How to be a successful freelancer – my interview on The Freelancer School Podcast
I was invited to The Freelancer School Podcast to talk about successful freelancing.
We had an interesting conversation with Mike Volkin about the common pain points of (creative) freelancers and what’s keeping them from achieving their goals and dreams.
You can listen to the podcast here.
Or you can read the interview below.
Thanks again for joining me at Freelancer School. I am Mike Volkin host of Freelancer School and lead instructor for Freelancer Masterclass.
Today we have a very special guest, Mania Mavridou.
She is an Architect & Color Consultant, and the Owner of the DesignMania, very successful freelancer. So, DesignMania is the Architectural Studio where design meets psychology to create spaces for people to live and work in happily.
So, here’s her resume, really quick.
In 2014 she founded Designing for Happiness, which is the 1st Greek blog (and one of the very few worldwide) and it was about Interior Design Psychology.
She has a rich experience in teaching Architectural Drawing and CAD, and now gives lectures and seminars on Interior Design Psychology, Color Psychology, and Visual Marketing.
Then In 2016, if that wasn’t enough, she started writing for Millo, which is the top American blog for creative freelancers and she’s been doing that and as well as being the content curator for The Freelance Report. And if you don’t know about the Freelance Report just google it and there are a lot of great resources there.
And then, in 2019, which is this year, she founded The Successful Blog, (it’s literally called the successful blog) which helps creative freelancers follow their dreams and build a successful business. ]
Mike: Today, actually what I thought, since she knows so much about creative freelancing, we’re gonna talk about some of the pain points that creative freelancers have when they’re trying to scale their business.
Now, don’t worry if you’re not a creative freelancer, we will be sure that you get value out of this podcast and you’re gonna learn some good tips.
So, the first question I have for you Mania is: What’s the goal or the dream for creative freelancers?
Mania: I’m a freelance architect for almost 25 years, so I know first hand what a creative freelancer dreams of.
Our goal or dream is attracting the ideal clients who’ll fall in love with our work and will pay us what we deserve!
A creative’s dream client is someone who trusts them and gives them the freedom to create.
Also, creative freelancers don’t just want money, they need to feel that their work is appreciated.
Mike: That is true, yeah, and I think all freelancers are like that, right? They want to get validation for their projects.
Mania: They don’t sell a commodity, they sell an idea, or a piece of art sometimes, or as I’m saying, a better, a promising future for the client.
(Mike: And might I just add, even though you’re Greek and English isn’t your first language, I mean you speak fantastic English, it’s really good!
Mania: Thanks! You’re very kind!)
Mike: What is creative freelancers’ biggest misconception?
Mania: That was mine too, some years ago.
They believe that being talented or qualified and doing a great job is all they need to succeed.
Mike: Ok, so what reality kind of hits them when they realize those misconceptions are not true?
Mania: The painful truth!
No matter what they’re told or have imagined, freelancing is not as easy as it seemed!
And many professionals think that they’ll make more money, working less than an employee.
This is absolutely not true.
And unfortunately, freelancing is not sitting by the pool and watching the money rolling in.
So, I’m saying this a lot, although freelancing is great, it’s not for everyone.
So, fresh freelancers at the beginning they feel lost and disappointed.
There’s so much competition out there. There are so many gifted creative freelancers, doing the same things, even better than them.
It’s hard to get noticed, stand out and attract quality clients.
It’s even more difficult to get paid for their work and earn a decent income.
Mike: Yeah, I mean all that’s true, so what do they think the problem is?
Mania: Well, they’re trying to understand what they’re doing wrong, but they’re looking in the wrong direction.
They think they must become better at what they’re doing, be it designing, writing, photo shooting or illustrating.
They keep on honing their skills, which is good and necessary.
But they don’t see the big picture.
And some of them will never find out what the real problem is!
Mike: I’m afraid to ask what is the real problem?
Mania: If you cannot sell what you’re creating, you’re doing a hobby, not a job.
They may know how to write, or design perfectly, but they don’t know how to attract quality clients and sell their services.
They cannot communicate their value, because nobody taught them how to do it.
And especially creative freelancers don’t feel well promoting their services or work.
They feel awkward, not comfortable.
Mike: I think that’s everyone, I mean unless you’re a salesman freelancer you’ve never really been told how to sell, you know.
Mania: This is true but you know, creative freelancers I think they are more sensitive with this.
Mike: Is there a solution to this problem?
Mania: In most cases, creative freelancers have to make a tough decision.
They must change their mindset about marketing and selling.
