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Creating A Freelancer Niche That Will Actually Fulfil You

You’ve finally made the brave decision to create the life of your dreams.

The life of a freelancer.

No more commuting, stiff work attire, or idle office gossip.

Now you get to create your own schedule, work only with the clients you like, and carve out a life you’re proud of.

Only…

You’re still staying awake at night.

You’re not getting the Sunday night dread of the nine to five, but there’s another kind of pressure slowly eating away at you.

It’s the pressure of not knowing what niche to pick to finally get your freelance career moving in the right direction.

Sure, you’ve had a few ideas, but nothing you’ve committed to.

Maybe you’ve even had a few clients, but something didn’t seem right.

And you’re worried that if you don’t have some kind of direction, a path to follow to make your freelancing career a success, then you’ll succumb to a freelancer’s worst nightmare.

Failure.

Sound familiar?

Tune out excessive expert advice

This likely isn’t the first article you’ve read about choosing a freelancer niche.

This is probably one of a long list of posts, videos, downloadables, and webinars that supposedly help you to choose your calling. Or your passion. Or the best niche to make the most profit.

But that’s the issue.

Often, struggling freelancers feel they have to choose between either finding their passion and having no idea how to translate that into real earning potential, or choosing a ‘highly profitable’ niche that they couldn’t care less about.

Listening to what some expert or guru tells you to do because it worked for them, is really only going to work with a handful of freelancers.

We’re all unique, with our own mix of experience, personality, and skills.

Choosing a niche is not a one-size-fits-all activity.

The thing is, only you really know what you enjoy doing and where your strengths lie.

Pitfalls of the wrong niche (or no niche at all)

For a new or struggling freelancer, there’s a risk of choosing the wrong niche.

Not having hands-on experience in the niche you’ve picked is a common reason, but also relying on someone else to tell you what they should pick because it worked for them is another.

If you choose the wrong niche, you feel restricted.

You feel unmotivated to look for clients or complete projects.

You’re frustrated that your work isn’t giving you the satisfaction you wanted.

Navigating the wrong niche makes you wonder whether freelancing is for you. Did you make the right decision to quit your day job?

The stress of being in the wrong niche mounts up, so you decide that you don’t need a niche. You can choose any project in any industry from any client, and maybe it’ll all work itself out.

A path to success will carve itself, right?

Whilst a niche shouldn’t make you feel confined to a tiny number of opportunities, having no niche can give you too many.

Being a generalist is okay, but shaping the right niche for you will click everything into place.

You’ll get out of bed energised for your working day ahead.

You’ll be excited to work with your clients and proud of the work you deliver.

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to stop struggling and finally find the niche that works for you.

You’ll need a pen and paper, or your favourite note-taking app for this next bit!

Discover what you’re good at

You can’t choose a niche unless you know what you’re good at.

Skills that you’re even remotely good at can be learned and improved upon.

Get yourself a pen and paper, and start writing down the skills you know you’re good at. Here are some examples:

  • juggling lots of daily tasks
  • talking on the phone
  • writing convincing copy
  • designing amazing social media graphics
  • Knowing spreadsheets inside and out
  • Making people feel good about themselves

Revisit old clients or workplaces

Make a list of all the places you may have worked in the past, as an employee, intern, volunteer, or freelancer.

As an example:

  • Intern at a publisher
  • Insurance account manager at a business insurance firm
  • Goodwill store volunteer
  • Freelance voice artist for a gift card company

Past workplaces and clients give you valuable experience working in different sized teams and hierarchies.

It helps to jot down the industry the company was in, too, as these can hint at niches you may not have considered.

Explore your passions

While you shouldn’t always focus on following your passion as your sole motivation as a freelancer, it’s also vital you enjoy what you do!

What hobbies do you lose yourself in? Are you passionate about the environment, music, love, or politics?

Take note of all the things in life that you don’t necessarily associate with work, but that you absolutely love to be involved in.

