You don’t feel prepared for this.
School taught you to sit quietly, memorize information, and spit it out during exams.
That was fine for becoming an employee. You just swapped desks for cubicles, textbooks for company policies, and schoolyard crushes for HR nightmares.
But now that you’re freelancing, hanging on to an employee mindset could sabotage your success.
It’s time to break through this mental barrier once and for all.
It’s time to tap into your full potential and write your own freelance blogging success story.
Why an employee mindset limits your freelance success
The employee mindset works well for traditional jobs where people expect you to go along with the program and not test the waters. But it can linger when you transition into freelance blogging.
That’s when it becomes a liability.
You’re playing a different game now. There aren’t systems or company policies to follow. You call all the shots. It’s up to you to create your own success, which can be exciting and scary at the same time.
So, you need a new mental map — an entrepreneurial mindset — to navigate this alien landscape. Working hard is a given, but it isn’t enough. You need to align your mental game with your efforts for your business to really take off.
Not actively developing an entrepreneurial mindset limits your potential. It’s like trying to drive a Ferrari that’s stuck in second gear. No matter how hard you press the gas pedal, you won’t be able to go any faster until you shift.
Train yourself to act and think like an entrepreneur
Maybe you think you don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in your body.
You’re reading this blog, so that probably isn’t true. And a natural inclination towards entrepreneurship doesn’t matter as much as you might think.
No matter what your situation, you can train yourself to become more entrepreneurial. Even if you’ve worked as an employee for decades. Even if you never had a lemonade stand as a kid.
But how do you do it?
A lot of self-help books urge you to “think like an entrepreneur,” but that’s way too abstract to be useful.
There’s a more practical way to change your mindset. By focusing on these 5 key entrepreneurial behaviors and building new habits, you can develop a new mindset to match.
1. Validate post ideas before putting them into action
As an employee, you probably didn’t spend much time worrying about “improving workflow” or becoming more efficient. Someone showed you how things worked, and you didn’t rock the boat. The paychecks kept coming either way, so what was the point?
Entrepreneurs are different. They aren’t afraid to do a little tweaking and testing to help them make the most of every opportunity. Limited time and resources make them laser-focused on efficiency and results.
As a freelance blogger, time is your most precious resource. Using it well helps you make more money with your sanity intact. But that resourcefulness shouldn’t stop with you.
Entrepreneurial bloggers help their clients make the most of limited resources too. Instead of just writing the post you want to write, you could check out your client’s (and their competitors’) websites to see which topics and angles resonate with their readers. You could also read comments on your client’s blog for new post ideas.
Marcus Sheridan recommends creating content that answers questions people are already asking. A single post he wrote about the price of fiberglass pools has brought in over $1.7 million for his pool installation business. Imagine doing something like this for one of your clients!
Validating content ideas first helps make every post count. You can create incredible results for clients within their limited budgets, which leads to more projects, referrals, and higher rates.
2. Be a problem-solver first and a blogger second
Most employees come to work with a set of expectations about what they’re supposed to do. They make those expectations their gospel. Dwight Schrute from The Office aside, it’s rare to see someone volunteering to take on extra tasks or responsibilities.
Entrepreneurs don’t get caught up with job descriptions. They see themselves as problem solvers, and they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. No task is off-limits as long as completing it moves them closer to their goals.
Clients hire you to “write blog posts.” But why are they doing that? What are their deeper problems that drove them to hire you?
Entrepreneurial freelance bloggers figure out the answers to these questions. They do everything they can (within reason) to help clients solve their problems. If you can’t figure out what your clients are struggling with, don’t be afraid to ask.
I’m not suggesting you become the client’s lapdog — it’s important to set boundaries. But you can find small ways to better help clients solve their problems. This could be as simple as engaging readers in the comments sections of your posts, picking a keyword and doing basic SEO without being asked, or suggesting post ideas whenever you spot an opportunity.
I did this recently with one of my clients. I was doing some research on his company’s website for some content he hired me to write. Something caught my eye: his email opt-in form wasn’t optimized to convert the most email subscribers. So I sent him a quick email with my suggestion.
