Some six years and a thousand projects earlier, give it or take, I was an enthusiastic newbie freelancer who wanted to know all there’s to know about freelancing. While waiting to land my first job as a freelancer, I used to spend days and nights on freelance-related forums available at that time. There was this question that troubled me a lot. Why is it so hard to get your first or any freelance project? Of all the things and theories you can possibly read, there was a line that has stuck with me all this time. I just can’t shake it off no matter how hard I try.
So, my story goes, one forum member claimed that’s impossible to find work because there are so many freelancers who are ready to sell their firstborns just to get a project. I knew that was a figure of speech. Was that a statement blown out of proportion? A shameless exaggeration that was supposed to serve as someone’s excuse for failing to find work? Well, I had to wait a couple of years to find out myself first-hand.
Are you really that desperate?
Before I knew it, the time had come for my freelance profile to get a logo. Until then, I’ve never had a chance to walk in my clients’ shoes. You know, to see how it works from the other side of the freelance process when you are supposed to hire rather than to work on a project. So, I posted my first project as a client. I didn’t have to wait too long to get the answer to my question.
There were dozens of freelancers literally begging me for work in their bids. I didn't know if I was more shocked or disappointed with these please-hire-me bids. If you don't want to get hired then the best way to do it is to beg for work. It's not a reverse psychology stuff, but a simple business truth. Imagine for a moment that you are choosing among the candidates at a job interview. Who's going to drop out the first from your list? We all know that has to be a candidate with the Puss in Boots (Shrek) eyes. The same works for freelancers.
What does it mean to be a Freelance Diva?
I'm not saying that you should try a rockstar attitude either. Why? Because it will give you the exact same result as the "desperate" approach. No client will hire you if you go to either of these extremes. So, what's the solution?
Pretend that you don’t care! At least, for a while. Even if I haven’t got a project in weeks, I still play hard to get. I reply by saying that I’m currently busy working on a project, but I will be available in a day or two. The truth is that I can’t wait to start working on a new project, but I don’t want to show it. Of course, a Diva attitude comes with a price you have to pay. Some clients aren’t willing to wait or they simply prefer freelancers who only use two words in their vocabulary: “Yes Sir!” But, when a Diva approach works, it really works.
A Diva doesn’t negotiate – A Diva demands!
Try being a Diva, even for a moment. See how it works for you. Are you afraid? I totally understand you. Remember? I have already been there where you’re right now. You’re afraid that you’re going to lose a client, aren’t you? On the contrary, you just increased your chances of winning a project. How? Well, it’s in our nature to notice things or people who stand out. You have dozens of freelancers who are trying to win the same project as you do. They’re begging while you’re holding your ground. Congratulations! You just got your client’s attention. There are no guarantees, but one thing is for sure. You intrigued your potential client. That’s a good start, isn’t it?
It’s (NOT) easy for you to say
When you look at my profile, all you can see are hundreds of five-star reviews. You are probably thinking: ah, it's easy for him to say. Being a Diva with such a freelance profile is easy. Think twice! What do you think how I got here where I'm now? By begging for work or being a Diva?
Try it! What do you have to lose? Be a Diva only for a day in your freelance life. If it doesn't work and doesn't give you new clients, then go back to the safe zone. It's true that a Diva strategy doesn't work always. Some clients may find your attitude to be arrogant. You may even seem disinterested in work. But those clients you impress will come back for more work. Make no mistake about it.
Again, give it a try. Let me know how it feels for you to be a Diva, even for a day, a project or two. Maybe there’s another way I’m totally unaware of. Let me hear what you have to say about freelance Divas. Is it a myth or reality of our brave new freelance world?