6 Figure Creative Icon

Back To Basics: Avoiding The Common Mistakes of Self-Taught Freelancing

Episode art
I wanted to share something with you that's been on my mind lately… as a self-taught entrepreneur, I skipped SO many of the basics when it comes to running a healthy business.
This dawned on me when I found myself looking up answers to things most people should know when they first start their businesses.
This made me realize that the vast majority of freelancers probably have similar blind spots in their own businesses, so I've decided to do something to celebrate our 250th episode…
We're taking a step back from our normal “advanced” topics to revisit the fundamental basics of freelancing, and I'm inviting you to join me on this journey. No matter your experience level or income, we all have something to learn and improve.
In this episode (and the upcoming series), I'll be sharing my own experiences as a self-taught freelancer who's made multiple millions but still needs to figure out some of the basic things I've skipped.
My goal is for us, the 6 Figure Creative Community, to come together and create healthier, happier businesses. And I believe that starts by focusing on the fundamentals.

Join The Discussion In Our Community

Click here to join the discussion in our Facebook community

Click the play button below in order to listen to this episode:

Episode Links

Facebook Community


Social Media


Send Us Your Feedback!


People and Companies

[00:00:00] Brian: Hello, and welcome to the six Figure Creative Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time listening to the show, first of all, welcome. Thank you for checking the show out. This podcast is for creative freelancers. We're trying to earn more from their creative skills without selling their souls, while admitting to themselves that you probably got a few things to work on as a, creative, as a freelancer.

[00:00:16] Brian: Maybe if a returning listener to the show, welcome back to the show. Thank you for coming. This is a big show for me because this episode 250, this is almost five years straight of podcasting every single week. We are a quarter of the way to a thousand episodes, and I've only seen a few different podcasts make it to the thousand episode mark, and most of those are like daily shows.

[00:00:34] Brian: there's only like a handful of weekly shows that I've seen make it to a thousand

[00:00:37] Brian: because it would take, I guess 20 years to do so. know if Podcasting's really been in the full swing for that long, but I'd love to make it 2000 episodes. We'll see what happens there.

[00:00:44] Brian: but whether this is the first episode you've ever heard from the show or the 250th episode for the show, you picked a really good episode to listen to because we're gonna address something that I think a lot of us struggle with. We're gonna go back to the basics. before all you experienced high [00:01:00] earners run away. Right now, don't, because I've earned multiple millions over my career and I still mess this stuff up.

[00:01:06] Brian: I'm gonna go to one of my favorite double negative quotes, and the quote is, Successful entrepreneurs never don't do the basics. Easier way of saying that is they always do the basics, but for some reason the double negative is what sticks with me.

[00:01:17] Brian: another way of saying that is if you want to be as successful as possible, you always have to make sure you do the basics and not just do them, do them well, and not just do them once.

[00:01:27] Brian: Do them always, to this day. I'm still guilty of this stuff, of ignoring the basics, forgetting the basics, skipping the basics. And for most of us as self-taught freelancers, we skip over a lot of the basics. And a lot of this stuff gonna cover in this entire series, cuz this is gonna be a series, by the way, spoiler alert, the stuff that I'm gonna cover in this series is stuff that I still haven't addressed myself as a person who's been an entrepreneur for 13, 14 years. Now, I still have skipped over a lot of these things, so some of this is me going on the journey of going back to the basics to fix and figure [00:02:00] out some of the stuff that I skipped. And I looked over as somebody who started out probably like you as a passion led freelancer. I found a creative skill that I loved, which for me was music production.

[00:02:09] Brian: I learned everything there was to learn about it. I figured out I could actually monetize a skill surprise, and I made a lot of money doing it, but I skipped so many steps along the way. And a lot of those steps were the bare bones basics of freelancing. And in this series, I wanna tackle all of those things that I skipped over and that I still need to go back and implement.

[00:02:27] Brian: And no matter your income level, no matter your experience level. You have probably skipped some of these things that I'm gonna cover in this series.

[00:02:33] Brian: And I'm not gonna pretend like every single thing in every episode on this series is gonna be of equal importance because some of the things that I've skipped over are just now starting to catch up to me.

