Boss Responses

#44: Should I Quit Freelancing? The Importance of Mindset with Liz Heflin

June 27, 2024 Treasa Edmond
#44: Should I Quit Freelancing? The Importance of Mindset with Liz Heflin
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Boss Responses
#44: Should I Quit Freelancing? The Importance of Mindset with Liz Heflin
Jun 27, 2024
Treasa Edmond

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In this episode of the Boss Responses podcast, host Treasa Edmond and guest  Liz Heflin address the doubts and challenges faced by freelancers, especially when dealing with imposter syndrome and low-paying clients. They respond to a question from Paul, a 10-year freelance veteran struggling to make ends meet and doubting his abilities. Treasa and Liz provide practical advice on paying attention to your mental health, raising rates, and finding better clients. The episode emphasizes the importance of a positive mindset, proactively seeking quality clients, and effectively managing client relationships to overcome self-doubt and grow a successful business.

About Our Guest
Liz Heflin has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She’s also the founder of MACE Writing, her content marketing consultancy. After fifteen years of seeing firsthand the benefits of freelance, she launched a second arm of her business. Designed to help her fellow freelance writers have more success, these services include group and private coaching, resource creation, and the Inkwell community. Liz is excited every day to do her job, and her mission is helping other freelancers capture that in their lives!

Links You Might Want
Check out Liz's Inkwell community 

Connect with Liz on LinkedIn 

Interested in Liz's "Find Your Floor" course? Learn more about it.  

Support the Show.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to Boss Responses. Have a question you'd like answered? Send it to info@bossresponses.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode of the Boss Responses podcast, host Treasa Edmond and guest  Liz Heflin address the doubts and challenges faced by freelancers, especially when dealing with imposter syndrome and low-paying clients. They respond to a question from Paul, a 10-year freelance veteran struggling to make ends meet and doubting his abilities. Treasa and Liz provide practical advice on paying attention to your mental health, raising rates, and finding better clients. The episode emphasizes the importance of a positive mindset, proactively seeking quality clients, and effectively managing client relationships to overcome self-doubt and grow a successful business.

About Our Guest
Liz Heflin has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She’s also the founder of MACE Writing, her content marketing consultancy. After fifteen years of seeing firsthand the benefits of freelance, she launched a second arm of her business. Designed to help her fellow freelance writers have more success, these services include group and private coaching, resource creation, and the Inkwell community. Liz is excited every day to do her job, and her mission is helping other freelancers capture that in their lives!

Links You Might Want
Check out Liz's Inkwell community 

Connect with Liz on LinkedIn 

Interested in Liz's "Find Your Floor" course? Learn more about it.  

Support the Show.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to Boss Responses. Have a question you'd like answered? Send it to info@bossresponses.com

Treasa Edmond:

Welcome back to the Boss Responses podcast. Have you ever considered quitting freelancing? We all go through tough times. They might be caused by personal life issues, a difficult client or being in the wrong mindset. Today, liz and I answer a question about making changes to protect your mental health and your business. If you're a freelancer, business owner or anyone who deals with clients, you're in the right place. I'm your host, teresa Edmond. I've been dealing with clients and running my business for nearly two decades and in that time, I've dealt with my share of doubt, imposter syndrome and not knowing what to say when a client asked a question I wasn't ready for. I created this podcast to empower you with the boss responses you need to grow your business. Each week, my guest co-host and I will bring you five episodes packed with practical insights. Monday through Thursday, we answer your questions, and Fridays, we dive deep to explore how our co-hosts embrace their role as the boss of their business. Welcome to Boss Responses. We are back for day four with Liz. Liz, what's the question?

Liz Heflin:

for today. Today's question is from Paul in Michigan. He says I'm struggling. I've been freelancing for about 10 years and the shifts in the market have hit me hard. I started taking on some lower paying clients to make ends meet, but to be honest, I think my rates were pretty low anyway. There were always enough to make ends meet as long as I had enough client work coming in. Now I'm doubting everything. Should I quit freelancing? Am I really any good at what I'm doing? Why do I have so much trouble finding clients when other people are making over $10,000 a month doing what I'm doing? What am I doing wrong? I've always been someone with imposter syndrome, but I feel like if I don't make a change soon, this is going to have a major impact on my mental health as well as my business. Do you have any advice?

