TL;DR I'm attracting clients with shaky confidence because I have shaky confidence about leaving behind my niche and getting out of my own comfort zone. The following writing does not explore my internal psychoanalysis, but it's a reminder to myself that confidence is mine to find. And I gotta do the hard thing.
I’ve noticed a triggering pattern this year in my interactions with clients and almost clients. Many of them lack the self-confidence needed to follow through on the projects they agreed to hire me for. Their avoidance stresses me out because I’m not emotionally equipped to hold their hand through self-doubt.
I feel triggered asf because it feels like they’re asking me to show up for them emotionally, and make them feel good about themselves. Not. Fair. That’s not my line of work. I’m not a second grade teacher.
As aggravating as flakiness is, it comes with the territory in service-based freelance work. Some times people say they want to hire you – knowing full well they do not have the money to pay for your services.
It’s understandable that expenses and personal calamity can come out of nowhere – and very suddenly a $600 or $700 website purchase doesn’t feel like the right investment anymore. That’s completely fair. Most times, nothing actually came out of nowhere, they just can’t afford me and no one wants to say that. I don’t care, really.
I’ve been at this long enough to know how to qualify leads, and pick up on how serious a potential sign-on is. If they don’t circle back in 7 days, that project isn’t happening this month. And if it’s not this month it’s simply not real to me, and neither is the person in my DMs.
But this post isn’t about how shitty it is when you don’t get hired for a gig. Fairytale clients-in-waiting aren’t what triggers me.
It’s not that people trigger me exactly. It’s when people say one thing and then getting wobbly on their word, and then they start behaving in a dependent way. Like they’re seeking my approval, or my praise, or some assurance from me for their peace of mind.
If you need more then call your mom, or your actual bestie. I can’t be that for you. It’s an onion in here and we’re gonna peal and chop this bitch, together.
Obviously, your girl loves to close a client. Duh. A) I like money. Don’t you? B) I LOVE what I do to the the point of near-obsession.
I think about my business every single day. I wonder how I can tighten my building process, how I can style and format my templates better. I wonder if I should start making pre-made themes, and what features would make MY themes signature. I wonder if I can sell templates and still give clients value.
I pore through 12 tabs of articles and how-to’s before I starting talking reckless on anything in the tweets. I wonder if I think about work too much. I wonder if I really know what I’m doing, or what I’m talking about.
And then, I push those questions aside and I wake up in the morning, drink my 2 liters of water, drink my 2 cups of coffee and I sit down AND WORK. But it doesn’t really feel like work because
I started as a writer. I wrote and self-published 5 fiction titles and 2 personal non-fiction, memoir type things. I’ve had some form of a blog for over 10 years. I love WordPress.
I made it my business because other writers reached out to me for help with their books and setting up their websites. I realized that aside from making money with web design, I was also really good at helping people figure out how to get from idea to completed thing.
So imagine the personal nightmare of doing something you love, that you’re good at, and being naturally helpful and quick thinking and able to deliver, and running into client after client who mentally checks out of the gig before the finish-line? Imagine only having half the portfolio of your completed work because people stop replying to emails and texts?
Imagine being forced to end client relationships because people are actually belittling you and being downright disrespectful? Or walking away from reliable money because a man won’t acknowledge what you said, until he needs help solving something?
Or collaborating for 6 months, and your client starts ignoring your advice, repeatedly doing the opposite of something you’ve repeatedly explained to them, and then they subconsciously derail the plan you outlined together several times, because they keep saying they don’t know what you want from them?
And now you’re in an emotional tug-of-war because you don’t want anything other than to do the project work, and maybe not be paid to be ignored for the advice you were hired to give?
Imagine the exhaustion at reminding your clients to update their hosting or switch, only to get emergency texts when their domains expire and get snatched up?
How and why are client relationships that started enthusiastically and solidly, falling apart at the exact turning point where they’re supposed to go to the next level?
It’s always that chunk of clients and almost-clients who try to establish personal friendships, or begin relying on me for something resembling emotional security. You can say you’re not looking for an emotional reassurance, but I’m not going to sit here and break down intention, implication, and how call-and-response in communication works.
