Many of us have considered going freelance or starting a blog at some stage, but a lack of confidence is a big barrier.
Of course, there are the usual positive affirmations, but sometimes you just need that bit extra to get you through turbulent times.
Therapist Nick Davies shares his wisdom on how freelancers can build their confidence.
‘Bloggers often lack in confidence as they’re often revealing personal parts of themselves to the world, some people have often described the feeling as being naked, with nothing to protect them, so to speak.
‘This is more common in the bloggers and freelancers who are talking about things like personal experiences and fears. They feel they may have exposed a vulnerability which could be exploited by unpleasant people.
‘It comes from our hardwired need to be accepted. Back in the days where we lived in clans and survived off the land, you’d suffer if you were rejected from the group. You’d have a difficult time hunting, gathering, protecting yourself and building shelter. In short, rejection equalled death.’
A spot of reflection brings about clarity when your mind is compromised by low confidence. Here are Nick’s six questions for you to write the answers to for those of you suffering from low confidence:
- Who is your work is helping?
- What is your mission statement?
- What are the positive emotions your work allows you to feel?
- What negative emotions would you feel if you didn’t do the work?
- How would you feel in five years’ time if you hadn’t done it?
- What three things do you hope to achieve for 2019?
He also suggests starting a gratitude journal for all the big and little things that have made you happy along the way.
Confidence in real life
It helps to see how people have applied confidence tips to their own lives. Here are three entrepreneurs on how they’ve dealt with faltering self-belief.
Holly Pither, founder of PitterPatterPither, had to block out the naysayers who criticised her for starting a maternity blog when she was expecting a child.
I started my blog as a bit of fun back when I first went off on maternity leave. In many ways it was a little like a diary, where I just expressed all my emotions and used the long-form content as a means of therapy (without paying hundreds of pounds for a therapist).
I had loads of people saying I was ignorant and somewhat ideological for considering starting something like this just as I was about to have a baby, but I just blanked them out and cracked on. I thrive on being busy, so I wasn’t afraid of some hard work or a bit of a challenge. In actual fact, it made my maternity leave better because I was able to focus on something else aside from ‘just being mum’.
It was certainly hard, especially during those long days and sleepless nights. It’s even harder now that I’m back in my day job. However, it doesn’t matter how difficult it might get, for me the benefits well outweigh the negatives.
Drawing on previous experience
Having been in PR for over ten years, I knew how to write and how to create a brand so I felt confident in this, but of course it’s always very different when you have to do it for yourself.
Creating a brand identity for a client, writing copy for them, advising them on their look and feel is all stuff I do in my day job. But when I had to do the same for myself at PitterPatterPither, I often felt the dreaded imposter syndrome setting in. Could I really do this for myself? Could I really create a brand?
I almost treat myself as a client – this means I need to plan my blog content calendar accordingly. I still do to this day and use planning tools as a content planner and online tools to assist with my digital strategy. Knowing I have a plan really helps.
I guess one of the ways I can keep my confidence up is hearing back from people who say I am actually making a difference to them. It’s so lovely to hear that what I write about is resonating with other working parents and that what I say empowers them to make changes, however small. There is no better feeling.
Advice for other freelancers
Take yourself seriously. You can do this and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The blogging community is amazing and you can always turn to other bloggers for advice and guidance.
Since I started, I have been blown away by the amazing sense of camaraderie in the blogging community – you only have to look at Facebook or Instagram to see it.
“Take yourself seriously. You can do this and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise”
If you lack confidence or have one of those ‘What the heck am I doing?’ kind of days, look to these platforms as they will give you the drive to carry on.
Sarah Lloyd, founder of IndigoSoulPR, has moments of low confidence. Here, she talks about how she manages it.
I have definitely struggled with confidence in my day-to-day work and there are still days when I have the odd moment.
I am a great believer though that those things meant for me won’t pass me by and as long as I am doing my best and maintaining my authenticity then I can’t go wrong. When I have had my moments there are a few ways I like to try and bring myself back to the positives.
