Deliberate Freelancer podcast

Deliberate Freelancer

Melanie Padgett Powers

The show for those who want to build a successful freelance business. We are NOT about the hustle. We are NOT about the feast-or-famine cycle. We are about building a business. Deliberately.

129 Episódios

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    REPLAY: #86: What I Wish for Your Freelance Business in 2021


    I’m replaying this January 2021 episode to hopefully motivate you, inspire you and encourage you to do some of these things if you haven’t already yet this year. The year is starting to wind down, incredibly enough, so let’s embrace these concepts and set up our businesses for success now. This episode might also be a good reminder of how to think like a business owner and how now to take time to improve your business. This episode goes through seven areas that I would love for you to improve upon, if you haven’t already. They are: 1. Embrace a business owner mindset This idea is what this podcast is based on. Think of yourself as a freelance business owner and all that that entails. Words matter, and the words you tell yourself and others can help to change your mindset. 2. Raise your rates The pandemic has been a hard year economically too, so raising rates for all clients might not be doable. But there are some clients who fared well, and it may be time to raise your rates. It’s certainly time to raise your rates for potential clients — they don’t know what your past rates were! Also, if you have a secret hourly rate — which helps you determine project rates and/or is the amount you aim to earn every hour you are working for clients — I encourage you to raise it by at least $25 an hour. And don't ask your client about raising your rates. Remember, you are a business owner and costs go up. So, you can send an email and say “I wanted to let you know that my rates are going up as of such and such a date. My new rate will be this.” 3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket It’s important to have anchor clients, but when you commit too much time to an anchor client or become too comfortable with that gig and that income, it can hurt you if you lose that client. Ideally, I would consider not having one client that is more than 35% of your income. When I talk about don’t put all your eggs in one basket, I also mean your services. This can mean your services and/or your industry. Do you need to expand your niche to have niches that are similar? Can you use your skills to add more services for clients? 4. Don’t compare yourself to others Sometimes you do this without even thinking about it. You look at others in your field, even friends of yours who are freelancers, and see their amazing careers or their clients or the big achievements they’ve reached. I can fall prey to this just like anyone else. We have to stop comparing ourselves to others. You are a unique individual, and your business is unique. You have different strengths and weaknesses and values and responsibilities and desires. First, social media. What social media platforms are you on often and how do they make you feel? Are you happy when you scroll through Instagram and see what people are doing and read motivational quotes? Or does it make you feel lazy or like a failure or that you need to do more? Maybe it is time to get off Instagram! This goes for all social media platforms. Take a critical look at how your viewing and interaction with these platforms make you feel. Another suggestion: Start a gratitude practice. Perhaps you want to start a gratitude journal to write down one to three simple things that you are thankful for that day. I embrace the word “savor” and try to remember to savor all the little things throughout the day. Another way to express gratitude in your life is to acknowledge and thank other people. You can still do that as a freelancer. You can let your direct client know if a staff member is really helpful on something. Complimenting and acknowledging people is like volunteering; it makes you feel good to make other people feel good. One more way to stop comparing yourself to others is to be alert for the word “should.” Anytime you say you “should” be doing something, catch yourself or have your partner or a friend call you out on it. “Should” often comes with shame and guilt. It makes you feel bad and does little to improve any situation. So stop shoulding yourself. 5. Set boundaries Boundaries tell you and those around you what is acceptable, appropriate human behavior. They vary from person to person. Knowing what your boundaries are and setting them is critical to building healthy, respectful relationships in your life. So, please check out episode #45 of Deliberate Freelancer for tips on setting boundaries. 6. Get ahold of your finances For many of us, 2020 blew up our financial goals and plans. Now that the dust has settled a bit, if you haven’t already, I highly encourage you in this first quarter of 2021 to get ahold of your finances. This could be a variety of things — it will be different for everyone, If you need help with your finances, I highly recommend episode #28 of Deliberate Freelancer, with my guest Pam Capalad. Pam is a certified financial planner and a whiz when it comes to this stuff. 7. Take a vacation or staycation Plan time off now! Some freelancers tend to be bad in general about taking time off. My argument is always: If I’m going to take only 2-3 weeks of vacation a year or less, when I’m my own boss, than why am I my own boss? I shouldn’t treat myself worse than an employer would. Freelancing means freedom. If you don’t schedule vacations, staycations and days off, they often won’t happen. Even if you can’t really go anywhere because of the pandemic, you can play a staycation or other days off. I want all of you to get into a regular habit of planning and taking vacations — and DO NOT check email or do or check in on client work. That’s not a vacation. It can be done. Remember, you’re your own boss. You tell your clients you’re going to be away. Depending on how regular the work is you may have to work ahead to get stuff done or hire a subcontractor to fill in. Or, take advantage of slow work times. You can also create working vacations, like I do in Indiana for two weeks most summers. The freedom to work anywhere gives you the flexibility to go places and keep in touch without having to completely log off work. Biz Bite: After/then habits The Bookshelf: “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue Resources Episode #1 of Deliberate Freelancer: Change Your Mindset: You Own a Freelance Business Episode #39 of Deliberate Freelancer: Raise Your Rates—Without Emotion Episode #23 of Deliberate Freelancer: Five Questions to Evaluate and Diversify Your Services Episode #45 of Deliberate Freelancer: You Need to Set Boundaries Episode #28 of Deliberate Freelancer: Take Charge of Your Finances, with Pamela Capalad
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    #116: How to Create Case Studies to Land New Clients, with Emma Siemasko


