5 Common Fears of WordPress Freelancers and How to Beat Them

Posted on August 18, 2015 by in Tips & Tricks | 21 comments

5 Common Fears of WordPress Freelancers and How to Beat Them

Fear. No single emotion has greater potential to stop you from achieving your goals in life – if you choose to allow it.

Fear of failure, fear of making the wrong choice, fear of setting your prices incorrectly, fear of not being able to land clients – the potential sources of fear is as varied as the number of different types of freelancers working today.

Look, no one ever said that launching a career as a WordPress freelancer would be easy. If that’s what you were told, I don’t think you received information that was entirely accurate.

Being a freelancer is hard work.

Sometimes, it even feels impossible. There will be times when the fears inherent with freelance work and self-employment, in general, will cause you to have sleepless nights, and unproductive days. You might even find yourself reconsidering your career choice.

But you can control the severity of the impact that fear has on your life, your business, and your relationships. With practice, you can even use it to your advantage. Fear of not being able to pay your bills can be very motivating.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the more common fears that WordPress freelancers face. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned pro, you launched your business last week or are preparing to get started next week. Fear affects everyone, and I think you’ll find some of the ideas in this post will be capable of helping you move your business forward.

Fear Versus Anxiety

Anxiety, worry, angst and trepidation – we often lump all these emotions under the same umbrella called fear. But they can all have varying degrees and slightly different meanings. Although we’ll be referring to the emotion of fear, it should be pointed out that anxiety is closely related and could also be applied to all of the scenarios we’ll be discussing.

Fear is often considered to be a sudden, explosive response to something that is causing you immediate danger. Traveling to Pamplona to participate in the Running Of The Bulls is something that is likely to trigger a fear based response – the minute those gates open, you’ll be running for your life, right?

But launching your freelance WordPress business probably doesn’t cause that same fight or flight response. Instead, you’re faced with a feeling of anxiety that hangs over the decisions you need to make. It’s always present and it stops you from taking any real steps towards the achievement your goals.

If there is one thing worth learning about fear and anxiety when it comes to running your freelance business it’s that you have the ability to control your internal conversations. Once you learn to recognize the conversations happening inside your own head, you can change them in a way that is more likely to help you grow your business.

What we’re talking about here is your self-talk. You can choose positive self-talk or you can choose negative self-talk. Most of the time, the choice you make will dictate the overall direction of your business.

For example, you can choose to tell yourself that clients are a scarce commodity or you can tell yourself that there is an abundance of clients. Whichever one you choose, if you say it enough times, you’ll start to believe it.

Let’s take a look at some of the most specific situations or thoughts that you are up against as a WordPress Freelancer.

Are My Skills Good Enough?

At some point in time, almost everyone has to deal with the fear that their skills are not good enough. Most of the time, these fears are unfounded. Nevertheless, you worry that you’ll be discovered as a fraud or you’ll completely mess up with your first project, forever destroying your reputation.

Even the freelancers who don’t talk about this fear suffer from it at some point in time, usually is the early stages of starting a freelance business. These thoughts sometimes referred to as imposter syndrome can be overwhelming. Sometimes preventing you from ever taking the leap into freelancing.

You need to ask yourself, how realistic and how accurate are these thoughts that you’re having? The thing about your skill level is that it’s all relative. Chances are you know more about design or development than your clients does. As long as the gap between your knowledge is large enough, you have the ability to help them. Don’t forget, if you’re proactive, your level of knowledge tomorrow will be greater than it was today. Each day presents a new opportunity to improve.

I know what you’re thinking, there are hundreds of other Freelancers out there who know more than you do. That might be true, but instead of using that as an excuse to not get started, use it as a goal to work towards.

Will I Be Able to Earn an Income?

The idea of trading a stable paycheck for the uncertainty that comes with being a freelancer might be the only item on this list that is right up there with the fear that comes with The Running of The Bulls. If you have bills, rent, a mortgage or other people depending on your ability to earn an income, there is no way to sugar coat this – it can be scary.

The first thing you could do is look around at other freelancers who are working in the same space. If you’re developing plugins, put together a list of other successful plugin developers. If you’re a designer, put together a list of 5-10 freelancers who seem to have comparable skills. Learn everything you can from them by reading their blogs as well as learning who their clients are and what services they provide.

Ask yourself if whether or not anyone else in your space is earning an income. If you look around and can’t find anyone who seems to be earning a living, maybe you need to reconsider your approach. But if you find other freelancers doing what you want to do (as I know you will), you’ve got all the evidence you need.

The last thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to launch your freelance business. Do what’s right for you. If that means starting out part-time, there is nothing wrong with that approach. Build a small clientele, start generating some revenue and watch your confidence grow.

Am I Charging Too Much or Too Little?

The million dollar question. For whatever reason, freelancers spend a ridiculous amount of time worrying about their prices, especially when they are just starting out. Don’t make this decision more complicated than it needs to be.

