Desperation: The Best and Worst Thing for a Freelancer



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Desperation can cause you to stay up later, try harder and take on projects that you have no previous experience with for a new challenge and to expand your repertoire. On the other hand, desperation can cause you to undercut, undersell and to stick with clients you may be better off without.

Clients can sense the “I-would-do-anything-for-this-gig” desperation. Again, this is not always the worst thing if you are able to stand up for yourself and bargain for a fair price. There is no crime in wanting something badly, in fact it shows passion and perseverance;  but if you aren’t firm about what you deserve in terms of compensation, clients can walk all over you.

Although it is easy to live by [client=job=money] model, if the client or the job isn’t a good fit, you probably shouldn’t take the gig – here’s why. I believe that equation should be more like this [client=good connection=(if you do a good job)possible other connections=ongoing work/ multiple jobs=more money, more connections and hopefully a great recommendation.]

Picking good clients is a skill that you will hone over time as a freelancer. Maybe you really get along with people in a certain industry or geographical area. I am not suggesting that you give up a job because the project seems hard or because a client can be difficult or don’t seek challenges outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes it is a push and a challenge that is necessary as a freelancer to be exposed to.

Taking on “different” or “difficult” jobs and clients can be beneficial. It will give you more experience with overcoming adversity, it will sharpen your problem-solving skills and there will be a huge sense of accomplishment once you overcome  and complete this challenge/ job. (Not to mention you will go to your awesome clients and kiss their feet!) 

Just be aware of what you are getting into, and weigh the benefits to ensure that you will gain enough from the challenge. Is it a great portfolio piece, great exposure or even just a great connection to have? If you really can’t find many benefits, and you keep reminding yourself “but it’s a job” – you probably won’t be really happy. Remember. Don’t be too desperate!

Instead, be desperate in a different way and walk business-to-business with confidence selling your services. You would be surprised how many people appreciate the gesture and will contact you afterwards. If they don’t, follow up! “Hey I was that person that came into your shop and we were chatting about puppies. Remember that I am a freelancer and I told you that I can do X, Y or Z for your business? I just wanted to see if you had given that some thought.”

The worst they can say is no.

So go out there and be a certain degree of desperate as you continue to build your portfolio and earn jobs that you want!

Good luck!


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