How do you know if you’ll succeed as a freelancer?

I’ll give you the same answer my instructors gave me: “You don’t know.”

No one knows if they will succeed or not. But one thing everyone does know is that you will not succeed if you do not get after it. 

Waiting until you know you will succeed to start your freelance career, to pursue that one big project, to add a new service, or to reinvent yourself, is wasted time.

Get moving, or nothing will happen.

Doing these 5 things will help you succeed.

It takes more than talent and desire to be successful at anything. They are necessary, but how many talented people don’t make anything of it because they don’t start and keep moving? Neither talent nor fear will motivate. We have to decide to do something and then do it.

Here are 5 things you can do to help create your success:

1. Set specific, achievable goals. Goals give you direction and are the stepping stones leading to your success. You cannot be successful at something until you first decide what that something is and then decided how you will get there. Write down your goals and keep them close by.

2. Work on your goals. Setting them is the first step. The next is to move forward on them task-by-task and item-by-item. Schedule time DAILY for goal-related actions, and then follow through. Daily effort means you are consistently building momentum.

I spend the first hour of my mornings reading, journaling and planning my day. I look at my larger goals at the end of each week, identify my next steps that will move me forward and add them to my schedule for the upcoming week.

3. Learn from people who are already successful doing what you want to do. What do they offer? How does it benefit their customers and clients? How do they promote their work? What is the quality of their work? Do some investigating by looking at web sites and reading blogs, by networking, by taking classes, and by attending seminars and webinars.

4. Ask someone to hold you accountable. This can be a trusted family member, friend, colleague, or mentor. Share your goals with them and allow them to check in with you at regular intervals, preferably once a week. Listen to their feedback and allow them to encourage you.

5.  Celebrate each small step and victory. Simply making one small decision and getting it done is enough of an achievement to propel yourself forward. 

Success is a journey — like a road trip. It’s a series of small steps, one after the other.

Along the way, you’ll hit milestones. When you complete a project or achieve a goal, celebrate it!


Succeeding at anything is the result of combining practice and principle.

What is success?

Per the dictionary, success is simply accomplishing something that you set out to do.

Ongoing success is accomplished by setting a variety of goals over time, some concurrent, some successive.

To achieve goals, one has to exert focus and discipline.

You define your own success.

Although you might be successful today, that does not mean you’ll be successful tomorrow.

Keep going. Keep your eyes on the road ahead. Set new goals.

Continue developing skills and gaining insight. How you adapt to changes in culture, technology, the economy and business, as well as how you maintain your habits and values determines your results.

No matter how many advisors you have, ultimately, you’re responsible for your personal and business success.

How do you create success?

To achieve anything, you’ll need to work on a combination of practice and principle.

To stay inspired to create and also grow your income, you’ll need deliberate focus and action. Remember, it’s a journey, not a short hop around the corner. You must be consistent and stay with it.

I’ve implemented three practices that have helped me sustain my work creatively:

Daily quiet time. I begin each day with a mug of hot coffee, my journal, sketchbook and inspirational reading. I read, reflect, write and draw. This practice allows me to begin the day quietly and provides a means of problem-solving and planning from a big-picture point of view. It’s a way of reading the road map before I get in the car and start the engine.

Planning. I’m a designer. So I design my weeks and my days. I calendar deadlines and divide projects into chunks which I spread out over the days and weeks leading up to a deadline. This allows me to manage several projects concurrently, take care of business, accomplish my marketing and networking, and also maintain family and personal time. Having designed a day, I take a few minutes at the end of it to evaluate what I did and how I did. I find that I need a roadmap for each day – a to-do list or pre-determined tactics that will remind me to keep focused on what needs to be accomplished, by when, and why. I’ve devised my own system by selecting tactics from others and blending them.

Rest. Whether several weeks or half a day in duration, time off provides perspective. I don’t take a lot of vacations, but I frequently engage in times of rest and reflection — sabbaticals.

Sometimes my sabbatical is simply leaving the studio and going elsewhere to write, read or draw for an afternoon. Being creatively “on call” is hard work, and a different environment helps to reset and refresh.

These little sabbaticals — resting from my work — prevent burnout.

I have 3 primary principles that guide me:

Creativity. Every person is creative. We’re not all creative in the same way. Being creative in a particular area shows up as talent.

Talent is useless unless it’s developed. It’s a starting point, and it’s the raw material in us that can be honed for great things.

I need to keep learning, reinventing and developing my talent. So do you.

Productivity. All work is honorable. Work produces something. Work is how we help others.

Most of us, I think, would work and produce something even if we weren’t getting paid for it.

Compensated or not, there’s a satisfaction in making an effort to create or help, and a grand sense of accomplishment when we succeed in doing that.

Service. Design and illustration – related but different disciplines – are service professions. Rather than facilitating self-expression (that’s what fine art does), they are both used to enable others to meet their goals.

Design fulfills needs. Illustration explains and attracts. So I serve my clients in creating quality design and illustration solutions that help them accomplish their marketing and communications efforts.

Are you thinking of your creative work in this way, or are you making it all about you? What mindset shifts do you need to make?

Links Included In This Episode

5 Secrets of Client Attraction premium resource by Alvalyn Lundgren

Win Without Pitching by Blair Enns

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