Figure out your personality type

Are you an extravert who loves to energise other people? Or are you an introvert, who prefers focusing quietly on their own? Maybe you’re even somewhere in between.

The Myers Briggs test fairly accurately helps you discover personality traits about yourself that determine how your relationships, work, friendships, lifestyle, and other areas affect you (and I’m kind of obsessed with how eerily accurate they are).

It’s a useful tool in helping you figure out what kind of work suits you, and may uncover something new that you hadn’t considered before.

I love 16personalities because it’s easy to complete and gives you a ton of useful information.

Did your test bring back results that made sense? Some that didn’t?

What about job suggestions? Circle the ones that really speak to you (or write them down).

Turn to friends and family

You know yourself better than anyone, but it’s always good to get a second opinion!

Lean on your friends and family — the people you spend the most time with — for advice on what they know you to be amazing at.

Chances are, they can see some things in you that you can’t, and help reveal your strengths and quirks!

You guessed it…. Write them down!

Go with your gut

It’s all very well writing lists of potential skills and experience, but how do you actually feel with certain types of work?

It’s time to go through the list you’ve made of skills you ace, work experience, your passions, your personality-type job suggestions, and the family and friends quirks.

Pay attention to that inner gut feeling as you think of what the skills or experience involves.

We often rely too much on external cues telling us what we should and shouldn’t enjoy, so for now, I want you to listen to your reactions.

For example:

On my list of things I’m good at, I have ‘diffusing angry customers’. I did it for years in customer support roles and I’m pretty good at it.

But when I think about the prospect of doing this, I actually feel my stomach tighten and an ‘inner cringe’ happening.

Before my logical brain kicks in and tells me that, if I’m good at it, I should pursue it, I’ve already had an involuntary shudder at the thought!

The fact is, I hate customer-facing roles now. I avoid confrontation like the plague, and therefore it’s not something I would actively seek out as a job now.

See what I mean? Here’s another example:

When I design layouts for small graphics like Facebook posts, I lose track of time and find myself going into a ‘flow state’.

I love combining just the right colours, shapes, and text, and writing the content, and it never feels like a chore to me.

Inside, I feel excited about it! Sure, not ‘buying my own private library’ kind of excitement, but it’s a little jolt of joy that’s noticeable!

Circle or highlight the ones that make you feel great.

However — don’t cross out the negative ones just yet.

Connect the dots

By now, you should have a long, messy list of things you love, things you hate, and a load of in-betweeny bits.

Good!

Now here’s the most difficult part.

This bit is really important, but it’s the part that’ll take the most time and probably a few goes to get something that makes sense.

The things that are worth having are never easy though, are they?

The big job now is to connect all of these things together, to form a kind of custom niche that works for you, based on your experience, skills, loves, and personality traits.

It’s not always obvious, either, but bear with me.

An interesting place to start is with your passions. You know, those things that you dream about doing as a career!

As these can often seem like a ‘pipe dream’, they might seem, at first glance, as unobtainable goals.

But hold on — there’s a way for you to realistically turn your passions into a freelancing career, without heartache and without going hungry.

Let’s take music as a common example. Say you live and breath music — your day isn’t the same without blasting the cobwebs off the walls with some of your favourite power metal. You never miss a local concert if you can help it, and your wardrobe is basically 90% band tees.

Does it mean you have to be the next hotshot lead guitarist?

Of course not!

Loving music doesn’t mean that you have to become a musician.

Let’s look at your list again — this time, focusing on what you’re good at.

Are you good at social media marketing? You could help grow and maintain a band’s Facebook page.

A whizz at designing? Have you thought about creating designs for band merchandise?

Did you once work at the local theatre? Use the know-how of working with acts to help them find new events to perform at.

Connecting your passions with your other realistic skills and experience can be a fantastic and very real way to create a career around something you love, without struggling to make it work by going the direct route that everybody else takes.

It makes it feel like less of a leap of faith too — you aren’t making any unknown decisions, because you’re creating a new path from trusted and tried skills you already have.

It’s all about using what you know and transforming it into something actionable and achievable.