There’s a common misconception that lower rates translate to more work, but that’s not usually the case. If you’re out shopping for a WordPress designer and you come across four websites:

  • Website #1 charges $13/hour
  • Website #2 charges $59/hour
  • Website #3 charges $79/hour
  • Website #4 charges $147/hour

What are the thoughts that immediately run through you mind? Chances are you think there’s something wrong with #1 – it’s far too cheap. Number four is at the other end of the scale – way too expensive. But numbers 2 and 3 seem to be in the right ballpark. Certainly not cheap but not exactly unaffordable either.

When you’re starting out, don’t spend a lot of time worrying about your rates. Set them at a level that seems fair, competitive and that will allow you to earn a healthy profit after all your expenses. They can always be changed.

The three the most important thing to remember about your rates as a freelancer are this:

  1. You’re not just paying yourself. You’re also responsible for paying your overhead and earning a profit.
  2. Over time, your rates should increase. Keeping them in line with your skills, experience, and workload.
  3. Don’t work for free. If you don’t respect your time, neither will your clients.

Will I Be Able to Find Enough Clients?

Many new freelancers have this underlying fear of not being able to find enough clients. Or, they fear that the day they open the doors for business, the market will shift. What appeared to be a sea of opportunity during the research phase will become a dried up riverbed.

The funny thing about clients is that the harder you look, the more you’ll find. The problem of not being able to find enough clients is usually caused by not looking hard enough. It too easy to sit back and wait for new clients to call, all the while building an argument that proves your original suspicions.

If you want clients, and you’re hungry enough, you’ll find them. And the amazing thing is that after you find a few, some of them will start to find you. Before you know it, you’ll be turning away work because you’re too busy.

How Will I Survive With All the Competition?

Competition can seem like a scary thing to a new freelancer. Anyone who works with WordPress can find literally hundreds or thousands of competitors. Visiting one of the big job boards like UpWork can literally send shivers down your spine.

How on earth are you supposed to compete with all those other professionals? It’s overwhelming to say the least. What you need to remember is that many of those freelancers who you see as competition are facing the same fears that you are reading about in this post.

Do you honestly think that all your competitors are as proactive and as hungry as you are? Probably not.

Instead of being fearful of competition, embrace it. Competition means there is a demand for your services. If you’re willing to work hard, you can probably discount 80% of your perceived competitors right out of the gate.

For the remaining 20%, realize that there is more than enough work to go around. Instead of going head-to-head against your competitors, consider reaching out to a few of them. Let them know about the kind of work you do and the services you offer.

In most situations, you’ll find that freelancers and entrepreneurs are fighting the same battle – an internal one. Most of them are more than happy to work together, collaborate and even refer business back and forth.

Wrap-Up

It’s always easy to rationalize your fears. It’s what most people do, day in and day out.

But being a freelancer, you are faced with a choice. You can tackle your fears head-on, discovering in the process, how easily they can be defeated. Or, you can give into your fears and accept defeat.

That’s part of what makes being a freelancer so great. You are in control of your own destiny.

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Throughout the whole process, the most important thing to remember is that there are worse things in the world than making mistakes.

If you really want to turn the tables on your fear, accept that making mistakes and being fearful is just a necessary part of achieving success. Some of the people that we perceive to be most successful have actually failed more often than anyone else.

What are some of the fears that you face as a WordPress freelancer?

Have you found that many of the fears you faced in starting your business never actually came true? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Article thumbnail image by Ingka D. Jiw / shutterstock.com

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21 Comments

  1. Psd to Wp coversion has been the biggest concern for me, I was able to overcome it using certain themes (headway to be exact) but then client demands have changed no clients wants to see PSD design first now just show them demo of the themes and thats enough. BTW I work on upwork.

  2. Great article. My biggest fear is being sued if someone’s website is hacked or any kind of lawsuit…

    • Meg, Lawsuits are prevalent these days, but the number one way to keep out of a court room is through communication and education of clients (plus contractual language of course, too). Educating a clients on website security is one of the processes we go through with every single project. Being factual with your education of clients on such security risks allows you to be seen as an authority figure to clients…but know what you are talking about.

      And just to be sure always include liability releases with every contract.

      My company is over 20 years old and the oldest web design/development and hosting company in Houston, Texas – webwize.com. we have never been sued (knock on wood), but our clients come to us for answers, not to blame. Stay in communication with your clients, be proactive not reactive and you will not be required to rise from your seat when the judge enters the room.

      Good luck
      GBrooks

  3. Thanks for the excellent “imposter syndrome” link exposing the root causes of this fear.

  4. As a freelancer, I can identify with almost all of the above. But the Imposter Syndrome is probably my worst fear. I am a self-taught web designer – I did not go to school for web or graphic design. Although I’ve been a freelancer for over 25 years, the doubt still creeps in… “I’m pretending to know what I’m doing – will I get found out?” The saying, “Fake it till you Make it.” is my mantra. After 25 years, I’m still “faking it.” LOL

    When I started out I charged $50/hr for design work (the www wasn’t around). The rate was an industry average at the time for graphic designers. But because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I would spend 2-3 hrs and charge for 1. I still do that with web design. When doing something new that I’ve never done before, I charge for the time I think it would take for someone that knows what they are doing would take.

