I want to tell you something real quick.
Your first freelance profile won’t be right. Your first pitch either. Know what else? Your first website will likely be strange and ineffective and your first client experience will probably be bumpy…and that’s a good thing.
It’s also a fact that’s easy to miss if you’re sitting back and admiring other people’s fully-developed, 5+ year-old internet presences and careers.
I get the feeling that’s where a lot of us get hung up. We say we don’t know where to start, but the fact is, starting is easy. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, after all. What’s hard, is a perfect start. A start that makes money in the first day. A start that’s polished and refined and ready to go from the get-go.
Starting doesn’t have to be hard though. None of this does.
People say entrepreneurship is hard. It’s challenging for sure, but no more than a traditional career path. The only difference is that traditional careers paths are pretty much set up for you…you’re primed and trained and funneled into a job. You see friends applying for jobs and writing resumes and you do the same. Entrepreneurship? Freelancing? Chances are you don’t have all that insight. I really believe that is why so many people think that going out on your own is relatively, difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy, but unlike traditional jobs that (at least in my experience) only seemed to get harder, less fulfilling, and more stressful as I went, entrepreneurship, even being a freelancer, has gotten easier.
That’s partly because of choices I’ve made in my business (mostly to not let it own me), but also because I learned the importance of iteration.
The Beauty of Iteration
You’ll find a lot of takes on iteration, but it’s basically just getting out there, doing something, and getting feedback so you know the next step to take.
This works because as an independent worker who’s shaping your own career path, there are no “right” steps. Let’s stop for a second because that’s important. Say it again…”There are no right steps.”
There are only actions you take and then, what you learn from them…and that’s the most important part.
The longer you put off buying that domain, setting up a profile, or updating your LinkedIn page to advertise the fact that you’re a freelancer, the longer you deprive yourself of the lessons that are necessary for you as you develop your work as a freelancer.
Getting Past Mistakes
A lot of us though, are coming into this game with our egos already bruised by employers, workers, society in general, or even teachers from years back.
You’ve heard that you can’t write, or design, or were simply never treated as if your ideas or work were the kind that could be successful. That’s the stuff that’s the hardest to get past, but it really is possible, especially if you focus on small steps and victories.
It’s not always the best idea to set out to create something big (a focus on goals might not be the best for you right now) or even just sign a client. Decide that you’ll do something small, every day, to nurture your business. Maybe even decide that you’ll stop doing something that’s slowing you down from the career you want to build. Those are victories too and they add up.
Most importantly though, allow yourself to learn.
You don’t hear it mentioned much, but all of us entrepreneur-folk are always learning — learning about our niches, learning to improve our skills, learning what doesn’t work for us and what we don’t want. If you approach your journey as a freelancer as one of learning, then you’ll stop seeing so many mistakes and failures, and see more lessons and useful information that will guide you to where you really want to be as an independent professional.
Just remember that no one, no matter how polished, is perfect. You won’t be either, and that’s always completely ok.