If they want to do business, they must learn how to do it, they have no other choice.
Once they’ve made this decision, what follows next is easier: they just have to implement tested recipes and effective strategies that bring results.
It’s important to say that they must switch from being their clients’ employees to business owners. This is important.
Because I’ve noticed that many freelancers are doing an amateur work & expect to get paid as professionals.
Mike: Very true, you’ve got to treat your business like a business. It’s not a part-time gig!
Mania: This is the most important, every freelancer has to understand that.
They must turn from a self-employee to a business owner.
Mike: Unfortunately, if you’re a creative freelancer is not all work that you want to do, you have to get out there and you have to prospect for clients, you have to go outside your comfort zone a little bit and unfortunately, it’s not just for creative freelancers, a lot of freelancers have that problem.
That’s the very definition I think of being a freelancer, is coming outside your comfort zone and prospecting for clients in ways that you may not feel comfortable or, you know, just trying new things, anything. With a small business owner I mean, they’re always looking for new ways to generate revenue and grow the company.
So you have to think of it the same way as a small business would, right?
Mania: Yeah, right!
What’s keeping creative freelancers from achieving those goals and succeeding?
Mania: First of all, as I said before, the false mindset.
Even when they realize what they’re doing wrong, some of them resist changing.
It’s in human nature.
It’s not easy to get rid of bad habits, old habits. You have to practice daily to acquire new, good habits.
Or worse, they don’t want to accept reality.
If you ask me about Greeks, for instance, they’re never wrong, it’s always somebody else’s fault!
It’s the financial crisis, the huge competition, the uneducated clients who don’t appreciate their value.
It’s never their fault!
But if you don’t accept what’s really happening, you cannot change it!
Mike: Very true! I should tell you though as a freelancer one of my favorite benefits is I can travel anywhere in the world and work.
I was in Greece not too long ago, one of my favorite places in the world is Corfu, I don’t know if you’re near Corfu.
I’ll tell you that along my travels around Greece I saw no less than at least 3 mass protests in the street, there’s a lot protest going on.
Mania: When was it?
Mike: It was 5 or 6 years ago or so, I believe.
Mania: We lived a huge financial crisis, for almost 10 years and now we’re getting out of it, it seems like we’re out of it.
Mike: It’s hard to tell, who knows, hopefully, you’re out of it!
The countryside is unbelievably gorgeous and I love the culture and the food can’t be better!
Mania: This is true!
Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing for freelancers today, if you’re selling anything that maybe they should know about, any kind of content that you want them to read? Just give us some resources, where they can go to learn more about you.
Mania: There was a second thing I wanted to add and I can connect it with your question.
The lack of right guidance.
When they [creative freelancers] decide that they want to be business owners and they want to learn how to sell and market their business, they can’t find someone to help them.
So, this is where I come now, with my new blog, thesuccessfulblog.com where I want to help creative freelancers build a successful business.
Mike: Great, that’s certainly helpful!
Some of them haven’t made the step yet, they are afraid of jumping into freelancing and I want to help them with my knowledge, my tricks, my tips and maybe a seminar later.
Mike: How often is that updated, the blog?
Oh, It’s very new, I launched it … end of July.
Mike: Oh, wow, ok!
So I have not a lot of content yet, it’s about 20 posts, almost… I have 10 English posts. Yeah, it’s new, but I have a lot of content in my mind, in drafts…
Mike: I bet…
Mania: So much content! That’s why I decided to do it.
Mike: Well, that’s a good domain you got, thesuccessfulblog.com, I can’t believe that’s not taken, but I guess now it is!
Mania: You know, I bought it 2,5 years ago. I woke up one day and said, I’ll give it a try but I won’t find that.
Mike: You found it!
Mania: And it was cheap!
Mike: Yeah, that’s great! I know domains are expensive especially when that makes sense like thesuccessfulblog.com, so good job!
I really appreciate you’re joining us for this podcast today at Freelancer School and I hope to have you on as a future guest!
Mania: I’m also very glad to be here!
Mike: Thanks so much, Mania. Have a great day!
Mania: Have a great day too! And if you come again to Greece, call me!
Mike: I’ll buy you a mic mac, one of my favorites, you know what a mic mac is?
It’s like a fast-food gyro, you call them gyros!
I’ll definitely let you know if I hit Greece again!
Thanks so much for joining us, take care, bye-bye!
Mike Volkin is a serial entrepreneur and lead instructor at FreelancerMasterclass.com.
He has built and sold 4 companies and wrote 5 books (one best-seller).
He is currently featured on the homepage of Upwork.
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