Nice freelancers finish last. How to dominate with a clear conscience

The bottom line is you need to be a shark. Right now you're a salmon, jumping from rock to rock trying to get up the waterfall

This is an excerpt from the “Nice Freelancers Finish Last” Playbook.  You can download the book in its entirety for free, by clicking here.


If you’re a freelancer, chances are you’re used to being ‘nice’. After all, niceties & positivity can help you win your next project…

…the trouble is, being nice does not guarantee that you will win that dream project!

The sooner you realise that in business, fuzziness and good-will is a commodity seldom splashed around, the sooner you can consider putting together a strategy to dominate your area of expertise.

The bottom line is you need to be a shark. At the moment you’re a salmon, jumping from one rock to another in an attempt to reach the top of the waterfall.

Oddly enough, most freelancers NEVER realise this.

I have been there, I have done that, and.. well you know the rest. Before I figured out the key aspects of thinking which I now deploy I was where you are, trying to find a way that “worked” for managing workflow, hustling to find new clients and all while trying to run a business.

It look me years and one distinct failure before realising that I was limiting myself, positioning myself behind an earnings ceiling, not thinking big enough to transcend my situation.

This is an excerpt from the “Nice Freelancers Finish Last” Playbook.  You can download the book in its entirety for free, by clicking here.

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  • Glen Scott

    The statement “The sooner you realise that in business, fuzziness and good-will is a commodity seldom splashed around” may well be true. However, I would suggest that showing compassion in business is a huge _advantage_ because it is so seldom used. Therefore, being a “nice” freelancer can actually give you a big competitive advantage.

    If you haven’t already, I thoroughly recommend reading “Love is the Killer App” by Tim Sanders. In it, he describes a very simple 3 point plan for helping yourself by helping others first.

  • Liam at Freelancelift

    Hey Glen, you’re absolutely right – when it comes to helping others (and/or clients) compassion, empathy, care and attention gives you a huge advantage. When it comes to helping oneself though in the pursuit of growth it pays to be a little more decisive, strategic and single-minded even if that does involve helping yourself by helping others.

    That is the over-arching theme of the book (being strategic, thinking bigger), I’m not mandating we all hate on each other :)

    Thanks for your comment, and I’ll second your recommendation for Tim’s book!

  • boywondercreative

    @Glen: I am with you – at least in my heart. I’d give you the shirt off my back (like the actual shirt I’m wearing) because that’s the world I’d like to live in. However, it toughs to be that way in business – especially as a web-worker.

    In my five years, I’ve seen some wild things from clients all in the name of getting more for less. At first, I thought it was just the grade of clients I worked with. Having done work for major corporations and observed the same behavior, it’s about people.

    Imagine the tasteless Tweets/comments people post in reference to awful, horrible, tragic events that occur to others. I’m sure some of those folks are nice people in person, but they can be mean as they like on the internets, and with relative ease, because the internet acts a reality distortion field of sorts. There’s a disconnect that reduces people to user profiles, and you can’t do any real harm to a profile right?

    The same idea applies for web workers. When working with clients you’ll never meet in person, or even speak to, it’s easier to get shafted because they are not seeing you as a real person. Toss in the fact that times are tough, and many people are looking to get as much for as little as possible, the nice guy is looking like lunch. And it doesn’t feel as bad because you’re not really a person.

    I hate to be so cynical, but after years of resistance and reading a book titled The Art of Selfishness, acceptance set in. Now, that doesn’t mean you should accept becoming lunch. You can get a regular job with the security of a paycheck for all of that.

    Nor does it mean that you should go day-to-day bending people over before they can shaft you. The world has enough of that, and freelancing is supposed to free you from this cycle.

    I’m learning the best approach is to follow boxer rules: protect yourself at all times. That may have been a better metaphor/title for this post, but eh, sharks are cool as shit.

    The best way to position yourself to help others is to make sure you are taken care of. I can’t share my lunch with you, if I’m someone else’s lunch.

    • Liam at Freelancelift

      Thanks for the meaty comment – its really appreciated and you’re right; its definitely a fine line we’re all treading between self preservation and caring service delivery. I’ve got a post coming up in and around freelancers not being exempt from “being in business”, will get it out to you as soon as I can :)

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