How to Fail at Freelancing (Or 5 Reasons Businesses Fail)


How to Fail at Freelancing (Or 5 Reasons Businesses Fail)

We are all about building motivation and discipline here at Legiit. We’ve published tons of articles covering all manner of tips for freelancers. But this post is gonna be a little bit different. We’re gonna look at the reasons businesses fail.

In short, this is a list of five steps to failing at freelancing. So, if you don’t want to succeed… if you don’t want to carve out the best life for yourself… if you don’t want to kick the 9 to 5… follow all of the bad advice that follows.

#1 Blame Anyone But Yourself

It’s really easy to find fault in others. And it’s really hard to find fault in yourself. In fact, psychologists have identified this as such a routine bias in human beings, that they’ve given a name to it: attribution error

Have you ever noticed that when someone cuts you off on the road that you mange to spout off all sorts of “creative” curses? But when you cut someone else off, you just let out a shrug and an “Oops!”.

It’s human nature to blame others before we blame ourselves. Unfortunately, this is also one of the top reasons businesses fail.

When sales are slow, for example, you can find all sorts of external explanations. The market is weak, your services aren’t in demand at this time of year, the platforms you sell on aren’t making your page visible enough.

The problem with this sort of thinking is that it doesn’t do you any good. Even if those things are true, you can’t do anything about them.

So, if you want to fail as a freelancer, be sure to always blame someone other than yourself. But if you’re looking to succeed, you are better off searching for the things that you can do to improve yourself.

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#2 Assume That Everything is Going Fine

Another one of the common reasons that businesses fail is that the leader assumes too much…

“We’re making enough money.”

“Our customers are happy.”

“This quarter will be better than last.”

The problem with assumptions is that they are typically not backed by any data, nor do they prompt action. By all means, assume that everything is going fine if you want your freelance business to stagnate.

But if you are growth minded, consider turning those assumptions into questions that drive you to measure success and take action, like these:

“What are my revenue, expenses, and profits this month?”

“How satisfied are my clients and what is leading to the dissatisfied ones?”

“What do I need to do to ensure that this quarter is more profitable than last?”

#3 Work For Money Alone

There’s a difference between making money and making a difference.

It’s no surprise that one survey found that people who worked for companies that lacked purpose were only 32% likely to feel engaged in their work, compared to 90% of employees in purpose-driven companies.

If the only thing that is motivating your freelance business is money, it’s going to be a long, tough ride. Money matters, of course. You need to pay the bills and put food on the table.  

But if you want to thrive, you need to find purpose in your work that goes beyond the paycheck. It’s common for big brands and organizations to adopt mission statements and core values that outline their purpose. There is no reason you can’t do the same for yourself as a freelancer.

Here are some examples:

For a freelance writer: My mission is to use the power of words to help businesses and online marketers connect with their customers on a meaningful level. Above all things, I strive to strike the perfect balance of authenticity and persuasion.

For a freelance SEO: I want to change the lives of small business owners. I want to transform them from budding start-up to success story through the power of internet marketing. By making their business grow, I’m not just helping them. I’m helping their employees, their families, their customers, and more.

So just work for money if you want to fail. But setting a higher purpose to your freelance business is a sure way to help yourself find meaning in the work every single day.

#4 Accept Failure

One of the primary reasons businesses fail is because they accept their failures as permanent. They fail to see them as mere obstacles on the path to glory.

Make no mistake, you will suffer setbacks as a freelancer. If it was easy, everyone would do it. What sets the success stories apart from the sad ones is how you approach those setbacks.

The freelancer who wants to fail will notice that they had two months of bad profits in a row and conclude that their business is heading down the drain. The freelancer who wants to succeed will instead see an opportunity to increase their marketing efforts or add more value to attract more customers.

The freelancer who wants to fail will get so overwhelmed with the sleepless nights of working overtime that they decide to throw in the towel and stick with a predictable 9 to 5 job. The freelancer who wants to succeed will decide that it’s time to hire an assistant or raise their prices to match demand.

Zig Ziglar said “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”

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#5 Get Comfortable

Finally, if you are looking to fail at freelancing, get comfortable with where you are. Settle down. Relax. And don’t feel the need to set goals for improving yourself or your business.

After all, that’s what your competitors are doing, right?


Freelancing can be a pretty competitive market. Long time clients can suddenly abandon you for other service providers who have found a way to add more value. The steady stream of new customers you’ve learned to depend on may slow to a trickle.

So if you want to succeed in freelancing, never settle. Never get comfortable with where you’re at. And always be looking for new mountains to climb.

About the Author


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Thanks for checking out my services!

My name's Ish--college English professor by day, interstellar copywriter by night.

The written word is my one true love (don't tell my wife!). I've been a writer at heart since as early as I can remember, I've been teaching writing for nearly a decade, and I've been content manager of a blog for the college that I teach at for about five years. What's more, I was the lead writer and editor for a table top roleplaying game that raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter (just Google "Open Legend RPG" and you'll see what I'm talking about).

I've also launched my own e-commerce, affiliate marketing, and local lead gen sites, and I'm a happy member of Superstar Academy. So I don't just know how to write. I know SEO. Whether you need blog posts, sales copy, website content, or more--I can take care of you. So take a look at what I have to offer, and don't hesitate to touch base if you've got any questions at all.

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