Treasa Edmond:

You know what, paul, I'm really sorry that you're struggling. That is a hard situation to be in and I think all of us have been there to some extent at some point. Imposter syndrome is evil and insidious and it works its way in, and I have found the best way I can deal with it is positivity, and I know that sounds like a trite answer. I am not a toxic positivity person I'm not, but I really believe that when you are intentionally positive and you intentionally look for the good things, you start finding them. So let's look at some of the elements of your questions.

Treasa Edmond:

Should you quit freelancing? That is a decision that only you can make, and I hope you don't. I think it's a wonderful way to make a living, but if you are more comfortable with a nine to five job, then there is no guilt none at all in doing that. Absolutely, look at it, but it's up to you. It's what works best for you. Are you any good at what you're doing? I can't tell you that without looking at your work, but I would bet that you are pretty good at it. I would also be willing to hazard a guess that if you think your rates were low, they were and you cannot feel successful at doing something if you're not charging what you're worth. And sometimes one of the best things that we can do for ourselves and our business is to realize that we're not doing what it takes to make our business successful. So, paul, it's not about I'm really only worth a hundred dollars an hour. It's what does my business deserve. And I think if you can remove yourself from the situation in those cases, especially when you're feeling imposter syndrome, my client's going to think I can't do this, I'm not worth a hundred dollars an hour, I'm going to charge 50. I'm just that's where I'm going. Or I know there are people who charge a thousand dollars for a thousand word blog post, but I'm really happy with $250 a blog post. That's fine If you really are.

Treasa Edmond:

If it's chipping away at who you think you are, then you need to do some serious self-reflection and figure out why you have such a hard time charging a thousand dollars for that. A lot of it's not about me anymore. It's about my business. These are the rates for my business. It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with the value of the rates to the client. And then you just move on with that and then you're just the spokesperson, right? It's like selling shoes. You go into a store and you are a shoe salesman and you have your $5 slip-on tennis shoes and you have your $50 leather pumps. It's no skin off of your nose which ones the clients choose, but you're going to push those pumps. It's the same thing with your rates. If your business sets the rates and then you are the salesperson for selling those rates, it makes it so much easier.

Treasa Edmond:

As for the major impact on your mental health, I highly encourage you to talk to someone about this. Do not wait until it has a detrimental effect. There is no shame in asking for help, and talking to a good counselor will help you work through things in ways you've never thought. If it's just a business issue, find a business coach and say I have no perspective here. I'm too deep into this. I'm doubting everything I do. I just need someone to give me some feedback on this.

Treasa Edmond:

Do those things? Take proactive steps. You're always going to hear me say this Be proactive. Don't wait until it becomes a problem. Just be proactive and definitely look at leveling up your clients. Paul, if you feel like you're stuck with low-paying clients who are barely making the ends meet. You don't have to stay stuck. That's a you decision. Find the better clients, and sometimes that's as simple as reaching out to your network and saying hey, I'm looking for better clients. Anyone have any referrals and if you don't have a network, get one Dial into the freelance community. Your business will change if you do. What do you think about this one, liz? I know this is a difficult topic.

Liz Heflin:

Yeah, no, there's a lot to unpack there and I agree with so much of what you said. I had bullet pointed out some thoughts and you went ticking down the list. You really did, I would say, from a practical perspective, if you're really looking to line up work quickly, really focusing your client acquisition on those shorter term wins, those quicker wins, because some tactics are long games. Building a personal brand on social media is a long game. It can have huge payoffs, but it just doesn't mean clients are going to be lining up at your door right now when you need the money now. So I would do things like you've been in the game for 10 years. You probably have a nice quiver of former clients. If you will, I would just reach out to those former clients.

