How to build confidence and self-esteem as a self-employed creative

Something that frequently comes up in my 1-1 mentoring sessions with freelance and self-employed creatives is the concept of confidence – specifically, how to build confidence and self-esteem. Often, I’m asked for tips and tricks to help people believe in themselves in order to launch their next big creative project.

It’s unfortunate that what appears to be holding so many people back from chasing their career dreams is a lack of self-confidence, but it’s not at all surprising. Social media is great for marketing our businesses and connecting with peers and potential clients, but it does tend to enable comparison culture, and it’s easy to feel self-conscious about your creative work when there’s so much to compare it with online.

The bad news is I don’t have any magic hacks for overcoming low self-esteem, but I do have a few pieces of advice for any creatives struggling with a lack of self-confidence.

Desk/dressing table area in room with table, stool and mirror
Image by Jemma Watts

How to build confidence and self-esteem as a self-employed creative: 5 top tips

1. Surround yourself with supportive people

A study, which explored self-esteem, common mental health problems, resilience and social support in early adolescence, revealed that social support is a protective factor for all health indicators, and provides individuals with higher self-esteem and a sense of higher social value. Of course, I’m assuming you aren’t an early adolescent if you’re pursuing a creative career, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience postitive effects from having a supportive community.

Speaking from experience, my family and my peers help to fill me with confidence every day (whether they’re aware of it or not). Shared advice, a supportive message, or even simply liking my content on Instagram goes a long way where my self-esteem is concerned.

If you haven’t yet found your community, use social media to your advantage. Search for specialised groups on Facebook, where people from your industry exchange words of wisdom and friendly comments, or reach out to people you’d like to connect with on Instagram. You can also join communities such as Inside Stylists, where you’ll get to meet others who work in the industry, plus many more perks.

2. Be mindful of your routine and behaviours

I don’t know about you, but I often experience a dip in self-confidence when I’m not rested enough. The same applies when I’m experiencing a period of low physical activity, and when I’m not being strict with my working habits (like starting early, working through lunches or checking emails late into the evening). I know that I feel my most confident when I’m taking good care of myself – when I’m getting lots of family and friend time in, eating a balanced and enjoyable diet, doing daily movement, and being strict about working hours.

I’d therefore encourage you, if you’re wondering how to build confidence, to take a look at your daily habits – is there anything that could be having a negative impact on the way you feel about yourself and your abilities? Set yourself up for success by implementing a routine that helps you feel your best.

3. Acknowledge and celebrate your wins

Running a business and being self-employed can be tough at times. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll fail from time to time – everybody does. It’s important not to get too hung up on your missteps, though. Instead, try to view them as learning opportunities, and focus on the wins – however small.

Celebrate the signed contracts and the successful projects, of course, but don’t neglect to acknowledge the tiny wins too, such as positive feedback or even just completing a task that you felt nervous about. When you consider mistakes to be lessons and you celebrate all of the positives, you’re more likely to believe in yourself.

4. Practice, practice, practice

You know what they say: practice makes perfect – and for me, at least, this is true. I tend to find that I feel least confident when I don’t feel as prepared as I would like. So, I always allow plenty of preparation time before a task that may cause me to experience a dip in confidence, whether that looks like hours spent researching how to best launch my latest service or learning the intricacies of a brand before I begin working with them.

Research tells us that, actually, a small amount of self-doubt can be a good thing – you don’t actually need to strive for perfection. But, having the confidence to get your idea off the ground or pursue your goal in the first place is important.

5. How to build confidence: Upskill with Pip’s Learning Academy

Knowing the difficulties fellow creatives are having in running their businesses, I recently created Pip’s Learning Academy – a series of 11 short courses for freelance and self-employed creatives.

Drawing from my own experiences as a self-employed interior stylist and art director for upwards of 20 years, the short courses address all the areas I had trouble navigating when I first went freelance. In essence: it’s the help I wish I had 25 years ago. One of the courses covers how to build confidence in detail – from mindset to insight into how other creatives have overcome confidence dips.

The courses are launching on Tuesday 9th January. Join my mailing list to receive a reminder nearer the time.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my tips for marketing your business on a budget and negotiating a higher fee as a self-employed creative.


Meet Pippa

Pippa Jameson is an author, tv designer and interiors expert. The previous interior editor on several leading UK titles, Pippa has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Throughout her 25-year career, Pippa’s unique and creative approach has won her commissions for large retail brands and celebrities to deliver exciting and engaging projects. 

She’s written the curriculum for the British College of Interior Design, produced and styled shoots for well-known brands including John Lewis, H&M & Team GB/DFS, worked as an International Stylist for leading paint brands in Asia, consulted on the launch and creative direction of major retail names including George Home and Wren, and most recently, published her first book, The Sensory Home. Pippa possesses expertise unmatched in the interior industry.