[00:02:42] Brian: you know, I've put it off and now it's time to really take my business seriously, years and years later. But it still doesn't diminish that for you. It might be even more important than it is for me. So a lot of these things hold different weight for different business types, for different types of people, for different niches to different industries, and it really opens us up to all kinds of risk.

[00:02:59] Brian: And I don't just [00:03:00] mean legal risk, obviously. Legal risk is the thing that if you skip over certain elements of your freelance journey, just the basics, put yourself in a lot of legal hot water. You can put yourself into, Situations where your personal assets at risk, again, we'll get, we'll get onto this later, but there's also things like financial risk because you didn't learn budgeting, you didn't learn how to price your services.

[00:03:18] Brian: You didn't learn how debt worked, so all sorts of financial risk. You could put yourself into competition or competitive risk. So risk around not standing out in your niche. You picked the wrong niche, you picked the wrong market, you picked the wrong skills or service like these are all sorts of risks.

[00:03:31] Brian: That you've opened yourself up to as a freelancer by skipping over, forgetting or breezing through some of these fundamental basics as a freelancer. And again, I am as guilty as anyone listening to the show. I promise you that, you'll start to see how this fleshes out as some of the things that I have outlined for future episodes in the series The bottom line is if we ignore these things, if we skip these things for too long, if we diminish the value of these basics that we're gonna cover in this series, You are likely to have a pretty unhealthy business.[00:04:00] And it's one of those things, again, like I said, in my own business, I've ignored a lot of things, but those things fester and eventually they can rot and they can ruin your business if you ignore.

[00:04:08] Brian: so are the consequences of this apparent to you? If not I've not done my job as a podcast here. Hopefully you understand the risks, the consequences of not taking the basics seriously and as to why I at 250 episodes in am just now dedicating what will likely be a lot of episodes to these things.

[00:04:25] Brian: My goal is for us as a entire community, the six figure creative community on. A journey together to create a healthier happier, business for all of us combined.

[00:04:36] Brian: So let's talk about this. Here's my vision for the series. Shorter, but more frequent episodes, meaning more than one episode a week. I don't have a finger on how many I'm gonna do a week, but at least two, maybe up to three Do daily. Who knows? That'd be kind of fun to try, at least for a while. And the reason I wanna do shorter but more frequent episodes is because I want to silo off each individual thing so that you don't have to feel like you have to listen to every single episode in this entire [00:05:00] series. And I also, from what I've outlined so far, I have at least 20 to 30, maybe more episodes worth of just back to basics of freelancing that Some of these, I've never talked about. Some of these I've ignored myself for way too long, and some of these I will probably have to get experts in to talk with me about it or I'll have to go on a really deep dive binge to learn what I think is the 80 20 of that specific thing. and I want to keep these in very clearly labeled episodes so that you know which ones are relevant to you and which ones you can skip over without too much damage.

[00:05:28] Brian: Especially for those of you who've already done that thing and you've got that thing taken care of.

[00:05:32] Brian: But I have the right as the podcast host to change this up. Maybe we slow down, maybe we take a break from the series. Maybe I have some interview sprinkled in, cuz I still like talking to people. Maybe it moves to weekly for a while because the episodes are getting thick and long and they're meaty and they're not just short little 15, 20 minute episodes.

[00:05:48] Brian: So I have the right to change this up. that's the norm for anytime I cast a vision for something, it is subject to change. So here's some of the topics that I've mapped out for this series I just want you to kind of think through which of these things are going to be your weak points that you wanna pay special [00:06:00] attention to.

[00:06:00] Brian: so I've got this into like several different categories that are just kind of loosely organized right now. But the first category is what I just call ticky tacky Just little ticky tacky things that we have to figure out when we're getting started as a freelancer.

[00:06:11] Brian: And a lot of these 13 years, 14 years in my journey, am really just now addressing some of these things. So first thing is like business entities, how do you actually make sure you choose the right business entity for your. Type of service and you in your life, in your stage of life as well.

