Allow me to share the secret formula that has produced thousands of freelancing blogs over the past few years:
- Step 1: Get interested in freelancing
- Step 2: Skip the actual work of becoming a successful freelancer
- Step 3: Regurgitate tired old advice (that didn’t make sense when it was written — and makes even less sense in today’s online freelancing landscape)
- Step 4: Publish it all on a blog while conveniently leaving out the fact that it hasn’t produced meaningful results for anyone
If you don’t believe me, just google “how to make money freelancing.”
Look at any of the 532,000 results — practically all of them are filled with cotton candy, airy fairy tips, like “manage your time.” SERIOUSLY?
(By contrast, my team and I have spent months working behind the scenes to expand and improve our Secrets Of A Six-figure Upworker course.)
Pointing this out doesn’t make me very popular with certain freelancing “gurus.” Fortunately, my goal isn’t to rub shoulders with them — it’s to help YOU be successful.
To that end, I’m about to tear apart 3 widely parroted myths that can ruin your business.
1. “Doing work that fulfills you creatively is more important than how much you earn.”
Defenders of this position point to Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs:
Everything you need to be happy in life — in one triangle
They’ll point out that creativity is WAY up at the top…
There it is!
To them, this means creativity holds much more value than some meaningless pile of cash. We’ve all heard their mantra, “Money can’t buy happiness!”
But what the “creativity first” people don’t tell you is: You can’t achieve the higher levels until you fulfill the lower ones.
Think about it: How can you be present enough to build meaningful relationships if you’re starving? You need to get a damn sandwich in you first.
Similarly, you can’t be creatively fulfilled until you feel financially secure. Trying to do it the other way around is putting the cart before the horse.
If you’re already making all the money you need from freelancing (including being able to save, take time off, and buy health insurance), then you can focus on pure creative bliss.
Otherwise, the best way to start working your way toward creative fulfillment right now is to find as much work as possible that gets you paid — TODAY.
Btw, if you go on Upwork and check out all the cool freelancing jobs they have posted, you might be surprised at how much creative fulfillment you can achieve while you work your way up the ladder.
2. “Focus on being different, not better.”
Like all great lies, this one starts with a grain of truth: If you look and sound just like all of your competitors, clients won’t pay attention to you.
BUT… How many times have you heard someone bragging that they have the “most different” hair stylist, accountant, or doctor? No one ever says that.
They always say “My guy is awesome!” or “You should try her out, she’s the best!”
Have you ever noticed that everyone always seems to think their doctor, lawyer, copywriter or whatever is “the best”?
The brutal truth is that most people in ANY profession aren’t all that good (yes, any profession — even great doctors are hard to come by). If you focus on doing excellent work, clients will love you and tell everyone you’re “the best.”
The upshot of all this is that if you strive to be better, you’ll end up being better AND different. (Btw, being better than your competitors isn’t nearly as hard as most people think. For the most part, all it takes is reading about your industry every day.)
3. “Don’t charge by the hour.”
A friend once came to me with this dilemma: A client wanted to hire him for marketing consulting, but he wasn’t sure how much to charge for the project because there was no way of knowing how much work would be involved, or what kind of results he could get for the client.
I said, “Pick an hourly rate you’re happy with and just charge him by the hour. That way everyone gets a fair deal no matter what happens.”
His response: “I don’t want to get paid for my time — I want to get paid for the value I’m producing!”
SQUARE PEG, MEET ROUND HOLE.
Yes, there are times when charging “value based” fees can make sense. If you know you’re going to help a client make an extra $250,000 in profits this year, by all means charge accordingly.
But, like my friend discovered the hard way, there are plenty of situations where you’ll have no idea what the real value of your work will be to the client — or even how much work will be involved.
In those cases, you can take a wild guess as to how much to charge (do I really need to explain why this is a bad way to run your freelancing business?), turn down the job, or … pick a nice hourly rate you’re happy with, and start making money.
Case in point: One of my students, Daniel, is doing hourly work for a client right now at $200/hr (see for yourself).
But while Daniel is laughing his way to the bank, there are plenty of freelancers stubbornly refusing to charge hourly fees because someone told them they should always “charge for value” instead — as if there’s no value in getting paid 200 bucks an hour!
Over to you…
When would you have been better off NOT listening to someone’s advice? Please post about it in the comments.
For example, when I first started freelancing a lot of “experts” said “Don’t use Upwork.” I ignored them…and earned six-figures in 12 months.
It can be about freelancing, or something specific to your field, job, or even life in general. This is your chance to expose it to tens of thousands of others and help each other out.
Go for it — I love hearing your thoughts on this stuff.