    Today’s guest is Emma Siemasko, the founder of Stories By Us, a content marketing business. Emma, who lives in San Jose, California, also offers freelance writing coach and is co-host of the Freelance Writing Coach podcast.  Emma has been a solopreneur for six years. She is an expert on writing case studies to promote our businesses. She created the DIY Case Study Kit and has created dozens of case studies and customer stories for tech companies and solopreneurs. Emma’s clients include Figma, Grammarly and Salesforce. A case study is “the story of a customer’s transformation because they used your product or services.” Case studies go beyond testimonials and LinkedIn recommendations. Case studies allow you to get more specific about what it was like to work with you, plus you can share results. Melanie thinks of case studies as being sprinkled around solopreneurs’ websites. But there are several ways you can use case studies. Case studies can be emailed as pdfs as part of your sales pitch or during onboarding. You can also pull out a quote from a case study and post it as a testimonial on your website. When choosing which clients to write case studies about, you may want to develop a case study for each one of the services you offer or each one of the niches/industries you cover. Your case study should tell a great story. This includes sharing your customer’s challenge, how you solved it and the results. The best case studies require getting a client’s permission and interviewing them about the relationship and project. Have a good set of questions written down. But if you feel uncomfortable or awkward doing that interview, you can outsource the interview part. Once you write the case study, send it to your client for review. Emma explains how to write a case study if you’re “only” writing an article or doing a straightforward project that doesn’t seem to lend itself to case studies at first—or you aren’t privy to metrics. Results don’t have to be metrics. Results can be how you made their job easier and what you were like to work with. Be creative in how you think about results. What was the value of working with you? Emma also talks about the nitty-gritty details: length, format, design.   Biz Bite: Use minimal viable systems. The Bookshelf: “Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire” by Lizzie Johnson   Resources: Emma’s Go-To Case Study Interview Questions   Case study examples: The Core Centers How NFI Used WorkStep Retain to Improve Frontline Retention How Laura Got a 711% Return on Her Ad Spend How Kira Hug Helped Business By Design Drive Almost $500,000 in One Launch How Weebly Saved “a Million” Hours on Content Production and Achieved a 3X ROI   Emma’s website, Stories By Us Emma on Twitter Emma on LinkedIn Freelance Writing Coach podcast Emma’s DIY Case Study Kit to purchase—use the Code PODCAST to get 20% off. Emma’s Case Study Email Templates to purchase    
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    #115: Time Tracking Lessons from Deliberate Freelancer Listeners


