• Ash

Freelancing Business Model: It's Broken [ & How to Fix It]

Did you know that the freelancing model -- the way we all do it -- is broken.

In so many ways, and in so many levels, it's just not what you'd think it'd be.

It's your job to fix it (for yourself). As usual, no one is going to do it for you.


If you are like most people, you are not even counting the fact that there's a learning curve to master the art of freelancing, to gain authority (and hence be able to do better with freelancing), and to sustain your freelancing business.


While most freelancers won't even realize this until it's time to quit freelancing itself, here's how the freelancing business model is broken.


The Weak Mindset


Starting off as a freelancer would mean that you'd make yourself available to sell your services. Just like you normally trade your skills and experience for a salary when you do a regular day job.


The problem comes from the entrenched mindset that the "client is always right". "Just do what the client says", or "give clients what they want".


This mindset will kill your freelancing business (sometimes even before it starts).

As a freelancer, you are a "consultant". You know your trade. You have the solutions to the clients' problems (and sometimes most clients don't even know what problems they really have).


How to Fix it:


When you pitch, bid, apply, or try to sell your services, don't just say "I'll do X for Y".


Instead, go out there on a limb and say,


"Do you want [fill in the gap]? I'll do it my way, and I'll do it for XXX".

or


"Here's what I helped Brand X do (or grow, or achieve). I can do that for you"


The words are simple but the mindset shift is huge.


The Not-so-Confident Freelancing Cycle


You need money. So, you pitch for projects. You get projects and then deliver. You get paid.


If you aren't too careful, you'll end up in this forever-running self-perpetuating cycle.


If you are just starting with freelancing, I totally get it. Understandably, most freelancers are just happy if this thing even moves. If the money comes to pay the bills and keep the lights on, most people are happy enough.


But then, you forget to think that this becomes another "Fancy Job" that you created for yourself. Trapped in the cycle of forever and ever.


How to Fix it:


As a freelancing consultant, you only want to do better for yourself. Somewhere, along this path, you'd have to break out of this perpetuity. The way you do that is with "confidence".


Confidence comes with experience, the right mindset, mastery of your craft, and finding a voice to let the world know that you can do it.


Do yourself a favor: Go confident.


The "Freelancer" Treatment


Go checkout some job boards (say Fiverr or even Upwork) and you'll notice a few things:

  • Projects briefs are sometimes in ALL CAPS

  • You are "told" to do certain things (like add a secret word mentioned somewhere in the project brief), or go fill up a form, or...even worse?

  • Deliver a sample task (this is despite you putting in all sorts of links to your actual published work)

  • The client already states what they'll pay for a certain job or project or task

  • ..or even things like "Please don't apply if you are from [x Country], [Y country]...."

Did you ever stop to think that all of this is "condescending" to begin with? You are being "told" , "talked down to..", and even "insulted".

If you had a regular business, you wouldn't ever tolerate this nonsense, would you?


Customer comes walking in. Asks how much that product on the shelf costs. You say $XX -- customer either pays, talks, negotiates, or just walks out. All that is fine.

Customers don't, however, say:

  • Hey there, I'll pay $2 for that nice Ferrari right there. Take it or leave it.

  • Who owns this place? If it's a Mexican, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Turkish, or Armenian, I won't buy.

  • Walks into a store that sells automotive mods and says: "Tell me what you know about Automotive mods" [I do understand that customers need to see some of your work before they buy your services, but there are better ways to ask]

Do you feel the difference? Do you feel insulted already? That's the "freelancer treatment".


How to Fix it?


Walk out. Don't even apply or bid. Don't work with clients who are assholes (sometimes you know this earlier when you look out for red flags. Sometimes you'll know later).


Either way, don't do it.


Do you think the freelance business model is broken? What do you say?




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