How to Keep Jealousy out of the Freelancing Equation

Oh, jealousy – that unfortunate emotion with all too great of a potential to disrupt our personal and professional lives. Jealousy might actually bring out some decent points – like a drive to be better, or even the best.

More often than not, though, jealousy can be a terrific waste of energy that should otherwise be devoted to productivity. Goodness knows, if there’s one thing you need to be in order to make it in the freelancing universe, it’s productive.

Think of your freelancing journey as a narrative of sorts. If you approach it from more of a subjective, unemotional point of view, then the pitfalls will be fewer. After all, as with any intriguing plot, nothing in the freelancing world is quite what it seems.

Why so successful?

If you’ve been struggling to gain traction in your freelancing career, it’s all too easy to fall into the jealousy trap – especially when it looks like everyone else in your niche is more successful than you are. Let’s consider, for a moment, two different scenarios:

  1. By appearance…
  • You’ve chosen to join LinkedIn to network with potential employers as well as fellow freelancers.
  • You notice that freelancers with decidedly less talent and very basic profiles have lots of connections and even recommendations that you have no idea how you’d manage to get.
  • You’re trying to join different groups, and find that the moderators or established freelancers readily discuss their well-paying-or-at-least-regular-clientele experiences, yet are evasive (at best) about how they actually get these jobs.

And so, your jealously seethes.

What’s more probable…

  • Many people on LinkedIn mistake quantity for quality, so they become LIONs, which means LinkedIn Open Networkers. They’ll network with anyone who sends them a request – even if that person’s profile is the very definition of spam.
    • Don’t believe me? If you’re taking the LinkedIn route, choose a particularly popular profile in your same freelancing niche – 500+ connections – and (if their privacy settings permit) scroll through their connections. If you see a good amount of profiles with poor headlines/job titles, well then, point proven.
    • Those one-sentence recommendations from people who really don’t seem to be clients or coworkers might actually just be another thread in the networking tapestry, wherein one person agrees to write a recommendation for another person if the favor’s returned. It’s like a written form of #followforfollow. There’s no real substance in that approach, now is there?
  • Some freelancers are just as poor and starving for work as anyone else, but obviously don’t want anyone else to know that.
    • They write like they’re a boss, when really they’re as worried as could be. Take a look at their work histories – you might find fluff instead of the stuff that makes freelancing futures.
  1. By review…
  • You apply for what seems like an ideal freelancing gig. The pay is reasonable, you’ve got the necessary experience, it’s all but a given that you’ll be accepted. Except, one week/month/you get the idea later, you get that standard rejection email, or no response at all.
  • How could this happen?! Online reviews of the company seem great, and, judging from the poorly-written reviews from satisfied current workers, their standards don’t seem very high. Why on earth were you not hired?

And so, your jealousy soars.

The reality could actually be that…

  • The company in question is actually questionable at best. In their quest for self-promotion, they pay for fake, positive reviews to bolster their search engine ratings.
    • With algorithms savvier than ever, this tactic can’t possibly work for much longer. Yet, those pages could still litter the Internet in perpetuity as an afterthought in search results, still clinging to the hope that honest freelancers such as yourself will be duped.

There’s no such thing as job security in freelancing careers; everyone who’s spent even a short amount of time in this career path recognizes that. In a perfect world, freelancers who’ve legitimately “made it” should be forthcoming with specific techniques on how to mirror their success.

No matter how successful you’ve been, are, or will be, your perspective determines your reality.

In 2012, the late, much-cherished Leonard Nimoy gave an incredibly inspiring convocation address at Boston University. I encourage you to watch it and take his words with you as you go about your freelancing endeavors, the shadows of jealousy fading away in the light of optimism and perseverance:


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