It’s one of those gift-giving occasions of the year. Your younger self has been waiting for the perfect toy for oh-so-long. You asked for it, you begged for it. You even cleaned your room and helped mummy with her chores.

Finally, the big day comes. You unwrap the radio-controlled car (or a doll that says “Love you!” when you feed it). And you want to play straight away. You kind of need it – right now. Then, you notice the fine print on the shredded package.

Batteries not included. Geez.

Three tiny words, and excitement turns to despair.

Fast forward to adulthood. You validated your business idea, got a shiny website up and running. You even followed the “secrets steps” outlined in a flashy infographic or PDF guide to success-no-matter-what. And now you’re waiting for your inbox to explode with requests. For your newsletter to attract thousands in 30 days (or less). For your products to sell like candy. And you keep waiting.

Too bad you didn’t mind the fine print on the freelancing package. Magic bullets not included.

Four tiny words, and excitement turns to despair.

I get it – I really do. For it’s comforting to believe in some “secret sauce” to freelancing success we haven’t tried yet. A magic bullet that wins every customer that asks for a quote. But if you get stuck in the “magic bullet mentality”, you won’t get far. You’ll end up buying crappy “secrets to X” courses that don’t live up to the naming. And you’ll waste precious time in a hunt for non-existent secret formulas.

Here’s the thing: freelancing is hard work. Day in, day out.

Success isn’t about having stellar branding or a shiny Instagram account with posh pictures of your #homeoffice. It isn’t even about productivity, good habits or blue oceans. Those are part of a bigger picture. They can indeed help you attract more clients, and get things done efficiently – but they aren’t the magic bullet you crave for.


Perfect processes + no customers = Zero results
Plenty of customers + no skills = Zero results
Flashy branding + no substance = Zero results


Want to have a shot at success? Forget secrets, and start working hard.

Excel at what you do. Work on your hard skills every day.  Stop trying to “be yourself” by following somebody else’s exact steps. Be professional, reliable, and gracious. Get ready for failure, and learn from your mistakes.

Then, by all means, keep working on your soft skills too. Embrace best practices and an efficiency-oriented mindset. Improve your networking and negotiation skills. Use social media wisely to connect with prospects and peers.

Just keep in mind that those are tools and aids, not the secret ingredient of freelancing happiness.