Is the growth of your freelance business invisible?

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This is a guest post by Rebekah Mays, the owner of Thrive Copywriting. She helps sustainable and purpose-driven brands grow their leads and sales through SEO content strategy and writing. You can learn more about her and her growing community of conscientious marketers at


It’s one of the fastest growing plants in the world. Some bamboo species can grow up to three feet in one day. Crazy, right?

But bamboo doesn’t start out this way. 

In fact, the first year a bamboo plant is put into the ground, nothing much seems to be happening. 

To the naked eye, the growth is invisible. But the growth is there. It’s just underground, while the plant’s root system is developing.

Each year, the new bamboo plant puts out new “shoots.” Each of these shoots puts out new shoots of their own.

A few years later after planting, a whole bamboo grove has formed. By then, the growth is visible and obvious to everyone who walks by.

Under the surface

In the early years of your freelance creative business, you’ll probably feel like a new bamboo plant.

“This was supposed to be quick!” you might think. “I thought I’d have dozens of clients by now.” 

And if you are far from meeting your income goals, it might feel like nothing is happening. 

But actually, the growth is there – It’s just under the surface where your roots are getting established. 

More than likely, growth is happening in all sorts of ways. But to see it, you have to be paying close attention … and you definitely need to be patient.

Is the growth really there?

So how do you know if the growth is there and just “invisible” … or if nothing is really happening?

Here are three signs that indicate you and your business really are growing.

#1: You’re getting more clarity

In the early phases of a freelance creative business, so many things can feel murky. 

Getting clarity on what you’re doing, who you’re trying to reach, and what works best for your business is a huge sign of growth. 

Every little bit of clarity is a gift, and will allow you to take the next steps in your business.

#2: You are making progress with your “internal goals”

If you’re making progress with your “internal goals,” then you’re definitely growing.

Internal goals are the actions you can directly control – like sending out your freelance newsletter, writing a proposal for a prospect, or using software to track your time.

Too often, freelancers put most of our expectations on the results we want – our external goals. The problem is, we don’t spend as much time or attention on the action we need to take to reach these goals.

If you’re clear on your internal goals and taking action on them regularly, you’re growing. 

#3: You are learning from every experience

Mistakes are inevitable in all stages of our business. And they’re not even a bad thing, as long as we learn from our mistakes and missteps.

And just as we learn from what’s not working, we need to learn from what is. With every victory, reflect on how it happened, and repeat the process if you can.

If you’re doing this — learning from every experience and adapting your business along the way — you’re certainly growing.

Appreciate the invisible growth

Time is a huge factor in the growth of bamboo plants … and in your freelance business, too.

There are ways to speed up growth. But you can’t cheat time. 

What we can do is allow ourselves to appreciate and facilitate the “invisible growth” – all that quiet, internal, unglamorous work that’s at the root of it all. 

Do this, and chances are that one day, you’ll be able to enjoy your own beautiful, strong bamboo grove – your thriving freelance business.

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