[00:06:24] Brian: Banking. This is something I've never talked about on the show, like how do I choose a bank? What do you look for in a good bank? Why do you need a good bank? Most people that I've seen just choose like one of the big banks like Bank of America. Never ever use those banks ever, as a freelancer.

[00:06:38] Brian: So we'll have a whole episode on that bookkeeping. That's a whole topic that I'm not great at, but I'll talk about from what I know. I'll do some research, I'll bring it to you. What I can say is at least the 80 20 of bookkeeping for freelancers without being a professional bookkeeper and hiring a bookkeeper, which is what a lot of people can and should do when they get to a certain level.

[00:06:54] Brian: Taxes boring but necessary. And we have talked about that on the show in the past, but I'll at least talk through how [00:07:00] I think through taxes, how I set up for taxes, and keep it as easy as possible for myself. And maybe I'll even share my s o P for what I do for taxes every year. intellectual properties.

[00:07:08] Brian: Another one. That's an area I don't have much expertise in. I would love to talk to an expert for that specific thing, but intellectual property is one of those things that as creatives, we have to really take this into account. Because if we don't protect the intellectual property that we create, especially designers, photographers, videographers, even musicians, music producers, a lot of us we're creating things.

[00:07:26] Brian: who owns that intellectual property? Do we do our clients? sometimes there's a gray area. So talking about that and understanding how to make sure we set up things so that we're protected as freelancers. Super important. And then finally under this ticky tacky kind of category is insurance.

[00:07:40] Brian: Really boring stuff I know. But if you are not insured, especially in America, shit happens. And if you aren't insured or you're underinsured and that happens to your business, you might be screwed, especially if you messed up that first thing in the list, which is business entities. So you kind of see how these are all coming together and just ignoring one of these little areas [00:08:00] can have a big cascading effect on the rest of not just your business but your life.

[00:08:03] Brian: So that's just the first category. The next one is foundational things. What are the foundational decisions and things that we have to know and do as far as basics when we are a freelance business owner? and maybe I'll, speed up this list just to kind of give you. A break in your brain, cuz your brain's probably going everywhere right now. I know myself, when I was mapping all this stuff out, my brain was running at a million miles an hour. I was so excited. I was like, oh, I wanna talk about this and that, and this is great. Oh yeah, I need to talk about that too. So first of all, for foundational things as a freelancer, finding your unique selling proposition or unique value proposition, what makes you unique as a freelancer if you don't have that?

[00:08:37] Brian: You're fighting an uphill battle for the rest of your career portfolio building. How do you build a great portfolio that attracts the right people setting your rates? We've talked about this before, but I'd love to just have a back to the basics episode on setting your Rates, website creation back to the basics of website creation.

[00:08:50] Brian: What do you need? Especially early on, it's the minimum viable, effective dose, right? Budgeting, I mean, come on. If you're not watching me on YouTube right now, I'm just [00:09:00] like shrugging and throwing my hands up. You have to know. Budgeting boring. It's stupid. I hate it. I'm not even great at it. This is an area that I could use a lot of help on like I said in the intro, I'm going to bring all my problems and just throw them out into the air for anyone to listen to.

[00:09:12] Brian: A lot of these things I'm weak at, I ignore, and this is almost my own challenge of me going through these things and implementing them in my own business in a bigger and better and more effective way, and or getting professionals to help you with things that I've ignored over the years. And then finally under the foundational area is credit cards and debt.

[00:09:30] Brian: Maybe this is better in ticky-tacky bullshit, but credit cards and debt. If you're a Dave Ramsey fan, they don't have any place in your business or life, and that's fine that that's you. I use them as a tool and we'll talk about how that is done as well. So it's a foundational area. Then we have marketing basics.

[00:09:43] Brian: I love talking about marketing all day, every day. this will be a great intro area for those of you, especially new people, but those of you who don't really know much about marketing. What the is marketing, How do you even set marketing goals? Especially for somebody as a freelancer, really unsophisticated. We don't put like forecast and build projection [00:10:00] spreadsheets and do all this crazy stuff that a lot of like big companies would do. How do we do this as just simple freelancers? The basics, right?

[00:10:05] Brian: we create a marketing budget? It could be time, it could be money. How do we. Choose our marketing channels. What are marketing channels, right? How do we create an elevator pitch that's effective? What is an elevator pitch even used for? It's not on the elevator, I promise you that. How do we build relationships with clients?

[00:10:19] Brian: How do we do word of mouth marketing? How do we actually turn that into a strategy? How do we create marketing collateral? What the hell is marketing collateral

[00:10:25] Brian: There will likely be more than these topics, but this is the siloed episodes that I'm talking about more frequently, but more bite size and you can pick and choose which one of these things you're interested in and as you need to know more about.

[00:10:35] Brian: And I, I challenge you honestly if you see the episodes coming out, don't just think about, what am I interested in? Cuz that's honestly what got you into trouble. That you're in right now as a freelancer is you just focused on the things that you're passionate about. But again the, sign behind me on the wall, if you're watching on YouTube says, it takes more than passion.

[00:10:50] Brian: We need to be reminded more than we need to be taught. that if it takes more than passion, then I have to do the things that I'm not passionate about. And so when I see the episodes that Brian puts out every other day or every [00:11:00] few days, that is something that I'm not particularly interested in, but I know I need to do that thing. Listen to the episode, at least listen to it. Doesn't mean you have to do it, but at least listen to the episode and I'll skip to some of the other things that I had planned out. Cause I have a lot of these, but have sales basics. So for those of you who suck at sales, you are allergic to sales, or have a sales allergy.

[00:11:17] Brian: I have topics around that. So, Calls, proposals, qualifying leads, following up just basics there. Like what are the basic terms even? And then just miscellaneous things like time management. How do you deal with overwhelm, balancing creativity and business. So again, don't feel like you need to consume every single episode.

[00:11:32] Brian: Pick and choose what's relevant. But this is why I'm segmenting these into the smaller bite size episodes. So here's what I want you to do at this point. If the rest of the series is already out, maybe listening to this episode in the future, or you're listening to this later in the week when the first episode in the series is already out, which is episode 2 51, go listen to that.

[00:11:46] Brian: But when you're done with binging through the series, which is what I want a lot of people to do, just binge through the series, take it all in through osmosis, listen to my voice, listen to the sound of what I'm saying. And maybe you'll be a smarter, because I promise you a lot of this stuff is just me researching it as I get to it [00:12:00] and saying, I didn't know that.

[00:12:01] Brian: and I'll tell you when I'm there, I will not bullshit you and say like, I'm a big expert in this and you should listen to me. I'll tell you when I've just learned these things, I promise you. but if there's a topic that you want to hear more about, or a topic that you think you want me to cover that I didn't say in my outline, just there, just email me podcast six figure creative.com. That's the number six podcast@sixfigurecreative.com. Email me with your thoughts and feedback or ideas for episodes.

[00:12:25] Brian: That is the only call to action I have for this episode. so keep a lookout for the next episode in the series. That's all I have for you in this short but sweet episode 250 is just, just cast a vision for this Back to basic series. I feel like I've been in a bit of a slump for the show a little bit because I've been so focused on hiring for the six figure creative then training the new team.

[00:12:44] Brian: I've got a lot in store for what we're doing in 2023 and beyond, and I think this series is a really good kickstart as we progress through 2023, and I hope to get a lot of mileage outta this because there's so much I wanna cover here. So hopefully this is as intriguing and interesting of an idea to you as it is to me.

[00:12:58] Brian: I love the idea of just [00:13:00] going back to basics.

[00:13:01] Brian: Admitting to myself that I don't know everything and that I skipped a lot of things along the way. That's just kind of my style, and if you are that way as well, you will get a lot out of this series. So that is it for this week. again, email me podcast six figure creative.com with your ideas or your opinions, I would love to hear from you.

[00:13:17] Brian: Until next time, thank you so much for listening to the six Figure Creative Podcast.

Recent Podcast Episodes...

Episode art

How To Budget When Your Income Is Inconsistent

Ever had a $20k month followed by a $1,200 month? Freelancing can be a wild ride. Even with solid client acquisition, those feast-or-famine cycles can stress anyone out.   In our latest podcast episode, we're...

Listen Now