The Employee Mindset vs The Consultant Mindset
I keep running into a sentiment online that freelancing is really hard and requires such unpleasant things as:
I argue that these are all symptoms of The Employee MindsetTM.
The one single most important mindset shift that you have to make for freelancing to work well is from The Employee Mindset to The Consultant Mindset.
Everything you've ever been taught in school and in college was preparing for you to be an employee. Don't take risks, don't rock the boat, stay in your corner, don't try to take over the manager's job. Quiet down, sit up straight, and do as you are told.
Naturally, this is the exact opposite of what brings success in the real world!
And do note, in many cases, The Employee Mindset is fine and good if you are, you know, actually an employee. Someone has to write the code, and in a larger organization, it isn't necessarily always helpful to try and provide consult-y type help. Trying to usurp the manager's role can be very unwanted. And I'm certainly not saying to never ask for help.
But to get the good freelance gigs, this won't cut it. One way of thinking about this is, are you just a pair of hands, or are you a trusted advisor who also happens to write code? Do you make the client's life harder or easier? When consulting, you are basically a manager and a technician in one. And both of these are skills that have to be practiced.
The reason I dislike Upwork so much is that it lets you keep operating in The Employee Mindset as a freelancer and even do relatively well. But many of the people on there know exactly what they want, and just need a "pair of hands" to type in the code that will do the thing they want. Often rates are low, and it turns into nothing more than a harder version of having a job.
And since development pays so well these days, you might as well just get a dev job in this case.
Pssst! And by the way:
Taking on more of the Consultant Mindset is also a great way to enhance your career if you choose to stay working for an employer! I'm not an employment coach, but knowing when to take initiative without being the person who is belligerent in the eyes of the manager is a great way to get promoted. Ask, "do I make the manager's life easier or harder?"
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