It helps to remind myself of what I have achieved – I am currently compiling a wrap up report for some of my longer-term clients and that exercise in itself is rewarding because it is very clear where we have had successes.
Stepping away from the laptop is vital. I take myself to the gym or for a walk in the woods – it’s often there that I get inspiration for a new idea for either my clients or my own business.
I regain the sense of achievement by trying to do something that is easy to achieve. That could be updating my website, finishing my Christmas shopping, getting the washing done. Just something that has been ticked off the never-ending list.
Plus, I have a couple of buddies who are in the boat as me who I will ping or arrange to hook up for coffee with – talking it through with like-minded people helps massively and often they can see the wood for the trees when you can’t.
I am also a member of a couple of Facebook groups who are very supportive and there we are encouraged to share our successes and our woes.
A challenging trio
Challenges that I face are three-fold: comparing myself to others, when work appears to dry up and getting among it.
When I see others pushing out fancy new marketing campaigns or creating new courses or offers, it is so easy to start comparing what you are doing to what they’re doing. It’s then I need to have chat with myself.
If what they’re doing works for them then that’s great. I have to remind myself I am not them and I’m not targeting their audience. What I am doing is just fine for me and what I want to achieve.
So yes, have goals and stretch yourself but if you try and roll something out that is essentially someone else’s, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work. The lack of authenticity is picked up and it turns your tribe off.
When the work dries up, there is always a tiny level of panic that sets in. But on reflection, my work actually slowed down at a time I needed it to. My quieter patches definitely coincide with my children’s school holidays. It’s just made me prepare better. I’m also reminded why I went freelance in the first place, to navigate around and be there for my children, which then resets the fear and makes me realise I am doing the best I can.
“The lack of authenticity is picked up and it turns your tribe off”
One of the other challenges that freelancers face is ‘in – syndrome’. We can all too often get too attached to our laptops or our home office. Which then can sometimes fuel insecurities when we do need to leave the house to network and build our businesses.
Get out there (but you don’t have to go to everything)
Don’t feel like you have to go to everything. But the flip side is to get out even if it’s once a week to go to a different location.
With the bigger networking events, make the effort and go to the ones that feel good. If you don’t feel comfortable about the people or the general vibe, don’t put yourself in the position.
Even just getting out the house and meeting with other business owners in a local coffee shop works – I met with a couple of my friends for coffee one day and went home with a solid lead. You never know who you are going to bump into.
Kate Beavis is an author, blogger and speaker, specialising in vintage fashion and homeware as well as homeware DIY.
I don’t have an issue with confidence day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience it occasionally.
Working for yourself does mean you are often isolated; you don’t have that feeling of being in it together that I experienced when working for a company. There is no one to share the good stuff with, nor is there anyone here if I have a wobble.
The trick is to surround yourself with supportive people in real life, or even virtually – having someone to talk things through with if you are doubting yourself is vital.
Interestingly, I had more confidence when I started out as I had nothing to lose and my determination to be read was high – even if it was just my mum that read what I blogged.
It changes when you start working with brands as they, quite rightly, want to see stats and follower numbers, so the pressure becomes greater. You also can start comparing yourself with others online which can affect your confidence as it is easy to question your worth.
However, I try to stay away from all of that, focusing on my plan and my journey. This has led to greater things such as book deals, speaking gigs and TV work. That said, some presume that this makes you more confident, but it can pile on even more pressure!
As I get older, I have more confidence: I am more comfortable in my own skin and care less about what people think.
I try to not to be on social media too much even though it is vital to what I do. On top of that, I take time for me to unwind and I try to be creative without the pressure of blogging about it, such as visiting exhibitions.
You will never please everyone so don’t try to. Find your niche and own it – some people won’t get it, but it doesn’t matter.
Don’t wait for your blog to be perfect before you launch, just go for it. I meet so many people that are still working on it before going live when they just need to hit that publish button.
Finally, take time to review what you do and celebrate the wins.