Since I love word definitions, I am going to start this off by looking at what “Freelance” means, according to Dictionary.com:
So, by implication, all online business owners are essentially freelancers.
We write content, probably every day, content that we draft to entice our customers towards a profitable and mutually beneficial relationship.
We also sell our work and services.
Generally speaking, we have no “stable” or regular salary income to rely on, when you consider that a monthly salary is not necessarily promised to us.
How about the definition of an introvert?
Since I am an introvert, I can relate to all the words in that definition.
So, how do the lives of freelancers and introverts mesh together?
As we all know, starting in any profession, whether it be freelancing or any career path, it does require some form of networking.
Likewise, if you are changing your career, you will read all the good advice columns and articles that to grow your business, you need the help and support of others.
I’ve read numerous recommendations that to be successful as a freelancer, attending networking events and joining community groups are the best ways to support your new venture.
As an introvert (and entrepreneur) myself, even now, the words: networking, groups, community groups, sharing, sales — literally send me into a panic. My heart skips a beat, even just reading them.
Freelancers will also naturally be in a position where they need to self-promote themselves and their services.
For an introvert, the idea of self-promotion is likened to having to drink poison, or perhaps rubbing chillies in their eyes!
All of this, however, does not mean that an introvert cannot be a freelancer and ultimately be in control of their own destiny.
But you, if you are an introvert, should probably consider the following few questions before you set off to hand in your notice to your employer and into the wonderful wide world of freedom.
(As an introvert, I use “freedom” often to settle myself and boost my confidence: Come on Robyn, I will whisper to myself, this is all about living your life with freedom and adventure)
We introverts do what we have to do!
Can you manage the unpredictable and also a certain amount of risk?
A corporate environment and your regular day-to-day tasks do present the structure that often introverts need to have around them.
Having a situation where your day is unpredictable and uncertain might cause some discomfort for the introvert.
Granted, many introverts have “risk for breakfast”. They relish in the unpredictability of an unstructured day and love the thought of being their own boss.
However, you should still be aware that forming a structure around your own business of freelancing will settle you into a goal-orientated way of mind. Critical for success as a freelancer, in my opinion.
Likewise, setting off on your own path of freelancing, or entrepreneurship risk is an aspect that you will need to manage daily.
It is risk around your adverts not working, your time being spent on unproductive tasks, your capital being risked with decisions or ideas that don’t bear fruit.
This unpredictability and risk are mitigated when you network with others. Undoubtedly, this has been part and parcel of my success to this point.
Nevertheless, I have had to accept unpredictability, risk and ways to manage those things, all the while, still managing my introverted tendencies.
Think about how you feel about these things.
Your first reaction will be your compass, and if it unpleasantly sets your heart racing, don’t be resigning your job.
Not yet, anyway.
Are you flexible to change and moving in a different direction if you need to?
Some introverts are not “fly by your pants” kind of people.
Some need a firm structure and knowing what is coming tomorrow is a requirement for their inner soul to thrive.
Change is something you need to embrace wholeheartedly. You will need to make decisions quickly and generally make those decisions on your own.
Being comfortable enough to change your direction when something in your freelancing career isn’t working. Being flexible around your developing business is the name of the game.
So, be mindful on how limber you can be to changing deadlines, insistent clients, and the different ebbs and flows that will be your own business.
Are you willing to ask for and accept help, and then take action on that help?
I often wonder if it is just me, or a general trait of an introvert that help is difficult to ask for? Maybe this trait is not only an introverts trait?
I was once told that perhaps I don’t know the questions to ask. When I thought about it, that isn’t an aspect of being an introvert, but probably just a result of not knowing the subject matter as well as I should have.
One thing I have learned, and I learned very quickly, that moving into a career where I needed to learn skills, I still needed to put my hand up when I wasn’t sure on something.
You can learn new skills, and come to grips with the practice of, for example, setting up a website, but the intricacies, if you are not trained in it, still need to be ironed out.
So asking for help and being comfortable to do it when you need it, is paramount.
That is not the final step in asking for help, though.
Once you have asked for help and have received it, you have to take action on it. This action is often met with fear. I am sure both introverts and extraverts will resonate with fear being a huge stumbling block in having to take action.
The crux here is that inactivity in a corporate career is not likely to derail you completely. Inertia, when you are freelancing and plotting your own course as it where will lead to nothing.
Nothing for a freelancer, is just that, nothing. No clients. No salary.
You, as a brand!
What!? For the introvert, this is most likely going to be the biggest challenge.
Me, a brand! That requires me to “put myself out there.”
I know when I was faced with this particular question, I felt such a sense of loss. You see, I have massive goals in place. I knew that if I didn’t overcome this, I would be setting my goals and values aside.
These goals need me to be freed up from traditional work life. You know, that work that has some of us going to an office between 9 to 5. The work-life of not having the flexibility of time off or having only a certain amount of time off.
My goals just will not be achieved with me living out the rest of my days in this particular structure.
I am overcoming this aspect by taking baby steps. Easing myself into the process. Every day, it becomes easier and easier.
It goes without saying that when you start to promote yourself as a brand, you should go to people who already know you. Your friends, your family are going to be your best boost into the world of freelance.
Those you know best, and who know you in return, will be your most trusted companions on your journey.
Likewise, with acquaintances and colleagues where you have previously established a respectful relationship, they too could pass on the word about your new-found venture.
Once you are going, it really does become so much easier.
Freelancing can be the best job for an introvert.
For me, I enjoy working independently, and the truth is told; I love not having to manage unsettling interactions at meetings, for example. Having to manage the aspect of attending a year-end function! For me, this was always just a step too far.
As with anything new, you have to be willing to learn, be willing to listen, and be helped and most of all be consistent in the pursuit of your goals.
Even for the most introverted introvert, if you are showing up daily, you will gain confidence, and before you know it, you will be a freelancer.
An introverted freelancer, who doesn’t have to go to year-end functions!