Dealing with Self-Esteem Issues as a Freelancer

September 25, 2019 Sam Woolfe

Dealing with self-esteem issues has been one of the biggest challenges in my freelance career. I have encountered many sorts of obstacles since I started freelancing three years ago; yet, one of the most persistent things I've noticed is the way in which freelancing can contribute to certain self-esteem issues. In some ways, I think you really do need a strong sense of confidence in your abilities and skills as a freelancer in order to make a success out of your career. This applies to any career, of course, but perhaps more so when it comes to freelancing and self-employment, given that you have such a high degree of control over your work and the nature of your work can be quite insecure.

If you’re dealing with self-esteem issues as a freelancer, this doesn’t mean you have to call it quits and find a permanent role. I would like to illuminate the various self-esteem issues that you may face as a freelancer and offer some tips on how to productively deal with these problems.

Dealing with Self-Esteem Issues that Arise When Work Dries Up

Freelancing can be an emotional rollercoaster. There’s no doubt about it. One week you’re inundated with work, and while you may be struggling to keep up, you may at least feel a surge in your self-confidence and self-esteem. All of this work and busyness must surely be a sign that you’re a success and brilliant at your job. Then, for whatever reason, you have a week, perhaps a month (or multiple months) where you don’t have very much work at all. This dry spell causes your self-esteem to drop. You view may view this as a reason to be critical towards yourself. You may think this is the result of you being lazy, unproductive, or not good enough at what you do.

It’s important to keep in mind that every freelancer will go through these ups and downs. It’s completely normal to have slow periods. It’s not a reflection of ineptitude or poor character. Summer months can be slow, budgets run out, companies change their direction. It happens.

Self-esteem issues can arise in the midst of these changes, though, if you are someone who struggles with self-esteem instability. This refers to self-esteem that can easily change, day by day, or in a single day, based on changing events and circumstances. It’s vital to have stable self-esteem (based on an awareness of and confidence in your abilities) so that you don’t find yourself consumed by self-criticism when work dries up.

There are other things you can do to boost your confidence when work dries up and break the cycle of feast and famine:

  • Use your free time for self-improvement (e.g. build skills and work on personal projects).
  • Update your portfolio to include new work that best reflects your abilities, interests, and values (also be sure to share it on social media – you never know who might see it).
  • Network by attending industry conferences and mixers, get in touch with old clients to see if they need work and connect with relevant people in the industry on social media.

Dealing with Self-Esteem Issues that Arise When You Compare Yourself to Others

When you have unstable self-esteem as a freelancer, this can result in the success and struggles of other freelancers changing your self-esteem in a big way.

There are always going to be other freelancers who are paid more and have better clients, greater achievements, more social media followers, and outstanding skills. As a freelancer, you don’t want to fall into the trap of constantly comparing yourself to such people (which, to be fair, is usually on social media and so doesn’t accurately reflect the entirety of that person’s freelance career). If you are making such comparisons and find that you feel worse about yourself after, this is usually a sign of self-esteem instability. And it can lead to a huge drop in self-confidence, self-criticism, and apathy.

On the other hand, you may notice freelancers who you judge aren’t doing as well as you are. If this sort of comparison makes you instantly regard yourself in a positive way, but you don’t feel this way in spite of such comparisons, then this could also be an indication of self-esteem issues.

Overcoming self-esteem issues as a freelancer is difficult yet it can be done. Keep in mind the following if you ever notice your self-esteem drop when work dries up or you compare yourself to other freelancers:

  • Can I provide value?
  • Am I working on any projects that matter to me?
  • Do others appreciate and benefit from my work?
  • Did it take hard work to get to this point in my freelance career?
  • Have I improved during my freelance career?

I think most freelancers would be able to honestly answer these questions with a "yes." Even being able to answer one question with a "yes" is sufficient to support my point. As a freelancer, you possess enough ability to support stable self-esteem and deal with self-esteem issues. Don’t let the ups and downs of freelancing or other freelancers affect this.

APA Reference
Woolfe, S. (2019, September 25). Dealing with Self-Esteem Issues as a Freelancer, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 19 from

Author: Sam Woolfe

Find Sam on TwitterFacebook and on his blog.

Leave a reply