How to Become a Pro at Handling Uncertainty In Freelancing

Rachel L. Swarns of The New York Times writes about How Freelancers in the Gig Economy find a mix of freedom and Uncertainty.

She writes a story about Josh Springer — a New York City based freelancer — a member of The Freelance Union, and one of those many freelance workers hoping to find gigs to support their fledgling freelance businesses.

When asked about handling uncertainty, this is what Josh has to say:

“It’s great, it’s scary, it’s worrisome, it’s stressful, it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s every extreme adjective I can think of. You really don’t know what to expect. Every day, you’re hit with something new.”

Freelancers have anything in their lives, except certainty. You have no way to expect anything for sure by the end of the month. You have no recourse. You always walk along dangerous edges. You are perennially at the end of a cliff.

Freelancing isn’t for the faint-hearted. Here’s how handling Uncertainty in freelancing is done:

Accept the fact and embrace uncertainty

It’s irony, but it is what it is.

Every freelancer, small business owner, and even large corporations have to handle uncertainty. Although it might not seem like regular employees and everyone else do not face anything remotely similar to uncertainty, they all do.

Uncertainty is a part of human life. No one knows a thing about the next minute.

Just embrace uncertainty instead of fighting it, getting frustrated, or getting stressed.

Work with the numbers

You could be a writer, designer, illustrator, developer, or whatever else it is that you freelance on.

Your skill isn’t as important as your ability to “market yourself” and get paying clients for the skillset you have to offer.

For that, you’d need to sell, pitch, apply, bid, network, and be on the constant lookout for projects. You’d need to be more of a marketer than what you really are or what you are an expert at.

Assuming an average conversion of about 10% (you’d land one project out of every 10 applications, pitches, queries, or cold emails), you’d need to set time aside everyday to go neck deep into this hustle.

The more you pitch and sell, the more clients you have. The more clients you have, the less you’d have to put up with uncertainty.

Build Alternate Sources of Income

If you are making good money now, find out ways to make that money work for you in the form of regular savings, dividend paying stocks, returns from other investments, real estate, etc.

While doing freelancing, start other businesses on the side and build them to the point that each of those businesses makes you money.

If you are a designer or developer, for instance, build website templates and sell them on online marketplaces like Envato.

If you are a writer, write a book, go the self-publishing route, or create eBooks and reports to sell them using GumRoad, Amazon, or elsewhere.

If you’ve been a service provider, dabble with selling products online.

No matter what your skill set is, you can always build another business (that has nothing to do with your core skills).

Sell on Value. Go on the retainer mode

First, stop charging by the hour and don’t sell on price. Pitch your value instead. Read Breaking the Time Barrier: How to Unlock Your True Earning Potential by Mike McDerment and Donald Cowper of Freshbooks.

While you are out selling, get away from one-time, low-value projects and focus on retainers and long-term contracts. This way, you get paid for a long-time and more consistently.

How do you handle uncertainty? What do you as a freelancer to get away from the worry mode to the productive mode?

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Originally published at peerhustle.com on July 29, 2015.