Liz Heflin:

Sometimes just a reintroduction email is enough to go oh, you know what? We have this project that needs to get done and sometimes work can get rustled up that way. If you have existing clients and there's a natural upsell there. They're at four blocks, maybe they want to go to eight. They have a newsletter? Hey, maybe you want to start posting on social media. Whatever the case may be for that particular client, but upselling the people who already know and trust you can be a way to instantly up the revenue, one thing that some people don't always think to do. You can apply to in-house positions, but not for the position, but by offering your interim services while they are looking for that permanent in-house position, because it takes a couple of months to fill those roles.

Treasa Edmond:

That's sneaky brilliant.

Liz Heflin:

That's sneaky brilliant.

Liz Heflin:

Yeah and yeah, they're desperate to get the work off their plate. It's an easy yes, they're inclined to get you up and running fast and it's not a long-term solution. It's usually one month of work, two months of work, but it can tide you over and you know that they're looking and you know that they're in many cases desperate to get that work off their plate. That's an option. And then, if it makes sense in your business, raising your rates on your existing clients which I think we're probably going to be talking about this on day five, but that can be a way Again, with people you already like, know and trust, if you've proven that the ROI is there, then that can be a way to instantly again boost those revenue numbers without taking anything extra onto your plate or searching too hard and then not being shy about hey, here's who I am, here's what I offer. I'm looking for work, just being comfortable saying that, putting yourself out there and hitting that network, your personal network, your professional network. And, as we said, if you don't really have an existing network, it's a good time to start one. Because I have, it's probably been.

Liz Heflin:

I will say it has probably been the single biggest a positive change in my business was when I started, when I really jumped into the freelancing community and network. It just changed and revolutionized a lot of things about my business for the better. So I can't recommend that enough. But yeah, all of those things. It can feel like a lot doing all of those client acquisition tactics at once, but if you really diversify how you're going after clients, it's in the same way that you don't want one client making up too much of your income. You want to spread out your eggs over a lot of different baskets and if that channel's running dry then hey, maybe this one will pop, and if that one's not working, then maybe something will come of this tactic.

Treasa Edmond:

Yeah, hitting those sort of quicker ways to land clients can be a way to tide you over till some of the longer term gains can play in as well, yeah, and even, paul, even if you reach out to everyone and all of a sudden you're having a banner month, don't overlook the need to work on the mindset. Yeah, you can put it off, you can put it off and focus on the client work, but you really do need to focus on that, because all of us suffer imposter syndrome. I still have it, especially on big projects, but it shouldn't feel like it's running your life, doubting whether or not you're enjoying what you're doing. Then have that conversation with yourself or, even better, have it with someone else, because if it's a trusted person, they will help you bring clarity that you're not going to get any other way. And my biggest thing is if you go into those conversations, go into them open-minded.

Treasa Edmond:

A business coach, a counselor, a trusted colleague, whatever it is go into those conversations open-minded. And when they tell them, listen, paul, you really have to step up in this area or you really need to let this go, then seriously consider it. Don't just discount it, because that's your knee-jerk reaction. I think our mindset is the most important part of running a business and I will shout that until the end of time. It's so important and we ignore it until it becomes a crisis, and that's not good. So let's not, and let's encourage each other to not.

Liz Heflin:

Yeah, listening to those mental and physical cues that's your body, that's your mind telling you something. Cues that's your body, that's your mind telling you something. If you're getting those red flags from your body, from your mind, that is something worth listening to, because if you ignore it, if you push it down and just keep powering through, that is just something that's going to compound and become a bigger problem. It is worth listening to your own self and taking cues and making changes early on. It's always going to be easier to right the ship if you deal with it sooner rather than later.

Treasa Edmond:

Yeah, and there's one kind of peripheral issue here that I would like to address really quickly and I would like Liz's feedback on this as well. So it's a bonus question. Paul says that he was working with rates that were pretty low anyway, but he was okay with it because they were meeting the status quo. They were doing the thing. I have talked to several freelancers in the last month who are charging lower to midland rates. They're just in there and they're like I've been charging this for 10 years. It works for me. My clients aren't complaining. I've had the same clients all this time.