    My “Fake it till you Make it” has kept me going for 25 years. Although I still suffer from the “Imposter Syndrome” I look back over 25 years to where I was and where I am and at least for a little while, the “Imposter Syndrome” is pushed aside… until someone asks me to set up a membership site for them!

    • The “fake it till you make it” mantra got me a career as a journalist and then as a designer and illustrator. I don’t think the imposter syndrome ever goes away entirely, but I also think that no amount of formal education can train you in the same way as being self taught. Without sounding like I’m on myself (which I’m totally not!), I think being self taught is what gives me my voice as a designer. I don’t know the rules (so to speak) so I don’t care if I break them!

  5. I have no fears. 🙂

  6. Joe,

    Thank you so much for this article.

    I’ve found myself in it.

    -Sam

  7. Legit fears and a good article to start out. Having a contract is a important. I also found it helpful to have a blanket proposal that I tweak on a project per project basis. my biggest fear starting out was always “will I be able to keep up with the work if I get really busy” and “what if I can’t solve a problem for this client” – actually that still happens but I suppose I have more resources and less fear about that these days. Most of my anxiety now comes from scope creepers, staying on budget and maintaining profit margin, being able to offer quality product and still enjoy what I do, working smart not hard but still offering excellent service and being available to clients, knowing when to say no, and yes– any sort of legal issue is always a fear.

  8. I had a chuckle to begin with. I saw the headline of this article and went to read it straight from the ET Blog page. When I clicked the title I got a 404 Error and I thought yes, that probably is one of the most common fears of WordPress freelancers.

    Great article and well timed as usual !

    • oh, the dreaded 404 error. 5 seconds of panic followed by a facepalm.

      And yes, good article!

  9. This was a great article. JayGee Dezigns, LLC have created a service called Managed Website Services that helps its clients manage their website, with developer capabilities.

  10. Great article for which many thanks. I well understand the points you make but would add – communication is key and there are many great people on the web who are willing to advise on almost technical issue you can think of if you get stuck when developing..

    Many clients do not understand the need that web sites – particularly WordPress ones to be maintend and updated throughout the year. Getting them to understand this is difficult as they fear they are being taken advantage of. Consequently I end up charging a lower rate that I should do for this which is wrong.

    What do others think ?

    Thanks once again for the article.

  11. For me, fear is good because it makes me more conscious about my work.Alwaye I try to remove every reason of my fear.But onething we should remember, victory is just on step ahead of fear.So first we should remove this fear and I think this article can be a best solution.

  12. Love this article and thank you for taking time to share with everyone. Imposter? Me? Absolutely! My biggest challenge is that I’m too busy and I’ve only doing wordpress designs for a few years and am self taught and still learning everyday. My key is to be transparent with my clients and explain the process and what WordPress is or isn’t. I work mostly with small businesses who have no clue even where to start (like most people) so I guide them and we work as a team. I have 25 years of sales & marketing experience so I pay close attention to the clients needs and what their goals are first and foremost. New tools and changes within the industry are daily so spend an hour or so a day “tweaking” your skills and reading what others have to have offer. Love Fake it till you make it! If you want new business – ask for it

  13. Thanks so much ! Love to read this great article.
    I am just starting, a bit lost, lots of fears. Feeling like a newbie… Am I good enough ? Do I deserve an income ? Silly questions maybe…
    But, I know I work hard, I know I am a freakin perfectionist (hard sometimes ^^), I think I take the time to understand my clients and find the best solutions to finally improve my skills.

    Thank you again, It helps me a lot !

  14. Great article and some very valid points I run a small business and have taught myself the web to generate more customers. The most important thing is to stay positive and the next sale will come through the door. I am a seasonal business and have started doing a little website work on the side hey it pays the bills and sharpens my skill for my own web sites I have just swapped over to the divi and going through the learning cure 🙂

  15. What an inspiring post Joe,
    Indeed, this thing called fear is very dangerous and it has really caused so many people lots of harm.

    We’re always afraid of the fear of the unknown and it kills. As human, its normal to be afraid sometimes but it becomes bad when it becomes a dominating part of you.

    The best thing is to always do what we are afraid of doing and fear will certainly die off. Do you want to write? go on and write not minding what people will say.

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Great post! I’ve been suffering a bit of freelance-related anxiety of late. I’ve been running my business for four years, have never had to source a single client (they’ve just kept coming to me), and I manage to make a halfway decent amount of money. Lately for me, it’s been the negative self-talk, and imagined client responses to what I produce. I sit there designing, and all the while I’m thinking, “they’re going to hate this!” I don’t know where these negative thoughts are coming from, but they’re sure as hell wreaking havoc! I’m now trying to counter every negative thought with a positive one, and things are slowly getting back on track.

    Thanks for the inspiring post. 🙂

  17. Great post Joe, thanks a lot.

  18. Great post!

    Although I have been running my own digital marketing business for almost six months,and fortunately I have had clients from day one, I can still relate to most of these… it always amazes me that in this somewhat insular, freelance world, so many of us are going through exactly the same thing.

    Thanks Joe 🙂

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