    Today’s show is all about the benefits of time tracking. But it’s not about my experience today. Instead, five Deliberate Freelancer listeners sent in audio files about their time-tracking experiences and explained the various ways time tracking has helped their freelance business. Information is power. I believe if you know how you’re really spending your time—rather than making assumptions or incorrectly guessing—you can begin to figure out where you want to make changes and make better use of your time. I hope you find my guests’ tips helpful today. And thank you to these lovely guests and listeners for participating!   Biz Bite: Download potential clients’ lead magnets. The Bookshelf: “What Could Be Saved” by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz   Resources: Subscribe to the Deliberate Freelancer newsletter. Episode #10 of Deliberate Freelancer: Think Like a Marketer to Grow Your Business, with Megy Karydes Episode #91 of Deliberate Freelancer: All Things Pricing: Project Rates, Day Rates, Retainers and More, with Jennifer Duann Fultz Episode #59 of Deliberate Freelancer: Parenting while Freelancing (with or without a pandemic), with Amy Ragland  
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    #114: Building a Successful Business with ADHD, with Courtney Chaal


    Today’s guest is Courtney Chaal. Courtney is an American now living in Vancouver in Canada. Courtney helps creatives, coaches and consultants stop being broke and start getting more clients by creating an irresistible service that they can eventually turn into a scalable offer. End goal? Freedom! Courtney is a copywriter turned business coach obsessed with making complex concepts (like business models and sales copy) simple and tangible to help regular people get big results. Over the past 10 years, her business has evolved from her writing custom proposals to now launching digital products and programs, including her high-ticket coaching program, called Yay for 100K. Courtney was diagnosed in July 2020 with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). Before her diagnosis, she was struggling with managing her business: “I was dropping a lot of balls; I thought I was really organized and I just kept forgetting things. I was struggling with feeling like I should be more on top of things than I was.” Some ways ADHD manifested in Courtney was that her house was messy, she would forget things—one time, she bought two plane tickets to the same conference. When her mom first suggested she might have ADHD in 2020, Courtney first took a short online quiz, which found she had a high correlation with ADHD. One she was formally diagnosed, she said, “I never felt so validated in my entire life. … I thought I had 100 different small problems and what this showed me was that every single thing I was struggling with in my life was one thing.” Melanie shares that her husband also has ADHD and was only diagnosed a few years ago in his 40s. Courtney believes the name of ADHD is misleading because people with ADHD don’t often have a lack of attention; they have a lack of control over where their attention goes. In fact, people with ADHD often hyper-focus on something they are interested in at the moment, forgetting many other responsibilities. Courtney also doesn’t like the word “disorder.” Her ADHD is just a neutral quality of how her brain functions, with both pros and cons. As Courtney explains, an ADHD brain is wired for interest over importance. Until something becomes an emergency, it’s not important for ADHDers to deal with. Courtney long knew there were certain things she wasn’t good at in her business—following through, organization—but her diagnosis allowed her to let go of trying to be good at those things. It gave her permission to hire a full-time operations manager. ADHD has both negatives and positives. Courtney sees her ADHD as her superpower. If she didn’t have ADHD, she would also be giving up her creativity, her out-of-the-box thinking, her problem-solving, her big picture thinking skills, her humor and being quick on her feet. No one person gets to have all the good qualities and none of the challenges. Instead of developing “coping” strategies, Courtney lets go of other people’s strategies. For example, she tries not to buy the planners at the beginning of the year because she knows that she won’t use a planner. Outsourcing has helped her tremendously with areas of friction. She outsources her laundry, orders groceries online, hires a cleaning person and uses meal prep services. You can also find smaller, simpler strategies to help in areas of friction for you. For example, whenever Courtney prepares to leave the house, she always says the mantra “wallet, keys, phone,” so she can be sure not to forget one of those things. She also recently had keyless entry installed on her apartment. She also hates hanging up coats on hangars, so she makes sure to have hooks instead, which she’ll use, and that they’re in the right place. Biz Bite: Do a brain dump: When you fall into an overwhelming “pit of despair,” stop and write down everything swirling in your brain that you have to get done.   Resources: Courtney on Instagram Courtney on Twitter Courtney’s Rebel Productivity Facebook group A Guide to ADHD ADDitude magazine    
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    #113: How to Build Relationships, Not a Network, with Anna Hetzel


