5 Unhelpful Pieces Of Advice That Are Holding Your Freelance Career Back

Photo Credit: Frame Harirak

Like all other areas of business, it seems that the world of freelancing is saturated with individuals eager to circulate professional advice and lofty opinions. The problem, however, is that all too often this guidance leaves creatives feeling unmotivated, uninformed and utterly lost. As a result, we hold ourselves back from opportunities to succeed.

While many of our advisers may be well-intentioned, the vicious cycle of self doubt and discouragement they can perpetuate must end here. So, in the spirit of growth below are five common examples of unhelpful advice, as well as a little pep-talk to get you through it.

“You need to pick between a 9-5 and a freelancing career.”

Nope, you don’t. The beauty of having your own freelance business means that you decide when and how often you want to work. So whether you choose to pick up jobs on a project by project basis or make freelancing your full-time career is entirely up to you. 

“If a project is going to bring in money, you have to take it.”

As a freelancer you won’t always be tasked with projects you’re overwhelmingly passionate about. However, despite what others may think, you don’t need to take on every opportunity simply because it presented itself. Sure, additional income is great and swallowing your pride to stay afloat may happen from time to time. But as you know, completing projects solely for financial gain is an empty pursuit. So stop listening to those who think that regardless of what is on your plate you have to take on more. Listen to your gut and do what is best for you on both a personal and professional level.

“Know your worth and accept nothing less.”

Sure, we would all like to believe that our time and effort is worth a lot of money. And one day, it may just be. However, we all have to start somewhere- regardless of how talented or skilled we think we are. Now this isn’t to say you should work for whatever price someone else is willing to set. It is simply a reminder that to build a business, you have to understand the value of competitive pricing. If your rates are astronomical, you may miss out on opportunities, especially if you’re new to freelancing. As you grow, so will your rates. Just be mindful to maintain balance and perspective, all of the other details are entirely up to you.

“You should never produce something for free.”

Let’s be clear, working for free isn’t ideal, and it certainly isn’t a goal most freelancers have in mind. However, there are other factors beyond money that matter when building a business, especially as a creative. For instance, to earn jobs you need a portfolio. Editors and potential clients will want to see what you can do for them, in addition to what you’ve already done in the past. So if writing a few articles or staging a few photos helps you to build your name and gain visibility in your field, then it may be beneficial to consider (at least while you’re starting out). However, remember that the end game is to leverage that portfolio to monetize your skills. So, give yourself a timeframe within which you are willing to work for free. After that date, start charging for your services.

“You need a business coach or expert to get started.”

Meaningful advice from a seasoned professional is invaluable to our growth as both creatives and human beings. However, there’s a strong difference between receiving guidance from someone you trust and paying another individual to lead your business. There’s no question that in certain circumstances having a coach is helpful. But make no mistake about it, you don’t need to do so in order to succeed. As long as you’re staying true to yourself, working hard, and being a decent human being, chances are you will carve the path needed to thrive.