Don’t misinterpret this. I’m not a robot. I know the importance of acknowledging people. I know the power of empathy and a kind word. I know how good that stuff is because I cry every single week at Grey’s Anatomy. I’m not a heartless Scrooge. But I’m not about the bullshit either.
I don’t want people I work with on my personal Instagram. Are you mad? I also don’t want to spend 2o minutes aimlessly chatting with you about your family, or your hobbies. Or pulling you together from a hard day of negative self-talk. I am simply not interested in the things you allow to distract you.
Baby girl, life is hard. We don’t need to compare notes and I’m not going to give you my sob story. If you want to know about some stuff you can buy a book. (I said I like money right. You want my secrets, you can buy em!)
Life is hard, and we get through it by getting through it. That is to say, we roll up our sleeves and we tackle the work at hand.
But let’s stitch this together, shall we?
That’s a rhetorical question. You can’t just “get to work” if you don’t have confidence in yourself. Because if you don’t believe in you, you’re just going to stall and avoid and procrastinate and eventually drop the whole thing all together.
You can’t tell me I’m wrong cause I’m not. Human beings are a wildly predictable species. I know you want to be special. Me too. We’re not. We have patterns and patterns are easy to read.
The women who hire me have good ideas. They have goals. They’ve achieved things. They do actually have confidence – sometimes. But sometimes as women, we doubt that we can really go all the way. We doubt that we have what it takes to get our whole dream.
And unfortunately, sometimes we allow outsiders to determine our confidence in our own ideas; men, family, members, strangers on Twitter.
Let alone control over your confidence.
Family is family, their job is to fuck you up mentally so that you have your psychological work cut out for you ahead of time. They’re literally just playing their role. Up to you if you let their noise take over of you rewrite the narrative, but again I’m a web designer yeah.
I’m not unpacking that shit for you. Strangers on Twitter don’t pay my rent unless they actually pay my rent. And even then, being “liked” is not a real thing in the real life world. And it does not equate to real self-worth.
Burn that into your brain even though I’m probably gonna say it again anyway.
My clients are also women who are unsure of using their voices. They’re also women with fear, trepidation, uncertainty. And so am I. So it’s not like I don’t know my market.
The gag is I’m a web designer. I’m a writer. I’m a small business owner, and as I like to remind people, I don’t have children for a reason.
I’m not the hand-holding kind. I’m the cry it out, wash your face, and “go get it done” kind.
If we fast forward passed the part where you stammer, stutter and mumble as you eat your words, forcing me to strain to hear and understand your disconnected upspeak, we can get on with the business of the steps we need to take to get you online, to finish your book, to promote your book, to run your e-mail campaign, to schedule your social content.
This is what I’m here for. Or so I thought. It’s starting to look more and more like I’m here to explain something important.
Be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with the people around you. If you want confidence, keep it real at all times. The more you practice that the better you’ll get. If you can’t tell when you’re lying to yourself, look into therapy or whatever.
I’m not licensed in anything. I’m not a counselor, coach, therapist, or reiki healer. I make websites. I write articles. I write books. I put together static promo content for social media. I build email templates. I’m selling a message and my services.
I am not selling friendship and heart-to-hearts. Though, there are a handful of clients who can tell you that after the work’s done I give you more good advice and plenty of encouragement.
I’m actually always available to my clients – given they’re showing up for themselves as well. And as long as they have good manners and respectful communication skills.
As I often remind people, if you come to me with an idea I’ll tell you to do it. I encourage everybody I interact with to do the things they want. I tell people to do what bring them joy. Life is short, scary, stressful, and unpredictable. DO THE THINGS THAT YOU WANT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE HERE AND ABLE.
I also hold people accountable with blunt reminders to cut their shit.
People are geniuses at crafting colorful excuses for why they didn’t or couldn’t do something. Usually, if you know how to read through bullshit, you can tell that these excuses are simply covers for doubt. Everything sounds so good when we’re gabbing on about what want to do, when we dream out loud.
But when it’s time to put your money where your mouth is; when we actually have to do the things we say will, sometimes we realize that we don’t know if we can. We begin to doubt our ability to follow through. But the trap of doubt and low confidence is that it starts making us into liars. We’re not about to say out loud that we don’t feel confident.