Treasa Edmond:

I have issues with that thought process because that is not a sustainable business. That is a business where you are actually losing more money every single year and even if it works for you, even if maybe you're part of a two income family and you're not the breadwinner and you're just bringing in fun money, your business is still a business. You still need to take it seriously and you still need to have a cashflow plan that includes increases every year, because cost of living increases every year and like cost of living in the last two years has increased almost what? 25%. It's stupid, stupid, ridiculous. Your business needs to reflect that, and it can be uncomfortable. It's definitely uncomfortable to get out of the status quo, but in my opinion, if your rates aren't raising on a regular basis, you're doing yourself and your business a disservice, because your value is increasing every year, because you're getting better at what you do every year. But what do you think about that, liz?

Liz Heflin:

No, I absolutely agree, and it's so funny. When I started my business, my dad gave me a piece of advice and, in typical daughter fashion, yeah, whatever, dad and I rolled my eyes. And now, looking back on it, I go, oh my gosh, that was a really smart thing that he told me, and I was. I'd been doing my business for a couple of years and it was getting to the point where I figured out how to pitch to clients and I figured out what they wanted and I was getting more yeses than I was getting no's and I thought that was amazing. I thought this is great. And my dad told me like it might be worth upping your rate until you get some nose, find some ceilings. And I thought I don't know, I'm getting the clients, the money's coming in. Why would I rock the boat, the thing? And looking back, what a smart thing. I should have listened to dad.

Liz Heflin:

Dad, if you're listening, your feelings about income and your feelings about ceilings, about what people will pay, are often very different than what a company who has a budget earmarked for this. If you're working with companies, it's not like you're pulling out of somebody's personal checking account. So finding a company's ceiling is account. So finding a company's ceiling, you're usually pretty surprised by what that actual number is. So it's worth stepping up until you get some pushback because one client pushing back, even if you lose that deal because of it now going into subsequent negotiations and rate setting. You have some more context and some more information and you could very well potentially make up that lost income very quickly with a couple of yeses down the line. That would be my two cents on that.

Treasa Edmond:

And when you think about leaving money on the table, a lot of people are like it's not really worth hassle of a couple hundred dollars. It's very seldom a couple hundred dollars. If you're charging $250 for a blog post that other writers in your field are charging a thousand dollars for one, your clients are never going to think your work is as good as that thousand dollar blog post. They're just not. It's a perception issue. It may be entirely wrong, but that's what they're going to do. But you're leaving $750 on the table. That's huge. Think about that. That's not just one project. If you do 10 projects a month, that's $7,500. Start thinking about how all of this adds together, because it's important, and I've worked with people who are like I'm just going to give them a rate and I'm like no, no, you ask the client what their budget is. Always find out what their budget is, because sometimes it's like $3,000 more than you thought you should ask, and that's big.

Treasa Edmond:

And the more professional you are about that, the more proactive you are about it and the more you lead those client relationships, the more money you're going to make and the more, the more respectful your clients are going to be and I don't mean that in a negative way, because it's definitely a partnership the more respectful they're going to be and you're going to respect them because they're following your leadership. That's huge. That also, by the way, helps with that imposter syndrome. Client management and really effectively managing that can really negate imposter syndrome, because you go into it feeling like an expert and there's no room for it. It just doesn't exist. So, yeah, all right. So that was Paul's question and a little bit of a bonus there at the end. But I think those tie together and I don't think that we can really look at one clearly without the other. Come back tomorrow, because it's going to be an on-fire conversation with Liz. We're talking all about money, which is one of the most important topics you will ever talk about when it comes to your business. See you tomorrow.

Overcoming Freelancing Doubts and Challenges
Improving Freelancer Mindset and Rates
Maximizing Client Relationships for Profit

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