Allow things to evolve

Remember, freelancing — like any career choice — evolves.

I’m not doing what I was when I first started freelancing nearly ten years ago!

But choosing a solid starting point will help you figure out more of what you love to do and less of what you hate.

Because when all is said and done, it’s the doing that makes the real difference to your success.

This method of helping you finally realise where to start is just that — where to start.

Only you can determine how your freelancer career unfolds.

But now you’re equipped with the knowledge and the power to actually do something about your fear of staying stuck.

Those sleepless nights can instead become restful ones, with something exciting and rewarding to wake up to in the morning.

Sure, it won’t happen overnight.

Take your time with it. Don’t force things.

But when you finally figure out what path you want to take, you’ll feel it in your gut and in your heart.

You’ll have finally made the brave decision to create the life of your dreams.

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How Freelancers Can Fight Impostor Syndrome

Trying to prove yourself in an online world filled with thousands of competitors is hard.

It seems everyone you encounter on social media these days is boasting about their latest award win, how they earned five figures last month, or how they just can’t keep up with demand from clients bashing down their door (and it’s really annoying).

It can feel very overwhelming, to tell you the truth, to be bombarded with everyone else’s success.

If freelancers like you and I pay attention to all that boasting for too long, we can get that creeping sensation that we’re not good enough.

That feeling of not being good enough, impostor syndrome, is all too common among freelancers trying to make their mark.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Feeling like you’re a fraud of some kind.

Perceiving any kind of success you achieve is falsely given, or not deserved.

Feeling like you don’t belong.

Wondering how on Earth your clients haven’t figured out ‘the truth’ about your lack of knowledge yet.

Believing that it’s only a matter of time before you’re rumbled and everyone realises what a big fat failure you are.

Impostor syndrome is so damaging.

Do you recognise this harmful pattern of thinking in your own internal monologue?

Stop it right now.

Seriously.

Unless you’re actually lying about your experience and just winging it (you do you, but I don’t recommend or approve of it) then you are not a fraud.

Repeat: You. Are. Not. A. Fraud.

So stop acting like one (I know it’s not that easy of course, but keep reading).

Listen:

All of us trying to make it as a successful freelancer have moments of self-doubt. During my nine year career as a self-employed person, I have had too many of those moments to count. Moments that have sometimes left me eating a whole family bar of Galaxy between sobs.

But it’s vital that you don’t make it a bad habit.

It’s healthy to challenge yourself at times, but what isn’t healthy for your career or your sanity is being in a constant state of self-hate and low confidence.

You deserve more than that.

Why is Impostor Syndrome harmful to freelancers?

Simply put, if you don’t think your skills, knowledge, and effort are worth anything, why the hell are potential clients going to bother working with you?

Sounds harsh, but in this competitive online world, clients aren’t there to feel sorry for you, or reassure you of your expertise.

Actually, it’s the other way around.

You need to prove to clients why you’re the best choice.

So feeling like a fraud will creep into the way you act, and the way you present yourself.

And if you start showing self-doubt to people who might benefit from your skills, they probably won’t believe in you.

If they don’t believe in you, they’ll probably just find the next freelancer who they feel confident about.

See what I’m saying?

If you don’t start believing that you are worthy of success, you will sabotage any opportunities that come your way.

And that breaks my heart, to be honest, as so many talented people who could create something amazing end up quitting because of their own bad thoughts.

Maybe you have even thought of quitting the dream of being a freelancer — whether you’re toying with the idea of a self-employed life or you’ve been doing it for ten years.

I’ve been there.

But you can stop doing it, with practice, and go on to be who you want and do what you want.

You’re an adult — why shouldn’t you have the life you want?

How to Stop Impostor Syndrome

Prove it to yourself

Next time you hear that ugly voice in your mind singing the hundredth verse of ‘I’m Not Good Enough (Why Should I Bother)’, take a step back and actually assess if what you’re saying is true (hint: it probably isn’t).

