6 Tips for When You Need More Luck as a Freelancer
Are you lucky enough?
Successful freelancer Lindy Alexander and research on luck show that we have more control over our own luck than most of us we think we do. Learn how Lindy created her own luck and 6 ways that you can increase your luck.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Lindy Alexander made more than $100,000 in her first 11 months as a full-time freelancer. When she realized how well she was doing and how much she had learned, Lindy felt lucky. But Lindy’s luck didn’t come from finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, or filling her office with horseshoes or four-leaf clovers.
It came from creating her own luck.
Lindy is a freelance travel, food and lifestyle writer who lives in Victoria, Australia and specializes in food, lifestyle, business, and travel. She launched her full-time freelance business in 2017, after freelancing part-time for six years.
In “How to increase your luck as a freelance writer,” Lindy highlighted the many ways she has been lucky, including:
- Being on Twitter at just the right time to see an editor’s request for pitches for an issue of the publication
- Having a freelance friend who recommended her to an editor
- Re-establishing contact with an editor who then commissioned her to write a story
- Being able to do what she loves for a living.
None of these things happened by chance.They happened because Lindy thought like a lucky person and took the actions of a lucky person. And she studied Richard Wiseman’s work on the science of luck.
What is Luck?
“Luck has the power to transform the improbable into the possible, to make the difference between life and death, reward and ruin, happiness and despair,” says Wiseman. A psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, Wiseman is also the author of The Luck Factor.
Definitions of luck include:
“Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” (English Oxford dictionary)
“good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance” (Dictionary.com)
I added the bold type on apparently and considered—because as Lindy and I know, and as Wiseman proved in his research, we have more control over our own luck than most of us we think we do.
What Happened When People Went to “Luck School”
Wiseman studied 400 people who described themselves as exceptionally lucky or unlucky. In a 10-year series of experiments called “Luck School,” Wiseman had participants fill out diaries, take personality and intelligence tests, and take part in laboratory experiments.
In one experiment, people counted the number of photos in a newspaper. It took the unlucky people about two minutes to do this, but the lucky people were done in a few seconds.
Were the lucky people naturally faster than the unlucky people?
Lucky people spotted opportunity
No. But they paid more attention to their task and noticed the message on page 2 that said: “Stop counting – There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The message took up half of the page and the type was 2” high. “It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it,” says Wiseman.
“To a large extent, people make their own good and bad fortune,” concluded Wiseman.
Unlucky people learned how to be luckier
Luck School taught unlucky people how to act more like lucky people do. This worked:
- 80% of people said that their luck had increased.
- People estimated that their luck had increased by more than 40%, on average
- People were happier.
What Lucky People Do
Here are six tips on increasing your luck, based on the four basic principles Wiseman identified that lucky people use to “generate their own good fortune.”
1. Look for Luck.
“Sometimes luck is something you can spot, if you allow yourself to look for it. But more often than not, luck is about learning where to find an opportunity,” says Deep Patel in “10 Proven Ways to Make Your Own Luck.”
Lucky people have more chance opportunities than unlucky people. For example, Lindy loves travel writing but just the thought of being on the ocean makes her seasick. Still, she introduced herself to an editor who works mostly on cruise-related publications, through LinkedIn.
“I sent her a quick message with an invitation to connect and she wrote back immediately saying that she was looking for a Victorian food and travel writer who could write a story for one of their publications,” says Lindy. This story was a perfect fit for Lindy, and she got the assignment.
Trying new things, even if they’re uncomfortable at first, increases the number of chance opportunities you’ll have. Wiseman found that many of the lucky participants went out of their way to try new things. “When we put ourselves out there, we welcome chance into our lives,” says Patel.
2. Listen to Your Intuition.
Nearly 80% of the people Wiseman studied said that acting on their intuition was crucial in their careers. While intuition is defined as “a keen and quick insight,” that insight comes mostly from what you already know, along with what you feel is right.
Trust your instincts to guide you. When a client asks you to work on a type of project you haven’t done before, say yes (as long as your gut instinct says you can do a good job).
If something doesn’t seem right about a client or a project, just say no. While losing the freelance project or money can be scary, it never turns out well when you don’t listen to your intuition. And by saying no to one client or project, you open yourself up to more chance opportunities and better clients and projects.
3. Be More Outgoing.
Extroverts tend to be luckier than introverts, because they meet more people, says Wiseman. In business, meeting more people means networking. “One of the fastest and best ways to garner more luck is to put yourself out there and meet more people, because people bring connections and connections bring opportunity,” says Patel.
