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“I don’t feel confident in my work.”

In: Finding Your Voice

Are you squinting your eyes at the screen trying to decide if this describes you or not? (Of course you are, you're probably reading this on an iPhone the size of my elbow.)

It's kind of an ugly characterization—nobody wants to admit to feeling less than confident in what you're doing. And yet, I've got news: It's so, so common.

Here's how it shows up:

:: You're nervous as hell about sending that invoice

:: You pray when sending a client deliverable (maybe even on both knees)

:: You routinely get pushback from clients who “want to see other options”

:: You feel more like an order taker / slave than a professional being paid for their expertise

:: You see clients making mistakes but you're hesitant to correct them. After all, the client's always right…right?

:: You're constantly comparing yourself to other people in your industry

:: You get hives just thinking about raising your rates (psst—I've got a workshop coming up to help you exactly with this)

You know why all this is happening, right? It's not about your work—it's about the fact that you're now accepting money for your work. Once you introduce the money factor into the equation, everything changes…including how much confidence you've got in yourself. Now there are expectations. Now there's pressure. NOW YOU MUST LIVE UP TO THE VALUE OF THE MONEY LAID BEFORE YOU. *bows head*

So what's a gal / guy / zebra to do?

The answer: Gain confidence by helping your clients gain confidence in you.

No matter who you are, when you first start working with a client, they have no idea if you're really any good. They're taking a risk on you; they're swinging the bat. So especially in the beginning, they're always wondering, “Did I make the right choice?” They're looking for any and every signal that could help them figure that out. They're taking their cues from you.

In all my experience as a freelancer, business owner, service provider, and copywriter, there's one trick that demonstrates not only your confidence in your work, but helps them to have confidence in it, too:

Justifying your madness.

How many times have you taken your marching orders, gone to work for days or weeks, and then:

  • Just sent the list of taglines
  • Just sent the website mock-up
  • Just sent the diet plan
  • Just sent the finished painting
  • Just sent the final deliverable

It's normal; you know that's what the client is paying you for, so that's what you deliver. But you know what happens, right? All of the actual time you spent thinking, planning, plotting, brainstorming, deciding, iterating and doing your job…gets lost in translation. All of your hard work? The client NEVER SEES. All the sweat, the tears, the rum you drank “for inspiration”…it's like it never existed at all. (Which is really only good when it comes to the rum.) As a result?

Your client feels cheated.

Even if you did what you were supposed to. Even if you delivered everything they asked. Even if the end result is phenomenal.

They might be paying you for the end result, but the full value of your work isn't communicated in the end result itself.

As this timely article over on 99U quotes:

“Psychologists have long noticed what’s sometimes been called the “labor illusion:” when it comes to judging other people’s work, we might say we’re focused only on whether they did the job quickly and well—but really we want to feel they wore themselves out for us.”

And that's precisely where justifying your madness comes in.

Check out the video below and watch me walk you through a fun, quick little example of exactly what I mean using my own work to demonstrate. (And also hear my man voice—always a treat!) Because once your clients feel confident about the work you're doing? You will, too.

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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