I’m a relatively easy-going person and it usually takes a bit to get me rattled, but I’ve been in a bit of a mood these past few weeks. I’ve been suffering from a case of freelancing disappointment — I got stiffed for the first time. The money that I lost wasn’t going to break me, and the time wasted writing a few blog posts for free wasn’t too huge of a chunk, but the anger and feeling of stupidity from being ripped off for the first time really got me down. Hell, I had just wrote a blog post about how I don’t ask for a deposit and never had any issues because of it — and then boom! Me and my big mouth!
It was kind of surprising how much this upset me. I started doubting myself — maybe I wasn’t such a good judge of people. What if this happens again? What if it starts happening a lot? Is the way I handle new clients wrong? Is the way I handle all clients wrong? Should I really be giving advice to others when clearly I’m doing something wrong? This was wreaking havoc on my self-esteem. One thing’s for certain, I needed to find a way to get over this and get back on track, attitude wise.
5 Steps for Moving On After A Freelancing Disappointment
- Accept your emotions — but keep them in context. Bad things happen — that’s going to have an effect. There’s nothing wrong with having negative emotions when you have a setback, but keep those emotions tied to the actual experience. For me, this meant acknowledging that I have a right to be angry about getting stiffed. I have a right to be unsure of whether or not I should get a deposit from new clients. I do not, however, have a right to feel stupid or doubt my worth as a freelancer. The experience had nothing to do with my intelligence or abilities as a writer.
- Realize that you’re not alone. Freelancing is not new. Neither are the problems that freelancers face. Chances are almost certain that any disappointment you or I encounter has already been experienced by someone else. And if someone else can bounce back, so can you and I.
- Remember the good that has happened. It may be hard to think of something good when you’re reeling from a setback, but this is exactly when you need to. And if you have a good experience that refutes the negative one, that’s an immediate boost to the psyche.
- Think about what you can learn from your setback. There’s always a lesson to be learned from every experience. Turning a negative experience into a learning experience can bring you a new feeling of strength. Personally, I am rethinking how I handle certain clients, in regard to having a contract and/or deposit.
- Get back to work! There’s nothing better to help you get over a disappointment than proving to yourself that one bad experience is not the norm. And what better way to do that than creating new, positive freelancing experiences!
No one gets through life without some disappointment — whether it be in your career or personal life. And while freelancing disappointment — whether caused by getting stiffed, harsh criticism, or losing a client — can cause feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, following these five steps can help you to move through those negative feelings and get back on track.