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Freelancing and consulting: Three delusions

Much of what I’m reading about how to succeed as a freelancer or consultant is total B.S., at least in my experience.


Granted, there are millions of freelancers and consultants in the world, each with a personal take on how to run their practices and how to structure their lives. There are as many approaches to the solopro life as there are stars in the heavens or grains of sand on the beach.


The delusions I have listed in this article may not be delusions for you; you may be joyously living out all three claims that I call delusions. If so, my hat is off to you and I am in awe of your accomplishment.


Now here are the three delusions:

  1. Success starts at six figures per year.

Anything less is the result of a faulty mindset. You don’t make $100,000 a year because you don’t want to make $100,000 a year. Shame on you.


It’s a matter of self-esteem, goes the story. Doesn’t matter how little experience you have or how unsuccessful your past work has been or the flimsiness of your portfolio, resume or other proof.


Raise your rates high enough because you deserve it. Then say the right affirmations and you’ll be deluged in work.


Reality check


$100K is a lot of money to earn through your own work.


First you have to do marketing, which in itself is unpaid time. If you are fairly new to self-employment, you are light on past customers. This means most of your clients must be first timers rather than repeat clients. This translates into a lot of marketing.


Then you have to put tush in chair and carry out all the work you have committed to. In many fields, making that much money takes an incredible amount of time at work, even if you charge a high rate.


It is not impossible to earn north of $100K, but there are many other significant achievements on the way to this number, starting with your first paying client. Other milestones (among zillions of choices that may better capture your imagination) are breaking four figures ($1,000), matching your annual salary from your last regular job, and matching your past salary plus benefits (multiply annual salary by 1.34 to account for benefits equaling about one-third of salary).


Six figures is possible, but believe it or not, some people don’t aspire to earn that much, mainly because it can be exhausting.

  1. Freelancing and consulting are lifestyles, and a lifestyle is way better than a job.

Everywhere I look I’m seeing the word “lifestyle.” Apparently a lifestyle is like a job except that you can do whatever you want whenever you want.


Want to bike through the forest preserve at 2 pm on Tuesday? Take off from work on Mondays and Fridays? Sleep in? Take an afternoon nap? Sip coffee at Starbuck’s?


It’s all up to you.


Reality check


Yes, you set your own schedule. However, if you take on work, you are obligated to meet professional standards and deadlines. If you have set high income goals for yourself, that means more time devoted to marketing and to completing the work you have promised.


You’ll have to work sometime, though you may choose pre-dawn, evening, late night, or weekends.


To make money, you need dedicated time to produce (or ways to farm out as many tasks as possible—and pay these “farmers”).

  1. Passive income is the easy way to supplement freelance and consulting income.

Create your info product once and make money from it forever. Make money while you sleep!


Reality check


Sorry, but the secret to making money while you sleep is to work you butt off while you are awake.


While the product is created once, it doesn’t sell repeatedly without ongoing work. Info producers go on to promote their product with list building, publicity, marketing, tribe development, and more.


Some people don’t need to promote their product for it to continue to sell. However, that’s because their other products and services do double duty and promote the product under discussion as an added benefit.


They speak to large groups . . . and sell their product at the back of the room. They go to conferences and participate in online and phone conversations to build affiliate relationships . . . and these relationships result in product sales. They sell coaching programs and lead mastermind groups . . . and sell product to participants.


I hope you don’t find this depressing or discouraging because it is not meant to be either. Freelancing and consulting can be lucrative. They offer flexibility in shaping your work hours and other aspects of how you work. Info products can augment income from the services you provide. All of this is possible . . . but if you expect easy sailing all the way, reality may disappoint you.


Originally posted 9-8-14

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