How to stop feeling like a fraud

I sometimes feel like a fraud even though I'm not.

When I start feeling that way, I can literally feel my business halt in its tracks. I start rethinking every system I have in place and every goal I've set for the year. I can't bring myself to publish a blog post because I imagine someone will jump out from behind a digital curtain and yell 'You don't know what you're talking about!'

This fraudulent feeling is often known as imposter syndrome; feeling like a fraud when you're not.

Feeling like a fraud is an icky feeling.

Creative entrepreneurs sometimes feel like frauds when...

  • A client is unhappy and they feel awful about it. 
  • They see others doing the same amount of work but earning x3 what they earn and they start to doubt their skills and capabilities.
  • They see other bloggers growing exponentially and start comparing themselves to those bloggers.
  • They want to call themselves an expert but don't feel like one, they just feel like a mess.

Have you ever felt like that?

This feeling occurs in every creative at some point! 

Feeling like a fraud as a freelancer, creativepreneur or blogger is a major issue because it can stop your business from growing.

Research shows that women feel like frauds more often than men because we internalize things and blame ourselves for every mistake that happens in our businesses. 

Sound familiar? I bet it does.

Over the three years I've been in business, I've learned a few ways to deal with imposter syndrome. Sure, I still feel like a fraud from time to time. But I know now that I can ride the Fraud Wave and confidently come out the other side. Want to do the same?

15 ways to conquer imposter syndrome:

1. Accept who you are.
You are beautiful and unique. You're also imperfect. You're going to make mistakes from time to time and they're going to make you feel like you're a fraud. Just because you feel that way doesn't mean it's true.

2. Talk to others who feel the same way.
I wouldn't rush into a Facebook group of 3000 potential clients and announce that you feel a fraud because that could cause some leads to think you lack in confidence, and it could stop people hiring you. Instead, join a private mastermind group and tell them how you feel. The Shelancers Club has under 200 members none of us are really potential clients for the other group members. This allows us to feel totally comfortable admitting our faults and expressing our deepest feelings to the group. When you talk to others who feel or have felt the same way, you hand some of the burden over to them and you instantly feel better. It's true what they say- a problem shared is a problem halved.

Related post: 10 tips for Skyping with clients or friends

3. Successful people feel like frauds, too.
If you think you're the only creativepreneur who feels like a fraud, think again. Successful people in your industry feel like frauds. Even famous people feel like frauds!

I highly recommend listening to this Being Boss podcast on feeling like a fraud. The hosts, Kathleen and Emily, are well-known creatives and who run the successful design businesses, have multiple employees, and work with badass clients. Yet they admitted they sometimes feel like frauds. 

Cath Kidston, an extremely popular fashion designer who turns over £70 million per annum and has 61 shops in the UK, writes in her latest book 'When you're self taught you always feel like you will be found out.' Even a designer who is so wildly popular in the UK suffers from imposter syndrome sometimes.

4. Keep a Success Log.
Even though you're imperfect and you sometimes make mistakes in your business, you also do a lot of things right. Own them. Be proud of your successes.

It's all too easy to forget about our successes, but we shouldn't. Our successes are keeping us in business.

I like to keep a notebook in Evernote called My Success Log. Every time I reach a milestone or do something amazing for my business, I log it down. Then when I'm feeling bad about myself or my business, I look at the notes in my success log. Works every time!

5. Keep a Happy Folder.
This is similar to a success log. In your email inbox, create a folder called Happy Mail. Then when you receive a happy note from one of your readers or clients, store it in the happy folder. 

When you're having a bad day its helpful to read through all the wonderful things people have written to your over time. It pushes you to overcome your fraudulent feelings and continue growing your business!

6. Delete hate mail.
Haters are gonna hate (try and read that without bursting into Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, I dare you.) Some people just like being spiteful. Some people despise your success and will look for any mistake they can call you out on. 

Try not to let it get to you.