    Today’s guest is Anna Hetzel, from Columbus, Ohio. Anna is the owner and founder of Strange Birds, a business they started five years ago in which they convert copywriting and strategy for websites and community design and strategy.   Anna works with service providers and entrepreneurs who are trying to expand their reach and figure out how to talk to their ideal clients and build more scalable offers through paid online communities.   Hear the fun story about how Anna named their business Strange Birds.   A lot of freelance advice is about how to grow your network. But Anna approached it differently. From day one, they approached it based on relationships: “I didn’t give two hoots about how many people I was connected to. What mattered to me was did I have good relationships I was connected to.”   The value of that relationship building showed up when the pandemic hit. Instead of having just a lot of names of people Anna had met, they had real relationships.   Melanie talks about how she hates the traditional cocktail hour networking event where she doesn’t know anyone. Anna offers a tip: Anna’s goal at those events is to make one friend—not one contact, but one friend. That helped them filter out the noise and overwhelm.   At networking events, we may feel pressured to meet 12 new people and begin to develop opportunities. But opportunities take time. Focus on making one new friend instead.   There’s a difference between a network and a community: “It’s the difference between a list of contacts versus a group of people that are mutually invested in each other’s success.”   Your social media following or your email list is a network. They are not a community; they are your audience.   It can be hard to make friends as an adult! Find what you’re good at—like writing or photography—and read related social media posts and comment thoughtfully. Give your energy in that space.   As for virtual events, it’s OK to decline those and set boundaries. Do what makes you feel comfortable. That includes not turning on your video during Zoom calls.   Anna uses the five love languages to build relationships in their business too. The love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gift giving and physical touch. Anna modifies the “physical touch” love language for the business world to think of it as “human to human.” Add a human touch, such as by sending gifs of people or a video of you reacting to an email.   Biz Bite: Before tomorrow, write out what an amazing day means to you (both in work and life) and build your business ferociously around those guidelines.   Resources: Sign up for Anna’s email list at and receive a quick guide to match your unique skills and simple-to-implement scalable ways to move away from transactional contacts and into real relationships.   Anna on Instagram   Episode #112 of Deliberate Freelancer: How and When to Say No   “Hoatzin: the Strangest Bird in the Amazon?”   Loom (send quick video messages)   What Are the Five Love Languages?  
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    #112: How and When to Say No


