What are you afraid of?
I’m not talking about spiders, your fear of flying or even that most terrifying of acts, public speaking. I don’t care about those.
What I do care about is the fear that’s holding you back from progressing your freelance career. The one thing you’re so afraid of it’s preventing your breakthrough moment.
You know what? You don’t need to say anything. I know exactly what it is. It’s the same thing that held me back for so long and it’s the same thing that stifles the career of nearly every unsuccessful freelancer I speak to.
It’s the fear of failure.
That fear is natural. And to be honest, it’s quite healthy. If you’re not afraid of failing then I’d argue you’re not invested enough in what you’re doing.
But the fear of failure is not the problem. The problem is the bullshit excuse you tell yourself. The pathetic reasons you create that not only legitimise that fear, but gives it power over you.
Tell me, how many times have you, or someone you know said something along the lines of the below:
- I won’t apply for that job/gig now because I’m not ready
- I don’t think I’d enjoy it if I landed it
- They’re requesting experience, but without landing the work I can’t gain the experience, it’s a catch 22
- I won’t get it so it’s not worth me wasting time writing a pitch letter
Every time you fall back on one of these weak excuses, you’re giving yourself a reason to not act. You’re sabotaging what could be a great thing because you’re too much of a wimp to take a chance.
Take a look again and tell me if any of my responses aren’t true.
I won’t apply for that job/gig now because I’m not ready
When will you be ready? Whenever it is I’d bet my bottom dollar that job has gone to someone more proactive, even if they weren’t ready
I don’t think I’d enjoy it if I landed it
How the fuck do you know? You might love it. Stop being a wimp and take a bloody chance.
They’re requesting experience, but without landing the work I can’t gain the experience, it’s a catch 22
Bullshit, come back with a real reason. There’s plenty of ways for freelancers to get experience. If you wanted to break into that industry you’d help a charity by providing your services for free, create spec pieces to get your name out there, or work at a reduced rate.
I won’t get it so it’s not worth me wasting time writing a pitch letter
It’s a weak excuse by any measure. You should be insulted you’re so easily diverted from your goal.
Look, I know that this is going to sound harsh. But, if you’re still making these excuses, then all the kumbaya, you’re great as you are, all you need to do is believe type articles obviously aren’t working.
So I’m taking a different approach. I’m not here to massage your ego or tickle your bollocks, I’m here to tell you a harsh truth. A truth I hope will reduce the fear you feel and help you take the action you need to grow your business to the next level.
And that truth is…
You Are a Nobody
Yup, that’s right.
And no one is going to remember you.
Why are you so scared of reaching out to your dream? Why are you putting off launching that eBook or setting up your own site?
Because you might fail?
Never starting is 10x worse than trying and failing. And even if you do fail, it’s not the end of the world.
What do you think is going to happen if you fail?
Do you think the next time you go down the pub everyone is going to know and be sniggering at you behind your back? Do you think one bad pitch email is going to burn every single bridge within that industry? Do you think this business is about a single opportunity or you’ve got to nail every gig you go for to not be a failure?
Well, get over yourself.
You know what happens if you fail?
No one knows, no one really even cares.
Even the hiring party who receives your pitch will forget you in a few weeks unless you were hilariously bad or overwhelmingly offensive. And trust me, if you follow the basic rules to effective pitch emails, you won’t be in any of those camps.
Just last week I completely fucked up a pitch email.
Despite personalising the body copy and CTA for that business, I messed up the subject line. I used the wrong name in the email subject line. I emailed one business owner with the name of the partner.
My otherwise personalised pitch was wasted because all she saw was my fuck up. I got a snarky email back which of course made me feel pretty shitty.
So you know what I did?
I deleted it, sent another pitch email to another business, and a contract to another client that’s ready to work together.
And in a few weeks, I’ll email that same lady who offered a snarky response with a proper subject line. By that time, she’ll probably have forgotten it was me who sent the initial email wit the business partner’s name.
You can’t let a little failure stop you from pressing on.
The truth is, right now, your failure will have no impact on anyone apart from yourself and the people you tell. Shit, even the people you tell won’t be as interested in your failure as you think they are.
You have literally nothing to lose. But you have everything to gain.
Cause here’s the thing. If you:
- Embrace the fact that you are, right now, a nobody
- Wear your anonymity like a suit of freelance armour
- Take massive action without worrying about failure
Then one day soon…
You Could Be Someone Who Matters
I could wax lyrical about how famous, successful people have failed more times than they’ve succeeded.
I could list the various Virgin business that have failed, yet point to Richard Branson’s overall success.
I could quote one of Elon Musk’s numerous inspirational one-liners on failure.
I could even point out how failures for guys like these are noticed worldwide. And yet, eve with that publicity they never stop. They’re back on the horse and trying again within a few days.
But really, what the fuck do I know about building businesses that changes the way hundreds of thousands of people live their day to day lives.
Short answer, nothing.
What I do know is that if you wear your anonymity like armour and take massive action then soon you will be someone. Perhaps not the person adorning the cover of Time magazine or the name whispered excitedly by high society at their next party.
You might just become a someone to a single individual.
You might write an article that helps a single person through a tough time or crippling problem.
You could provide such great value that you become an invaluable asset to a new client.
Or you could launch your own business or product, help thousands and earn a very comfortable living.
Making an impact, even if just for a single person is an incredible feeling. It gives you the confidence to go out there and do it again and again, each time more ambitious and impressive than the last.
But for any of these results, there’s one thing you’ve got to do first.
Understand that no one in the world cares if your next email, marketing effort or product launch falls flat. No one gives a flying fuck if you send 100 pitch emails and get zero responses.
And neither should you. The only thing you should care about is why you failed. Hone in on the reason for failure and figure out what you can do to fix it.
Do that, and you’ll have taken your first step toward getting that next big win and mattering to someone.
What to Do Next?
Before you go and fashion your impenetrable armour of anonymity I want you to do one of two things (or even both).
- I want you to leave a comment telling me exactly what it is you’re afraid of or what’s holding you back. Publish your fear for the world to see and you’ll notice that really, it’s nothing to be afraid of.
- If you know someone out there who’s a consistent excuse maker send them here. I want them to realise the fear they’re feeling is ridiculous and they’re making excuses that are holding them back from their true potential.
Do that then go out there to conquer your fear and thrive.
Also published on Medium.