Networking is one of the keys to freelance success, because clients want to do business with freelancers they know and trust—or people referred by people they know and trust.
But networking is stressful or even scary for many freelancers. Most of us think we’re introverts. Actually, most of us are ambiverts, a blend of introvert and extrovert.
“I am not an extrovert by any means,” says Lindy. “While I love being with people, I feel drained by large groups and lots of talking, and need time alone to recharge. I think I’m probably an ambivert.”
If you’re an ambivert like Lindy and me, networking is easier than if you’re truly an introvert. If you are an introvert, shifting your attitude from “I hate networking” to “I can do this” will help—a lot! As Wiseman found, if you think you can be a good networker (if you have positive expectations) you will be a good networker (you’ll create a self-fulfilling prophesy).
And there’s never been a better time for introverts to freelance. “We tend to think of networking as sharing a drink in a crowded place with people, but actually networking is about building genuine relationships and you can do that via social media and email,” says Lindy.
Whether you’re an ambivert or an introvert, at live networking events it’s okay to take some time for yourself. Step out of the room for a few minutes during a networking event or take a few hours away from a conference to take a walk, have a quiet meal alone, or even hide in your hotel room. Lindy and I both do this.
Take The Quiet Revolution Personality Test to find out whether you’re an introvert, ambivert, or maybe even an extrovert.
Stay in touch with key contacts
Lucky people also keep in touch with the people they meet. That’s crucial, because if clients don’t think of you first when they need a freelancer and colleagues don’t think of your first when they have a freelance project to refer, the work will go to another freelancer.
“I found that when I made a conscious decision to get to know more writers and also keep in touch with editors and clients, I got lucky,” says Lindy.
Many freelancers miss out on working with great clients because they never or rarely follow up.
Learn more about keeping in touch with key contacts
4. Expect Good Things to Happen.
Be optimistic. Lucky people think that good things will happen to them. Wiseman found that these positive expectations turned into self-fulfilling prophesies. To put this more simply, we usually get what we expect to get (good or bad).
Optimism, or positive thinking, is especially important for freelancers, because we have more than our share of challenges and disappointments. If you think positive, it will be easier to bounce back from the inevitable problems and disappointments of freelance life.
“You’re more likely to try new things, follow through on opportunities and have them succeed if you believe they’ll work out well,” says Erik Barker, in “How to become luckier, according to science.”
And a positive attitude is contagious. Clients want to work with freelancers who are positive and colleagues want to refer work to us. We don’t have to work as hard to build our businesses because clients and colleagues are naturally drawn to us.
5. Increase Your Luck with Resilience and Grit.
No matter how optimistic you are, things will still go wrong sometimes. If you have resilience and grit, you can turn bad luck into good luck.
“When things get tough you’ve got two choices: You can either fold or you can keep going,” says Wiseman. “Lucky people are very resilient.”
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from problems or bad luck. Grit is the ability to keep going until your reach your goals. It’s also called determination or mental toughness.
Freelancers who succeed aren’t luckier than freelancers who struggle. We’re simply determined to succeed and willing to do the work to push through the obstacles and bad luck that all freelancers face.
Learn more about grit
6. Work Hard.
Lucky people work hard. If you read Lindy’s blog, The Freelancer’s Year, it’s clear that she is determined to succeed and is backing up this determination with hard work. The Freelancer’s Year offers “tips, strategies, and guides about how to write what you love and earn what you’re worth.”
The harder you work, the more luck you’ll have
When I started my business, I bought a silver cup engraved with this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have of it.”
I put that cup on my desk where I saw it every time I looked up from my computer. My good luck charm worked.
The harder I worked, the luckier I was. Like Lindy, I soon had a six-figure freelance business.
82 percent of lucky people are prepared to work hard, according to Wiseman’s research. But unlucky people think they’ll be unlucky no matter how hard they work.
Yes, You Can Increase Your Luck
“Luck is actually much more malleable than we think. You can, in fact, create your own luck,” says Lindy.
Start creating your own luck today with the science-backed tips in this blog post and the resources below.
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Learn More about Luck, the Freelance Success Mindset, and Lindy
Lindy Alexander, How to increase your luck as a freelance writer
Richard Wiseman, The Luck Factor
Deep Patel, 10 Proven Ways to Make Your Own Luck
Erik Barker, How to become luckier, according to science
Articles about the Freelance Success Mindset from The Mighty Marketer
The Freelancer’s Year, Lindy’s blog
3 Industry Specialties, 1 Successful Freelance Business, Mighty Marketer blog post
How 3 Freelancers Found Success by Finding Time for Marketing, Mighty Marketer blog post