freelancer: Five Questions to Evaluate and Diversify Your Services
Episode #45 of Deliberate Freelancer: You Need to Set Boundaries
Episode #28 of Deliberate Freelancer: Take Charge of Your Finances, with Pamela Capalad