We’re often overly harsh to ourselves about what we think we do and don’t deserve, like bagging a dream client or being able to deliver results on a challenging project.

What you need to do here is actually stop and LOOK at your achievements.

Assess the situation that you’re trying to make excuses about, and ask yourself whether it’s actually true or not.

But you have to base the answers on logic and proof, not your emotions.

For example:

Did you win a project that you really wanted? Well done! It’s more likely that you won over the other candidates with your portfolio, the results from a trial project you did with the client, or that your work ethic fits their business. It’s less likely that ‘they hired you by mistake’, ‘it was a fluke’, or ‘you explained your skills wrongly’.

Stop overthinking it

When you’re in that state of denying yourself any happiness or success, it could be that you’re spending so much time on focusing on being successful (whatever that means) than actually going out and achieving things that make you happy.

Freelancers are often overworked without realising it, too — although our nine-to-five-working brethren think we sit around in our pants eating cereal out of the box and watching Stranger Things, freelancers find it much more difficult to separate work from home life, and thus work longer hours.

This blur of free time and work time can cause you mental strain; which can rear its head as self-doubt.

Try setting yourself boundaries so your life is more balanced and you may find you start to have a brighter outlook on your freelancing career.

Stop comparing yourself

Listen:

You know that all the boasting we were talking about earlier is either:

A) Used to sell something (I earn £18k a day! Learn how by buying my course for £1,234!);

or B) A front to make that person feel better about themselves

It’s true!

Six-figure incomes, awards, or massive social media followings don’t tell the whole story of a person’s success. You don’t know what that person is going through, what they’ve had to sacrifice, or even if it actually makes them happy. Or if it would make YOU happy if you had what they had.

So stop comparing yourself to other people. Instead, why not compare yourself to YOURSELF?

Set small goals that you can help measure your own success, whatever that means for you.

Minimise social media

Social media is here to stay but it’s not always good for us.

Spending too much time scrolling our news feeds or wasting time figuring out that ‘one, secret way’ social media will help transform our entire business is only making us more paranoid that we’re not doing it ‘right’.

I understand that social media is often a business tool to help us seek new clients and to connect with like-minded people, but instead of being glued to Twitter when you should be working, set aside specific times to do specific social media tasks, and then GET OFF.

Spend the time you’d usually waste doing something that fulfills you, instead.

Be real

I get it; when you’re on a journey to figuring out what you want to ‘be when you grow up’ (if growing up means getting the hell out of that soul-crushing job and into freelancing work you love) it can feel like a test of your personality and authenticity!

But trying to be something or someone you’re not will only worsen those feelings of inadequacy.

Why would you bother trying to act like someone else, when it’s only going to get boring really quickly?

Think about it:

Who would you rather work with?

Someone who isn’t sure of themselves, that says yes to things they wish they’d said no to? Nah, chances are you’ll see through them really quickly.

What about the person that stands up for what they believe in, aren’t afraid to make mistakes or call someone out on their bullshit, and are passionate about what they do?

The second person? Yep, thought so. Me too. People like that are a force of nature.

So be a real person. It’s okay to make mistakes and not get stuff right sometimes. Everyone on Earth has made a mistake because it’s what makes you a human being.

Being imperfect makes you more trustworthy, which is vital in the freelancing world.

Finally, just keep practicing this stuff. Even the most seemingly confident and self-assured freelancer gets struck down with the self-doubt bug from time to time.

And what do they do?

They stop paying attention to what everyone else is doing and get right back to it.

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How to Stop Feeling Stir Crazy As a Freelancer

Working and living in the same space can make you feel stir-crazy after a while.

Freelance life is pretty sweet, but that’s one of the struggles that’s an ongoing journey to improve. (still beats the daily commute, though).

As an introvert with solo pursuits like playing video games, writing, and crafting, I spend a lot of time at home — when I’m not out on my kick scooter, that is (yes I’m a cool kid) 🤓

Maybe that’s you, too!