He didn’t just appreciate the tip; he wrote back asking me to work on more projects!
Become a problem-solver first and a blogger second. Stay on the lookout for little ways to help clients fix their deeper issues, and you’ll always be in demand.
3. Use client feedback to improve your business
How good an employee were you?
Unless you worked in sales or had psychotic bosses who nitpicked about every detail, it’s hard to say. Performance reviews are usually just formalities. It’s hard to get useful insight into what you’re doing well and where you need to improve.
Entrepreneurs don’t need performance reviews to see how they’re doing. Their customers and bank accounts tell them everything they need to know. The best entrepreneurs focus on launching a minimum viable product, collecting feedback, and using it to improve. They understand they’ll have to change directions dozens of times before they find a winning formula.
Brian Clark started a little blog back in 2006 to teach bloggers how to write more compelling content. Now he’s the CEO of Copyblogger Media, a multi-million dollar software company. He never anticipated being able to sell software. But he built an audience, listening to their feedback, and found a way to give them the software they wanted.
As a freelance blogger, you can adjust the course of your business too. You don’t need to make my mistake. I wasted months — time I could’ve been learning through experience — trying to figure everything out in my head before I convinced myself to dive in.
Nothing beats getting started. Choose a niche, choose your rates, but choose something. Real-world experience gives you insights you can’t get anywhere else. And you can use those insights to change directions and improve your business over time.
4. Take responsibility for your success (and inevitable mistakes)
How many employees are willing to take the blame when they screw up?
Enron? WorldCom? (Bueller? Bueller?)
Even in small businesses, employees aren’t exactly eager to ‘fess up when they do something wrong. It’s too easy to pass the blame off on someone else, and no one wants to risk getting fired.
You don’t get that option as a freelance blogger. Trying to pin mistakes on external events, or even your clients themselves, is a recipe for disaster. It’s as silly as an entrepreneur trying to blame his or her customers for not liking a product.
Your reputation can be your most powerful testimonial. It leads to referrals, opportunities to work with dream clients, and higher rates. But only if you shape it correctly.
It’s all in your hands. Will you treat freelance blogging as a hobby, or will you act like a true professional?
Meet your deadlines. Doing that — and accepting responsibility when you can’t deliver — will separate you from 90% of your competitors. You don’t have to write like Stephen King to get a full book of blogging clients, but you need to be reliable.
Being a professional also means being willing to make tough decisions. Turning down clients where you’d be a bad fit — even if you need the money — is tough, but it’s the right thing to do. Professionals also aren’t afraid to fire problem clients either. Your integrity will carry you far in an online space full of flakes and scammers.
5. Invest in yourself by learning something new
Remember employee training?
You probably read manuals, did paperwork, and watched a few videos. Then it was time to get to work. It didn’t take long to fall into a routine. You got better at your job with experience, but you probably weren’t learning a ton of new things every day.
Entrepreneurs don’t work that way. They’re constantly learning and staying on top of industry trends. Entrepreneurs understand that hard work alone isn’t enough. It’s gaps in knowledge that separate them from reaching the next level of success.
Being a successful freelance blogger demands you stay on top of blogging, SEO, social media, writing, and much more. Blogging authority Jon Morrow sets aside time every day to read books, blogs, and listen to podcasts. He invests heavily in himself and his learning. It pays off in great content and massive success.
You are your own most important client. Investing in yourself gives you inspiration, new ideas to grow your business, and fresh angles on well-worn content topics. It helps you serve your clients better than anyone else, which keeps your book of business full and justifies premium rates.
Unleash your new mindset for massive freelance blogging success
Being a successful freelance blogger takes commitment and buckets of elbow grease.
But it also takes a new mindset.
Breaking free of the employee mindset takes action, but it pays off. You’ll innovate and serve your clients better than your competitors. You’ll get more high-quality clients happy to pay premium rates, and the referrals will start pouring in.
Combine that new mindset with hard work, and you’re on the fast track to freelance blogging success.
It’s time to let your inner entrepreneur come out to play.