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Overcome the Mental Barriers to Maximizing Your Freelance Income

On May 6, 1954, Englishman Roger Bannister did something everyone knew was impossible: He ran a sub-four-minute mile with a time of 3:59.4. In 2005, Forbes named the feat, “The Greatest Athletic Achievement of the 20th century.”

What’s really interesting is that this new record—this supposedly impossible achievement—was broken just 46 days later. And, of course, dozens of times since, leading to the current mark of 3:43.13, set by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999.


A Psychological Barrier

What’s clear is that the original 4-minute barrier was a psychological one—aided by doctors’ assertions that a runner’s heart would burst if they attempted it. Yet, Bannister rejected that, and as soon as he broke it, many others followed suit.

So many barriers are of our own creation. And in the freelancing world, one of the biggest barriers is money — or more specifically, how much income is possible.

I swapped a few emails recently with an unusually successful freelance writer
who made over $200K last year (and did it without being a workaholic). In one note, he shared a juicy job that netted him over $400 an hour. In another was this:

“I’m having to say no to low-dollar jobs I just don’t have time for. So many people want $200 blogs. That’s actually a decent rate for a short blog that takes 1.5 hours or so, but it takes too many of them to add up to real money.”

So, here’s someone saying that jobs paying an average of $133 an hour aren’t worth his time. I’m not suggesting we all reject gigs paying $133 an hour, but rather, I’m trying to underscore the connection between someone’s beliefs and the results he gets.

I’ve done pretty well as a freelancer because I never cut my teeth on crappy writing wages. I started cold in 1994, found out the “going rate” was $50/hour for commercial writing, and so that became my belief. I charged that right out of the
gate—and got it.


What’s Between Your Ears? 

It’s not cheap clients, a “tough economy” or other low-balling freelancers standing in the way of you enjoying a good freelance income. It’s what between your own ears. Cliché? Maybe. Truth? Absolutely.

You want to average $150 an hour? Then, reject gigs that’ll only net you $100 an hour. Want to average $100 an hour? Reject ones paying $75 an hour. And so on.

Take a close look at what you believe about what’s possible income-wise. Or in other words, what’s your “pre-1954-four-minute-mile” barrier? I’ll bet it’s a lot higher than you think!


Authored by Peter Bowerman
Veteran commercial freelancer and business coach Peter Bowerman, is the author of the award-winning Well-Fed Writer series—how-to standards on the subject of freelancing for businesses. Subscribe to his ezine and blog at www.wellfedwriter.com.