The Best Freelance Advice You Need But Don’t Want To Hear

The idea of the freelance lifestyle is pretty great. You get complete freedom to work from home on the projects you enjoy, and you get to set your own hours with no boss there to bark over your shoulder. Well, sorry to break it to you, but the reality of freelancing is quite different. For some people, they simply like this idea of freelancing, and that’s ultimately why they end up failing.

I often witness those struggling with their freelancing make excuses like, “If I were freelancing full-time…” or “If only I could find clients.”

Ever find yourself saying the same thing? Making excuses as to why things aren’t going as expected?

The truth to why so many people fail at their attempt to freelance is because of their half-hearted commitment. They only like the idea of freelancing rather than the actual act of doing it.

It’s scary to commit to such a risk. To potentially leave a secure paying job to work for yourself – making your own income. Especially if you have little to no experience in running an actual business.

Validating the idea to freelance

As awesome as it’d be to share an exact path to become a successful freelancer, that’s just not how it works. You want a secret formula to succeed, but it doesn’t exist. The truth is you need to put in the hours to figure out the fundamentals, only then can you start to ask for help on how to improve. You must validate the idea of freelancing before you dive into it headfirst. This is when most people discover they don’t like to work with clients or the hard work that comes with developing your own products.

Everybody wants the success of the person they aspire from, but they don’t want to put in the 100+ hours a week to get there.

As harsh as this will sound, how can you expect to make a living freelancing if you’re not fully committed to it?

Putting in the time to commit

The people that show up every day do it because it’s what they love to do. They aren’t interested in making a quick dollar – that’s just impossible with this type of career path.

Making the commitment to freelance is tough, but there are things you can do to make that process less scary:

  • Overlap your freelance efforts with a secure job that will cover your living expenses until things start to take off.
  • Make yourself accountable to a partner, the public, and/or a mastermind group.
  • Work your freelance tasks into your daily schedule.

With time your commitment will grow, which in turn will grow your freelance business to a sustainable career.

The best advice you don’t want to hear

A brilliant, golden piece of advice I picked up from Sean McCabe, a hand lettering expert that runs a podcast for creatives, is the idea of…

Showing up every day for two years.

  • It will make you money.
  • It will build an audience.
  • It will solve most of your problems.
  • It will develop the tenacity needed to survive in this world.
  • It will teach you that those who are successful aren’t successful because of some condensed version of their story, but because they made a commitment to show up every single day when it was hard, sucked, and it looked like nothing would ever come of it.

But no one will hear this advice because “Show up every day for two years” isn’t microwaveable. (source)

This is the type of message and advice I want to help share with anyone looking to make a living from their passion.

Freelancing is scary, risky, and most importantly, it’s hard work. But if you can make the commitment, put in the time and effort, then there’s no reason why you can’t succeed at it and make a happy living for yourself and your family.

If you’re committed to your passion, then you’re not alone. Myself and many others reading this post are right there with you. If you want to declare your commitment to freelance and/or if you have any questions about making the jump, then leave a comment below and let’s succeed together!

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  • Aaron

    Hey Brent,

    Show up everyday is absolutely the right way to accomplish something. If you put in 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week; over the course of a year you will have invested 130 hours into that thing. You can get pretty good at something with 130 hours of dedicated practice.

    You also have to fight the urge to compare yourself to the experts. You have to walk along the same learning path that they did. There aren’t any shortcuts.

    Great post man! Looking forward to reading more.

  • Never loose your hope! There are too many young and new freelancers who get discouraged too quickly. Focus on your goals and don’t get too stressed if you don’t get the job you wanted on the first try. Freelancing is a skill too and it’s something that you get more and more improved and developed in time.

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  • Vari @ Buttercup Ink

    Great post. Totally agree. It’s something that grows organically over time. Especially when it comes to figuring out they kind of work you want to do and the type of clients you want to work with.

    Vari x

  • Michael S.

    Just found your two blogs today, and will need to devour all the articles.

    I am currently working as an art and marketing director for a year and a half after having made my living as an in-house graphic designer for about 15 years. I used to do some freelance work on the side but gave it up when I accepted my current position.

    I’ve come to dread going in to work every day now. I won’t go in to it, suffice to say I’ve tried to make it work, but I have discovered in the last year that my heart and soul aren’t in it. I don’t get to be creative anymore, and I can’t go back to my old position.

    I have spent the last month preparing myself to switch back to freelance, and to make the jump to full time. I am so excited at the adventure before me creating my own company, and getting back to the creativity and positivity I crave.

    Thanks for your blog!

    • Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to share your story! I hope your transition back into freelancing goes well. Stick with it and show up every day. If you can do that, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make it work. If you run into any struggles, feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to help as best as I can.

  • Charles

    When I read the beginning of the article, I thought about Sean McCabe, so I was glad so see him quoted, I’m a big fan of him :) He says exactly the same thing about finding your passion. We may like or not the idea of doing something. But to know if something is our passion, we need to DO it to see if we like the ACT of doing it, instead of the idea only.

  • Maria

    I am currently trying to build my business while studying abroad and let me tell you, most days it sucks. The wifi situation is beyond unbearable, and most days are filled with rejection and frustration. But that’s okay. I am a newbie and I am learning. I am proud to say that not one day has gone by without me doing something to further my career. I like what Aaron said about not comparing yourself to experts; that can be really hard not to do. Thanks for a great post!


  • Brent Chaney

    Great advice here! I totally agree with you on showing up everyday.

    Setting some small daily/weekly goals really help me to show up every day. Ive recently started my graphic design business while working another full time job. I set myself a small list of daily and weekly goals, even if I don’t have a client. This helps me with time management and having something to work towards each week. If I notice I can easily meet the goals each week, I can add to what I’m already doing.

    Thanks for this great post, Brent!

    • This is a really great tip, especially for those looking to get started with freelancing while working another full-time job.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share, Brent! :)

  • I would love to say thank you for your blog posts, I’m currently at the end of my first year as a freelancer and its up and down all the time, but i am learning so much.
    There are days where i wake up, feeling a lack of motivation, so i read a blog post…..honesty helps me get my mind back in the game! Keep them coming Brent!

  • You are so blunt Brent! … but rightly so. When I started my freelancing career, I got lots of pressure from loved ones to ‘get a real job’ Thank God I persevered! I was tempted many times to quit but really as you say, there’s no quick buck when it comes to freelancing. You’ve got to put in the hours.

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