    I am really good at saying no. Today, I’m going to walk you through nine common scenarios freelance business owners experience and tell you how I say no to these questions and situations. Even if the language I use doesn’t resonate with you, I hope it will get you thinking, encourage you to say no more often and help you figure out how to say no in your own words. “No” is a complete sentence. You’ve heard that, right? But in business there usually needs to be a bit more finesse than that. And there are a lot of different ways to say no depending on the situation. Whenever you are considering anything—whenever you are trying to decide whether to do something, always keep in mind: You are a business owner. You are in charge of your business, your life and your career. YOU choose who you work with, just as much as they are choosing you. YOU choose what you are worth. YOU set the parameters. Everything can be negotiated. You are a business owner. Words to stop using: Just Unfortunately I’m sorry (except in rare cases, like when you actually make a mistake).   Don’t qualify your answer. Don’t apologize for how you run your business. And stop over-explaining things when you say no.   Scenario #1: You don’t want to do the project. My answer: Thanks for reaching out, but this project is not the right fit for me.   Scenario #2: You don’t have time. My answers (here’s where it might be OK to say “I’m sorry” if that makes you feel better): I’m sorry, I am fully booked for the next month. I’m sorry, I am fully booked for the three weeks. Is there any flexibility with the deadline?   Scenario #3: You are asked to sign an onerous contract (non-compete, insurance requirement, indemnity clause). My answers (first, try to negotiate): Can we strike the indemnity clause from the contract? Indemnity clauses put all legal risk on my solo business and I cannot sign contracts with them. or, offer to replace the clause: I cannot sign a contract with an indemnity clause. Indemnity clauses put all legal risk on my solo business. I will guarantee my work, though. Can we replace the indemnity clause with the following guarantee: The writer guarantees that the articles she writes will not contain material that is consciously libelous or defamatory, to the best of her ability.   If I’m asked to sign a non-compete, the answer is always no. That’s non-negotiable as a freelancer, so I’ll say: As a freelance business owner with multiple clients, I cannot sign a non-compete.   The end. They can take that or leave it. The same goes for insurance (for me, personally).   Scenario #4: The pay is too low. My answer: This is much lower than what I charge. I charge XX per XX. Is that within your budget?   If they say no, or if they can’t negotiate to an acceptable rate, I usually respond with something like: I’m unable to do the project at this rate. Thanks for thinking of me and I wish you luck.   Scenario #5: Vague requests or “can we get on the phone?” or “what are your rates?” My answer: Could you email me a bit more about what you’re looking for and what your budget is so I can determine if I might be a good fit?   Scenario #6. Can you lower your price? My answer: No. In an email, I might say: No, I can’t lower my price.   Scenario #7: The client asks for something beyond the scope of work. My answer: I’m happy to to do this work. However, the original proposal included XYZ and was based on a maximum of XXX words/pages/parameters, which is what I provided. I can do this extra work at an additional rate of $XXX/hour. I would estimate approximately 2-3 more hours would be needed.   Scenario #8: Can I pick your brain? My answer—I may not answer an email at all if I don’t know them. You don’t have to respond to people. It’s not the law. I will also point people to relevant podcast episodes instead—you can do that with a blog or other articles too. Or I say: I’d be happy to talk with you. My consulting fee is XX per hour. or I offer a 30-minute coaching call for XX dollars.   Scenario #9: Someone asks you to volunteer or speak at an event and you cannot. My answer: I’m sorry, I don’t have the capacity to add anything else to my plate right now. or I would love to, but I’m completely booked right now and can’t commit to any more volunteering opportunities. or What is the payment for speaking? (or What is the compensation?) or I don’t do unpaid speaking. Do you have a budget in mind?   Biz Bite: Save a script of how to say no.   The Bookshelf: “The Nothing Man” and ALL the books by Irish crime writer Catherine Ryan Howard   Resources: Subscribe to the Deliberate Freelancer newsletter. Episode #45 of Deliberate Freelancer: You Need to Set Boundaries Episode #102 of Deliberate Freelancer: Freelancer Survival Skills + a Pep Talk about Boundaries, with Sarah Townsend Episode #91 of Deliberate Freelancer: All Things Pricing: Project Rates, Day Rates, Retainers and More, with Jennifer Duann Fultz  
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    #111: Offering Courses and Coaching, with Translator Madalena Sanchez Zampaulo


    Today’s guest is Madalena Sanchez Zampaulo. Madalena lives in Southern California and owns a boutique translation agency called Accessible Translation Solutions, which she opened in 2010. She continues to do freelance translation work as well, specializing in medicine and life sciences. Madalena shares her knowledge and years of research to help freelance translators and interpreters improve their online presence—from their websites and LinkedIn profiles to SEO and copywriting. She does this through her blog, as well as courses, webinars and coaching and as co-host of the podcast Smart Habits for Translators. I asked Madalena to come on the podcast after I saw how she revamped her website earlier this year. I was impressed with all the services and products she offers other freelancers and how she organized them all into a Resource Library. Today, Madalena talks about blogging, creating courses and becoming a coach for other freelancers.   Madalena translates from Spanish and Portuguese to English. She explains the difference between a translator (written) and an interpreter (spoken). Madalena is a six-figure freelancer. She offers two ways to get there: Diversify your services and work with the right clients—those who see you as a partner and pay well. Madalena started marketing her services through a blog and then created an email list to send out new blog posts and other content. She commits to posting on her blog every other week—weekly seemed too cumbersome—but she also takes breaks and vacations when she needs to. Three areas that have helped her market her business are her email list, social media and word-of-mouth. In fact, the latter is probably the biggest driver for her business. Public speaking also drives a lot of people to her blog, email list and social media. Madalena breaks down the type of courses she has offered to freelance business owners and how that has evolved over the past few years. She now offers monthly office hour for her course students over Zoom, modeled after a professor’s “office hours.” She sets a block of time she’s always available and students can hop on Zoom to ask any questions. She also has a community for her course students in Slack. Before you start creating courses, consider what you can offer that fills a need in the space. What are the motivations people have for taking your course? What is the transformation your students want from your course? When creating your course think about how to relay complex information in a logical way.  When considering coaching, Madalena said: “I listened to what people were asking me for and decided ‘is this something I can offer well and offer successfully?’” With coaching, you don’t have to have all the answers or offer advice. Coaching often means offering people a new perspective and new ideas they didn’t think of. You are helping them figure out how to get unstuck or providing encouragement or reassurance. Before you offer coaching, consider what you can offer that fills a gap for people. There are coaches for every topic. What is it that you can provide that people really need and how can you meet them where they are? How can you be different from what’s already available? Delivery of coaching is important. Consider whether you want to coach—or your clients want coaching—that is face-to-face, via Zoom, or via phone, text or email. Giving people options can be helpful. If you’re going to become a coach, think it through. Take the pulse of the people who will actually pay for your services. Try it out. Once you commit to coaching someone, it may be long-term. You can’t just quit it immediately. People are expecting you to show up. Creating is exhausting. You can be more productive if you give yourself a break. Go for a walk. Do some chores and just let yourself think. That’s part of the creation process—giving yourself enough space to think something through.   Biz Bite: Do something today that your tomorrow self will thank you for.   Resources: Accessible Translation Solutions  Madalena on Twitter Madalena on Instagram Smart Habits for Translators podcast MemberSpace for courses Loom for video messaging Vimeo for videos Contentstudio for social media management Subscribe to the Deliberate Freelancer newsletter.
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    #110: Getting Stuff Done in Indiana