Doubt becomes a shadow over our heads. And even though we can feel it hanging there, we often love to pretend it isn’t. So we come up with every excuse we can think of to hide the thing we refuse to acknowledge. The thing that’s making us into a liar. The thing that is turning us into an actor. The thing that’s making us behave in codependent ways.
Doubt is a hallucination that has us strung out on external validation, hoping someone we admire and respect will serve us up a magic pill that erases the challenging part, like
“Hey, don’t worry. you don’t have to do the things that scare you. that’s fine. let’s just talk about nonsense and pretend that our goals aren’t important.”
Here’s the black and white of doubt: We ALL have it. We all have fear and uncertainty. Everyone feels like it’s too hard sometimes. The trick to handling it is acknowledging it.
When you stop a second and admit to yourself that you’re afraid and uncertain, you give yourself a chance to get a grip.
Okay, so you’re feeling insecure? Doubtful? Well, what are some things that you’re certain about? What are things you do know how to do, that make you feel good about yourself while you’re doing them? Can you do one of those things right now?
And here’s the moment where you turn the energy around. Will you do the thing that brings you joy right now or will you keep putting it off til later?
I can tell you 17 different ways to pump yourself up and you can close this window and not do any of them. And then you can fester about me writing this and how critical, harsh, and mean I am. That’s fine. I don’t care what you think about me, because I don’t need your approval to be right. See how that works, when you know what you believe and you trust your voice? But what does that change? So I’ve written a new blog, sent my emails, gotten some traffic, and… life goes on, yeah.
You have to make the time for doing what you love. You have to make yourself happy. Or what the hell else is the point of anything at all in your life? You have to make yourself feel good, invincible, powerful, confident.
If you want to do something that you never did before then you have to start making the adjustments to your mentality. I’m not arguing with anyone who can’t be bothered to use google and learn about the topics they’re interested in.
Make a list of all of the thing you want to accomplish. And as you make your list, say out loud “I can do that.”
Go over your list and order it any way you want. You can start with the easiest things, or you can dive deep into the one thing you don’t know about. The one thing that really intimidates you. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s hard to capture and kill that many slaves. Remember, if you start with the big intimidating goal on your list, you’re going to need stamina to see it through. Always give yourself time for your joy-activities to pump yourself off.
Do the hard thing. The hardest thing is not any item on your list of goals. Goals, in an abstract sense, are super fucking easy once you have a formula for staying focused.
The hardest thing is breaking our habits. We love our comfort zones. We love to binge watch our favorite shows. We love to seek empty validation on social media. We love to lay down and scroll our phones as we check out from our responsibility to ourselves, in a daydream, looking at other people’s lives. It’s not healthy to overdo this, and it won’t get us any closer to our best potential.
True confidence comes from knowing yourself and knowing what you want for real. Confidence comes from deciding what you will and won’t do, and owning your choices. It comes from creating your boundaries and holding them.
You have to give up on caring what other people will think, and you have to commit whole-heartedly to your truths.
If you’re not comfortable with recording yourself then don’t. If you want to record yourself and you want to overcome your discomfort then just practice until your voice stops shaking, until you feel good about a video. Keep going until you like it. Don’t ask other people for their approval on anything you do. Your self-approval is what matters.
If you struggle to speak up, then practice speaking into your voice recorder until you think you sound good.
Again, the trick to boosting your confidence at anything is showing up to do it. I can give you all the practical solutions but if you don’t practice, if you don’t push through your own doubt then you’ll never know.
I know my boundaries and I hold them. My strengths are organizing ideas, finding and using practical solutions. My biggest strength is believing that with focus and applied pressure I can achieve my goals.
I personally give myself 10 minutes or so to cry. Then, I shake it off and DO something. And I cry all the time. I am always scared and stressed and very often insecure. Little secret, I was sitting on my bedroom floor, folding my clothes and crying before I wrote this. It’s fine. Don’t ask because I won’t tell you. Boundaries.
We cry. We are human. It happens and it’s good to let it out. Let it out and move on.
What empowers me is action. I can only speak from my own experience. When I don’t feel confident, taking action and doing something I know I’m good at makes me feel better. Every single time.
What empowers you? Close this window and go do something that empowers you right now.
I know websites, writing, and heavy promotion. I also know you need to stop doubting yourself and book your call with me.
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