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Why Some Talented Freelancers Fail at Running a Business

Updated on January 17th, 2022
Photographer Guide

Here’s a nugget of truth — It took me several years to realize that talent isn’t the main key to becoming a successful freelancer.

Sounds crazy, right? Hear me out.

For years my business had been profitable, but not to the point where I wanted it to be. It was only after taking a hard look at my mindset and learning harsh lessons last year that I was able to double my monthly income.

This is something I believe all freelancers (especially those in a creative discipline) need to understand to grow their business. You could be an excellent writer, graphic designer, photographer, web designer, speaker, or consultant. You may even look around you and see other successful freelancers getting jobs who have half as much skill as you do.

Talent alone can only get you so far. You need to work on your money mindset and your business skills.

Other freelancers make money hand over fist because they understand that pushing boundaries, marketing, selling, branding, and creating business systems are what take them to the next level. When I figured this step out, it was the final piece of the puzzle.

Here’s Permission to Make Money from Your Art

It’s easy for creatives to get stuck in this martyr mindset where we’re just thankful to be getting paid for doing our craft. We don’t feel comfortable asking for more money. We feel don’t feel comfortable marketing ourselves for fear that we’ll look like a “sell out.”

Creatives have so many fears surrounding money that instead of treating ourselves like full-fledged business owners we scrounge around for low paying projects here and there.

Creative freelancers are worthy of making real money, but you won’t get the real money unless you start giving yourself permission to command higher pay.

Are you running a real business?

Creatives tend to be right-brained. We’re intuitive, subjective, and abstract thinkers. Having this way of thinking only took me to one level in business.

My business went through growing pains because organization and systems are not my forte. I’m the creator and the thinker. I learned that if you want to grow a six-figure or seven-figure business, you need to be acting like the person who runs that type of business. A six-figure or seven-figure business owner has a clear vision, systems, and likely a team supporting them.

Take an honest look at what you’re currently doing.

Do you right now have the capabilities, systems, and processes to on-board the amount of work that’s required to meet your income goal?

Are you running a real business or taking odd jobs to make ends meet?

These are tough questions to answer. Being honest with myself was when I had a major wake up call. I had to reorganize my brand, finances, and processes to feel confident pitching and asking for more work. I had to think of myself as a real business owner and not just a talented creative person.

Final Word

Skills are important and the world needs creative people. But to make money from your creativity, you have to start treating what you do like a real business.

You need the proper invoicing, accounting, on-boarding, and operating systems. Clients can tell the difference when you’re organized and confident in what you’re doing. High ticket clients are paying for peace of mind.

Taylor Gordon

Taylor Gordon

Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money, a personal finance and productivity blog on hacking your way to a happier savings account. Taylor has contributed to MagnifyMoney, The Huffington Post, GoGirl Finance, Madame Noire, and The Write Life.

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