    This week is a short episode because I’m supposed to be on vacation. Tune in to hear how this part-working vacation, part unplugged real vacation is going so far.   Biz Bite: Schedule a Monthly Self-Care Reminder   The Bookshelf: “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir   Resources: Subscribe to the Deliberate Freelancer newsletter.
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    REPLAY #43: 33 Ways to Find More Clients


    On today’s show I go over 33 ways you can find new clients. This is a replay of episode #43, which came out January 23, 2020, before we knew what was in store for us. A couple of my recommendations refer to in-person conferences and in-person networking, which is not happening for most us right now during the pandemic. However, just imagine that I’m saying “virtual conference” every time because I’ve found virtual conferences these page 18 months to be great for networking, providing presentations to a wide audience, and education. So, consider what you can do with virtual conferences to gain new clients. But before you embark on a project to find new clients, do a little prep work. First, consider what type of work you truly want more of. What do you love to do? What work pays well? Focus on that. Next, raise your rates. Then, be crystal clear on what you want to say to those potential clients. Focus on how you can help them and what they want. Now, you’re ready to find new clients. Here are my tips (scroll down to the Resources section for a printable pdf of this list): Ask current clients for new work. Ask current or past clients for referrals. Go to industry conferences. Maximize your LinkedIn profile and add keywords. Send a ridiculous number of letters of introduction (LOIs). Follow up on past LOIs or with people you’ve met in real life. Add a new service. Apply to speak at conferences as an expert in your field. Reach out to your contacts who are at new jobs. Write a guest blog post in your industry. Ramp up your social media game. Go old school and mail out postcards to a select group. Join organizations and make sure to fill out your profile in the online directory. Apply to win awards in your field. Be active in Facebook groups and/or Twitter chats. Create a private Twitter list of potential clients. Launch or revive your blog. Create an email list. Create a newsletter. Create a freebie. Set up keyword searches on Twitter. Ask for testimonials from happy clients. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Try Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. Be a guest on a podcast. Revamp your website. Update your online portfolio. Consider partnerships. Answer job ads. Go to local events. Connect with a co-working space. Tell everyone you meet what you do. Fire a client. Biz Bite: Stop reading and listening to things that make you angry. The Bookshelf: “Daisy Jones & the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid Resources: 33 Ways to Find More Clients printable pdf Episode #23 of Deliberate Freelancer: Five Questions to Evaluate and Diversify Your Services Episode #18 of Deliberate Freelancer: How to Set Higher Rates Episode 22 of Deliberate Freelancer: How to Create a Better Work-Life Balance, with Laura Poole Episode #6 of Deliberate Freelancer: Make the Most of Conferences Episode #24 of Deliberate Freelancer: Networking Tips, Especially as an Introvert Episode #20 of Deliberate Freelancer: How to Use LinkedIn Better to Find Clients, with Phaedra Brotherton
  • Deliberate Freelancer podcast

