Why You Need to Stop Questioning Your Worth [Based on Shitty Client Feedback]
From: Client X (Who Came to You Begging to Take Up the Job After Seeing Your Social Media Posts)
Subject: You’re over-hyped and not worthy of serious work!
“Did you even read before you sent me the draft? It’s nothing close to what I had in mind when I hired you in the first place. You not only wasted my time but your own, too. You’re not worthy enough to be given any project in the future .”
How will you feel if you wake up to this email in your inbox?
Not happy, for sure. Especially, when the client ignored your repeated requests for giving clear briefs and directions.
In the end, you’re the one at fault.
All these years of hard work, questioned by a young client, who didn’t even bother to discuss anything before bashing you out over an email.
That’s like the ‘everyday tale’ for a freelancer. No matter how ‘big’ you get, there will always be one client (or a critic) who won’t like you. Or even if the client loves you, he’d make you follow-up numerous times before clearing your dues.
Naturally, you don’t feel you’ve done enough — else he/she would be quick to reciprocate the value you delivered.
But do you know something? It’s completely fine if some clients don’t realize your worth.
YOU ARE NOT ICE CREAM (OR A CUTE CAT ON INSTAGRAM) TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.
You’re a human — and humans don’t have a magic pill to make things work. Sometimes, things just don’t work out, despite the best effort.
When you’re a freelancer, you’ve got a lot of pressure on your mind to perform well, every single time. I get it!
If clients won’t like you, they won’t give you work and if work doesn’t flow, how will you pay your bills?
Let’s take a step back, first.
Did you forget why you left your corporate job in the first place? Because the work culture made you feel miserable and you weren’t appreciated enough!
Your life is not about making others happy. It’s more about feeling happy doing what you love, first of all.
If you’re not strong in your head (and one mail can make you question your worth), maybe freelancing is too bitter a pill for you to swallow as a whole.
Freelancers face the brunt of entrepreneurs, agencies, brokers, and young guys who don’t know what they’re doing, all the time.
Vague feedback from someone shouldn’t shake your belief in yourself.
If one client (or a peer) doesn’t believe in your work style, go back to the drawing board and see if you understand where they are coming from — what are their expectations, their psyche and needs.
If you’ve done your best and still you get bad feedback, write it off simply as a one-off incident where your vibes didn’t match.
No one’s perfect and you’re allowed to make mistakes. If a client points out, rectify those with a calm mind, but never, I repeat NEVER think that you’re not worthy. Rather, do the following:
- Self-questioning would pull you months back in your journey as a freelancer. Better find ways to channelize your ‘worth-calculation mechanism’ elsewhere than in feedbacks where the other party isn’t fully clear about his/her own goals.
- Your first step should be to ask questions from the client on the feedback. If he doesn’t bother to explain (or articulate the problems), don’t try to reason (or educate) aimlessly because the client isn’t prepared to listen. Cut your losses, apologise and protect yourself from hours of trouble. Learn to value your time.
- If something didn’t work out, maybe you’re not fit for the task. Learn the art of acceptance and move on to your next masterpiece in waiting. No point in wailing things that weren’t meant to be.
I know these sound vague, but the point I want to make is — you should know when to stop. Sometimes, you are not wrong (and you should accept that). Still, if you need more concrete tips to feel worthy, here are a few:
Three Ways to Feel Worthy as a Freelancer
- Work on a Side Project, ALWAYS
When you work on a project, a lot of things aren’t in your hand. Or I should say, you don’t have complete creative control. You’ve to adhere to guidelines, briefs and things beyond your control.
Let’s accept it. Not every client knows how to get work done from a freelancer.
This is the classic case of a project where you’d end up feeling miserable. Because the client isn’t clear about anything and wants you to run around, solving problems and extinguishing fires, without being properly equipped.
So, when a client isn’t prepared (or confident), there is no point in sweating about pleasing him/her. Clear the expectations from the beginning and stop chasing perfection where there’s no hope.
Rather, spend your time, effort and creative energies towards building something of your own. It can be something as simple as your own website, a newsletter, a regularly updated blog, or anything else, too.
Not only would you learn to see things from client’s perspective, but would be less bothered by clients who don’t understand their goals.
Also, you would get a bird’s eye view of building and growing something (with full control) which will help you to guide clueless clients (and vague projects) in a better way.
2. Never say yes to a work only for money
Let’s accept this — we’ve all done this classic mistake of chasing money while working as a freelancer.
But if you want to go upwards and onwards, only take up projects where your expertise, skill and knowledge can really add value to the client’s goals.
Sometimes, client isn’t clear about goals. Educate him why it’s important and only sign the dotted line if you guys are on the same page from the first meeting.
Else, you’d end up being disappointed in the end because the client will keep jumping from one thing to another (leaving you drained out of energy) and questioning you in the process.
3. Have a life goal or purpose (except work goals)
I get it — work is life for you! You can’t imagine your life without your clients. But trust me, this ideology won’t take you far. Don’t be fooled by ‘pumped up’ motivational gurus online who praise hustlers (and grunt workers) all the time.
Instead, understand that work is a part of your life and not the other way round. Create life goals, understand your purpose and see work (and money) only as a medium to achieve those goals. Trust me, you’ll stay more satisfied.
No one would be able to shake your faith in your goals, then. Because you’ll then know, you can knock other doors reach your goal, if this doesn’t work out.
Yes, we all love freelancing! But it can get pretty overwhelming, too.
If you don’t believe in yourself, then others would question you for sure. Better be prepared to dodge those bullets by building your own shield. Because there isn’t anyone braver than you, who took the plunge of ditching the conventional route in favor of something bold.
You’re worth everything in the world (even when you just received a shitty comment on your latest blog or email from a client).
Never let anything shake your belief. Now, go help the business world do some good with your skill!
All the best.