I once had a client who was reluctant to work with me because he’d previously worked with a developer on Upwork and caught that freelancer watching porn when he was supposed to be working and tracking time for the client.
I’ve had clients whose freelancers took their money and never delivered on the project. I’ve had clients who’ve worked with different developers for up to two years to try and get their site built, paying thousands of dollars, and still had nothing to show for it.
I could go on and on with the horror stories I’ve heard from clients.
And to be honest with you I have zero respect or sympathy for freelancers who do this kind of thing. I’ve even had some contact me and ask me for my advice on their career. And my advice is always the same: quit being a dirtbag.
They give the rest of us a bad name and they make it 10 times harder for us to work with our clients. Because those clients often come in jaded and skeptical and much more difficult to work with.
They’re like the ANTIFA thugs, looting and rioting, ruining it for all the legitimate protestors doing it peacefully.
But I’ll assume that’s not you.
(If it is, quit being a dirtbag!)
But there’s two big lessons that I want you to draw from all of this.
The first is that this is some of your competition. And I say that because I see a lot of freelancers who tend to overthink what it takes to be successful as a freelancer. They get caught up in freelancing sites or fancy marketing or social media or any of the hot new trends that come up that, while important and useful, can also distract you from the thing that matters most to your long-term success.
And that is your character.
How you treat people.
If you’re honest, trustworthy and reliable.
The sad truth of our industry is there’s a lot of freelancers out there who simply are not. That IS a bad thing but it’s also a good thing from a competitive sense. Because if you’re NOT a dirtbag, you already have an advantage.
A bigger advantage than you might think or realize.
So, take solace in that.
Know that once you get going, clients will see you for who you are, see your quality character, they’ll appreciate it, they’ll recognize that it’s rare and they’ll want to work with you again and again and again and again. And whenever someone asks them who they recommend, your name will be the first out of their mouth.
THAT is how you win the long game.
There’s no other magic secret.
No fancy marketing trick.
No social media hack.
Be a good person. Do right by people. It really IS that simple.
The second lesson here, though, affects that “getting going” part. It’s a realization you must have in order to truly understand what it takes to get a client to hire you. And, when you have this epiphany, it becomes crystal clear what you need to do in order to sell yourself.
Then, suddenly, all of your marketing, all of your social media, all of your networking — everything that you’re doing to put yourself out there and try and get clients — takes on a whole new tone and the results you’re getting improve drastically.
Because you understand where your clients are coming from.
What their biggest fear is.
And what you need to do to alleviate that fear, so they’ll hire you.
And that, put bluntly, is the fear of getting screwed.
They’re jaded. They’ve likely already been screwed over at least once. They’ve had money essentially stolen from them.
Now imagine if that had happened to you. Would you be a little reluctant? Would you be a little skeptical? Would you ask annoying questions and not care?
You know darn well you would.
So, you have to understand that mindset when you sit down to write an Upwork profile or build out a services page on your website or talk with someone at a networking event. You have to recognize that they’ve likely already been hurt.
They’re like a dog who’s been abused.
If you just walk up and start petting it, you’re likely going to get bit. Instead you have to take some time to earn its trust. To show it that you’re not like those other people that have hurt it. But once you DO that AND you back it up with your actions, that dog, those clients will be loyal to you forever.
Again, THAT is the big magic secret.
And it’s also why so many new freelancers struggle to have success on sites like Upwork or Freelancer or Fiverr or even just going out on their own, building their own website or networking etc.
Because they fail to recognize most clients are wounded.
And, they assume trust is easy and automatic.
And you can’t.
You have to CREATE trust.
Now, I know this to be true so wholeheartedly — it’s been shown to me so many times in my 15 years as a freelancer — that I sneakily inject into everything I teach. It’s like the plate of broccoli, covered in melted cheese, that I sneak into your dinner between the juicy steak and the luscious dessert.
In particular, in my Upwork course, in lesson 14 and lesson 21… I reveal what I call the trust threshold and how to build rapport with your clients to get them over that threshold — via email, Upwork messenger or whatever platform you use. And get them to trust you in an environment where we don’t see each other face-to-face and trust is much more difficult to create.
I show you all the things that I’ve learned in my 15 years as a freelancer, freelancing primarily online, to build that trust and get hired, create loyalty and create a lifetime client. There’s a reason my main client has been with me for over 10 years now.
And I show you what I do in those lessons.
In any case, you can take the course for free over on Skillshare. I created a video that explains the offer and how to get free access to all my courses and you can simply head to this link to watch the video and get free access: https://johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare