Optimism in business is hard to come by. Inflation and the stress of pandemics, natural disasters, economic downturn, and the changeable nature of the world we live in is hitting everyone. And that’s bringing some pretty dark messages out online.
Shame and frustration are all over the internet these days. Even freelancers can go overboard with the negativity. LinkedIn is a classic example of this. A lot of freelance posts trying to be lessons sound like they belong in a “my horror client” Jerry Springer episode.
I know it feels good to let that pressure go. To talk about the poor client behaviour in honest terms. To maybe pass it off as a teachable moment as your fellow freelancers relate hard in the comments section. I’ve done it, too.
But it doesn’t matter if your freelance buddies cheer you on. Sometimes, it creates more problems than it’s worth. Talking about unwanted client behaviour can be helpful and cathartic. But if not handled correctly, it can lead to unintended consequences, like client shame. Or they could view you as confrontational, or the freelance industry as unsympathetic.
People are stressed out of their brain and tired. It’s why they’re crankier on the internet. But that also means they are more likely to be sensitive to negativity. When we’re tired, we’re all far more likely to react, withdraw, or even view someone negatively based on smaller incidences.
Plus, asking for help is an act of vulnerability. Our clients are nervous because they’re vulnerable, risking money, time, and to admit defeat against whatever task they are hiring us to complete.
Are they really going to trust freelancers if they see “oh no he didn’t” social media posts?
Time for a little business optimism
If you check most of the 2024 business forecasts, organisations are listing rapidly changing technology, regulation and industry guidelines, and a lack of education and skilled labour shortage in their top ten challenges. I profiled many of them in this blog for the Patreon supporters.
Our clients already know they’re in over their head. They know the knowledge gap has gotten away from them. They probably won’t react well to seeing posts that make fun of negative behaviours, and will see too much of themselves in it.
What everyone needs is a little more hope and help, wouldn’t you say?
Social media platforms are (not so) secretly tweaking their signals to invite more optimism. They’ve identified part of why people are leaving the social landscape is because of the negativity. I suggest we follow suit.
Forget punching down commentary on clients or problems.
Instead, channel a little Only Murders in the Building charm and live one of Steve Martin’s best quotes “A joke is best when it’s played on oneself”.
And let’s leave big-haired, big fisted social media drama behind.
What you can do to leverage business optimism during a negative time like inflation years:
- Offer DIY educational content, coaching products, and courses
- Take clients behind the scenes on your tools, tricks and techniques
- Use empathy for their situation and challenges in your marketing
- Create opportunities to learn from you via webinars and Q&A content
- Explain unwanted client behaviour in a proactive and solution-orientated way
- Address knowledge gaps with step-by-step how-to content
And remember what it’s like to ask for help, especially when you don’t exactly know what help looks like. After all, we’re all faces challenges. Why not share the burden of inflation, stress, knowledge gaps and other problems together?
Want more content on client management and business optimism? Check out the Freelance Jungle blog now.