    #109: How to Recognize and Overcome Perfectionism, with Suzy Bills


    Today’s guest is Suzy Bills from Utah. Suzy  is an editor and author and a faculty member in the editing and publishing program at Brigham Young University (BYU). She was previously a lead editor for the Joseph Smith Papers, and she’s owned a writing and editing business for more than a decade. Suzy’s book, “The Freelance Editor’s Handbook” is being published this fall by the University of California Press. She is also starting to offer business consulting and coaching for freelancers. Suzy began freelancing on the side in 2006 while working as an editor full-time. She became a full-time freelancer in 2011. She started at BYU as an adjunct professor and was offered a full-time position in 2017. She continues to maintain her writing and editing business. Perfectionism is a personality characteristic that causes people to strive to be flawless. That causes them to set really high standards and be quite critical in how they evaluate their performance. It often leads people to think they shouldn’t make any mistakes. Perfectionism can be destructive, but it can also have positive qualities. Suzy saw perfectionism in herself and worked to turn it into a positive attribute. Perfectionism can lead to obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, eating disorders and more. There are two types of perfectionism: adaptive/constructive and maladaptive/destructive. With adaptive perfectionism, people set high standards and are motivated to reach them in encouraging and exciting ways. This can lead to happiness, a sense of meaning and satisfaction with life. With maladaptive perfectionism, people set high standards but aren’t optimistic they can achieve them. It leads to self-criticism, stress and low self-esteem, which often leads to burnout. And too much stress on yourself can actually lead to lower performance on a project or task. Overcoming perfectionism is mostly about changing our thinking. We can be working on the exact same project but look at our goals and success in different ways. Perfectionism causes some people to not even start their freelance business. It causes freelance business owners to not reach out to new clients, to not start new services, to discount projects and give refunds over small mistakes. Humans, including copy editors, aren’t perfect. Industry standards say 90% accuracy in editing is achievable and acceptable. Copy editors are not always going to be 100% accurate. (This is also a good reason to hire a proofreader later on.) How can we recognize and manage perfectionism? Practice being self-aware and catching yourself when you’re in a perfectionism spiral. Are you using your perfectionism in a healthy way? Perfectionism might manifest as being cruel to yourself. At that point, put your thoughts on trial. Stop being the prosecutor and be the objective judge or jury. Find and evaluate the evidence that shows what you are thinking is not accurate (for example, success on a last project, this client rehired you). You may also identify an area of weakness. That’s OK. If that happens, create a plan about improving that weakness. Ask yourself: Where was the breakdown that led to that mistake? It is a process issue, overwork, lack of sleep or lack of skills? To encourage a positive mindset, create a mantra that works for you and repeat it multiple times every day. It might feel silly at first, but you will start to internalize it and believe it. Accountability partners can also help reassure you when you’re being too hard on yourself. It’s also important and helpful for people to talk about their mistakes and weaknesses to normalize that we are not perfect. Write down your thoughts, especially because people tend to ruminate on the bad thoughts and situation. Writing can help get it out of your mind and allow you to move past it. Keep a record of positive feedback, whether in an email folder, a smartphone “boost bank” folder or in a praise jar. If you do discover you made a mistake, you are likely to react physically. So, change that physical reaction. Take deep breaths, move your body to relax it. Walk around. Go for a longer walk. Next, take responsibility for a mistake with a client. That actually increases respect for you. Then, create an action plan to prevent that type of mistake in the future.   Biz Bite: Set Aside Professional Development Time Every Week   Resources: Suzy’s book, “The Freelance Editor’s Handbook” Suzy Bills on LinkedIn ACES–the Society for Editing Episode #70 of Deliberate Freelancer: Techniques to Deal with Anxiety from My New Therapist Episode #71 of Deliberate Freelancer: 3 Failures and the Lessons They Taught Me  

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