Even if your idea of heaven is curling up under a blanket at your PC with a hot cup of tea (which, let’s face it, sounds pretty amazing), it’s not good for you if this is all you ever do. You’ll end up feeling fed up and irritated.

If you don’t feel relaxed in your workspace, you might think it’s because you hate working from home, or that the freelancing life isn’t for you.

Nuh-uh. That probably isn’t it.

When you’re a freelancer, working from home starts out feeling like you’re living the dream.

What’s this? I don’t have to dress up in office clothes? There’s no commute? What do you mean I don’t have to make idle chit chat with the manager about that ‘funny’ typo in that report, and fake laugh all the way back to my desk before eyerolling behind a ring binder?

Quickly, being alone and feeling chained to your desk becomes stale and it’s hard to conjure up the motivation to get anything done if you don’t change up your routine a bit.

As someone who has worked from home since 2011, and for the most part has been an indoorsy kind of gal since I fell in stinging nettles on an orienteering school trip, I’ve learned a few tricks to keeping feeling positive, motivated, and not totally sick of the same four walls.

Here are 5 simple tips to help shake up your work-from-home routine to stop feeling so stir-crazy!

Rearrange your rooms

You’d be really surprised how much of a difference this can make.

What you do to your room to change it around will depend on what furniture you have and what space you’ve got to work with but you can pretty much experiment with this no matter how big or small your place is.

Move your desk in front of a window. Get a plant to put next to your PC. Move the bookcase to that other wall!

Does your work overflow into the living space? Try separating these two spaces out if you can.

Even if you have to move things around every couple of months to keep things fresh, it’s worth it!

Do you procrastinate when it comes to organising and sorting through your things, what needs to be kept, filed or thrown away?

Would you rather wait for it to get worse and then spend an evening sorting it out?

Yeah, me too!

If you’re like me, bite the bullet; rock out to some Queen (or whatever you’re into) and plough through the stuff you’ve been putting off.

File the papers. Stack the books back on the shelf. Throw away the empty KitKat wrappers you’ve been stashing in the printer paper drawer (not me, I pinky swear).

When it’s tidy and organised, you’ll feel better.

Go for a walk

When you’re pissed off and getting a bit stir crazy from waking up, going to work and doing everything else you need to do but all within the same four walls, stop.

Get out of the house and go for a walk, even if it’s around the block or to the shop.

Even a ten-minute walk to break up your day can make a huge positive impact on your physical and mental health.

It’s like a fake commute, without being surrounded by people on the bus coughing onto the back of your neck.

Take a break from screens

If the weather’s looking horrendous or you simply can’t go for a quick walk, at least get away from your screens regularly.

And yes, that does count your smartphone as well as your laptop.

Get up, stretch your legs, go make a cup of tea.

Even these small rituals for a few minutes at a time can help you decompress and make you more productive.

Try looking out of the window for a few minutes. Readjusting your focus can help with stress as well.

Make the space yours

Decluttering and rearranging don’t automatically mean your house has to be boring and generic.

You also don’t have to spend loads of money buying cool stuff to make your home look more impressive.

The thing is:

If your home reflects your personality, you’ll want to spend more time there.

That’s why I hang my Doom, Last of Us, and Doctor Who posters. I litter my desk and shelves with Funko figures, kawaii plushies, and collectibles. I keep my guitars out for all to see (and occasionally knock over).

Display who you are instead of hiding it.

It costs nothing extra, but it makes you feel more at home.

Go and work somewhere else for a while

Sometimes, rearranging furniture and making cups of tea just doesn’t cut it.

Maybe you still feel fed-up and in a bad mood.

In this case: go somewhere else to work for a little while, so you look forward to coming home.

For example:

I went to my local library the other day to work from my Chromebook in peace. I live in a smallish town that doesn’t have cool things like co-working spaces (I don’t actually know if these are cool, but they sound it).

And it was heavenly.

Breaking up your usual routine by going somewhere different doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or uncomfortable, but can make all the difference.

Tell me in the comments: is feeling stir-crazy something that bothers you as a freelancer? What do you do to overcome it?