If you let a hater spoil your happiness, they've pretty much won. So here's the thing: don't dignify hate mail with a response. Simply delete it and get on with your awesome day, because if you don't, hate mail can start causing you to feel like a fraud. Like someone who doesn't deserve all the great things you've worked so hard to have!

7. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Imposter syndrome often begins with comparing yourself to others. I've done this myself! When I see Income Reports from people in my industry who are having $8000 months, I feel totally jealous. And that leads to me feeling like a fraud because I'm not making the same amount of money as them, so I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

It is sometimes healthy to compare yourself to others because it can push you to achieve more.

But try not to focus on others. There's no point in focusing on someone who is at a different stage to you. They may have been in business for 5 years and you may have only been in business for 1. You can't possibly expect to play in their league in just a 1/5 of the time it took them to get there.

Focus on self improvement. It doesn't matter what other people in your niche are doing, the only thing that matters is you and your progress.

Related post: Here's why you're not achieving your goals.

8. Give yourself a break.
You're a human being who makes mistakes! You're imperfect! Deal with it. We are all imperfect. That doesn't make us all frauds.

9. Take an actual break.
If you can't shake your imposter syndrome, step away from your screen and take a break. Whether it's just an afternoon coffee break at a local cafe, a whole day spent in front of the TV, or a week away in a peaceful village. It doesn't matter. Just get away from your business and give yourself time to calm down and accept that you're not a fraud. Often, a little break is all that is needed to help you feel better about yourself and your business.

10. Boost your confidence.
Feeling like a fraud has a lot to do with your self-confidence. If you doubt your capabilities or expertise, imposter syndrome with undoubtedly kick in. Try boosting your confidence and self-esteem by hopping on Skype with a business friend, providing valuable advice to people who need it (people ask for advice in Facebook groups ALL the time and YOU could help them!) or writing a blog post about how you feel and listing steps you can take to overcome your feelings.\

Related post: 

11. Recognize that making mistakes doesn't make you a fraud.
I've already said this but I'm going to say it again: you're an imperfect human being. You're going to make mistakes. You should recognize and accept this, and so should your blog readers and your clients. 

Making mistakes doesn't mean you're a fraud. It simply means you have a issue to fix and opportunities to grow.

Embrace your mistakes. When you do, you'll no longer feel like a fraud.

12. Acknowledge that everyone is faking it.
You've heard of the saying 'fake it till you make it' right? Here's a little secret: everyone is faking it. No one has everything figured out and nothing else to learn. If someone thinks they do, they're the one who is the fraud.

Everyone is faking it. No one has everything figured out and nothing else to learn. - Tweet this

13. Recognize that you're stopping your loyal followers from learning from you.
When you feel like a fraud, you usually stop creating stuff because you feel like the stuff you create isn't perfect or viable. That's not true. Even if you feel like you're creating content that is already out there and written by someone else who is ten times better than you, you have to remember that there are lots of people who love your point of view. They want to read what you write because of the unique spin you give it. Don't deny people that. 

14. Treat your business/blog as one big experiment.
Sometimes you'll get things right. Other things will totally fail (like course launches... Ugh). That's OK! Your business is one big experiment and some experiments go better than others. The main thing to remember is to never give up experimenting. That would be like giving up on finding love because you boyfriend dumped you. Everyone knows it's an unwise thing to do, because that one failure just opens the door for a success later down the line.

Related post: 5 lessons I learned from my first launch

15. Embrace your inner expert.
List all the things you're good at within your business. Maybe it's client communication? Writing awesome newsletters and blog posts? Cultivating a creative community? Helping people? Whatever it is, embrace it. Write it all down. You're an expert at all of these things. A unique expert. Don't forget that.

Still feel like a fraud?

That's OK. Some feelings are deeply engrained within us and they take a bit more work to eliminate. Go through the 15 steps above and try a few. If they work, come back here and leave me a comment telling me all about it!

Nesha Woolery

I build beautiful brands & websites for passionate entrepreneurs!