I Want to Become a Freelance Writer, But…

I hear this all the time:

“I want to become a freelance writer, but…”

Usually there are a list of ‘buts.’

  • I don’t think my writing is good enough
  • I should take some more courses first
  • I don’t know where I would find clients
  • I don’t know where to start
  • I need to ______ first
  • I need to wait until _______
  • I’m not self-disciplined enough
  • I don’t think I could make enough money
  • I have a hard time promoting myself
  • I don’t have the time to pursue it

What’s your “but?”

You probably have your own list. Everyone does. Some of the “buts” are quite legitimate. But…

(great word isn’t it?)

…most of these can be addressed and moved off the list with a little help. I’m not going to try address all of them here, but I would like to take on some of the top “buts” on the list. Let’s start with the first one on the list –

“I don’t think my writing is good enough.”

This is an interesting one. On one hand, you might be right. But if you love to write, it probably isn’t so bad that it couldn’t be polished up and made better. Some people who say this to me write great. The problem isn’t their writing, it’s their thinking. “I don’t think…”

They’re comparing their writing with someone else’s who writes better. But comparison goes two ways. Have you tried comparing yours to someone who writes worse than you do? As with most talents, there will always be those who are better than you and those who are not as good as you are. Besides, writing skills aren’t the only criteria to become a freelance writer and succeed at it. A client once told me this:

“I’ve hired writers who write better than you, but I couldn’t rely on them to get the work done on time. I’d rather have a little lower quality writer that is reliable than one who writes perfectly but can’t meet their deadlines.”

The best way to improve you writing is to write more. Start where you’re at and work at getting better.

“I’m not self-disciplined enough”

Hogwash!

I can’t maintain a routine to save my soul. My desk (along with many other parts of my house) is a mess. The “I don’t have the time to pursue it” excuse fits in this same category. The answer is the same for both: we spend time on the things that – 1. We enjoy. 2. Are important to us. It isn’t discipline you’re lacking, it’s motivation. You either don’t want to become a freelance writer badly enough (and that’s okay) or you are afraid to pursue it for some reason. Afraid you might fail, perhaps? Or…?

“I don’t think I could make enough money.”

That depends on how much is “enough.” My first year as a full-time freelancer I made as much as I had been making at my office job. Others have done much better and much worse. There are plenty of freelancers out there that are openly sharing how much they make each month or in a year, many of them making more than I do. Again, it is up to you and your willingness to pursue the higher paying work and deliver the quality that’s required for that type of pay. Even a mediocre writer can make a living writing content, plenty do. If you write well, and particularly if you can specialize in a well-paying niche, you can make a very good living if you choose to become a freelance writer.

“I don’t know where I would find clients.”

I started pursuing freelance writing in 2010. I had no clue as to where or how to find clients. But I figured it out. Today, you can do a Google search and have pages upon pages of links to blogs and websites that will help answer that question for you (you’re on one right now). There is no shortage of clients for freelance writers. It is just a matter of finding the right clients.

“I have a hard time promoting myself.”

This is a big one for most people.

“Hey! Hire me! I am the best writer in the world.”

Few people would feel comfortable saying that about themselves, even if they believed it. Plus, few people would hire you if you did.

Nevertheless, freelance writing is a business, and you do have to market your business in order to be successful. You have to contact potential clients and tell them why they should hire you over all the other writers out there.

How do you do that and be sincere, honest and not feel like you’re being braggadocios?

Figuring out the answer to that question was probably one of the key factors in my success as a freelance writer. It is also one of the biggest “buts” holding people back who truly could be successful, full-time freelance writers.

I can tell you how to properly accomplish this (which was a huge accomplishment for this quiet, INFP, creative introvert). But….  (are you loving that word yet?)

BUT…even if I tell you how, most of you will still have trouble doing it. Why?

Well, I know the why, but this post is getting a bit long and the answer, though it could be encapsulated in one word, deserves a more thorough vetting.

What would be the one word you would use to answer the “why” behind our hesitance to promote ourselves properly?

Put it in the comments. (Please?)

Let’s see how many put the word I am going to address in my next blog post.

BTW: I’m having lunch with someone next week to help answer their questions about how to become a freelance writer. She gets this special access to me because she’s one of the “special people.”  “Special” because she is on my email subscriber list and has been for a couple of years. Those “special people” can call on me to answer their questions anytime, plus I send them stuff I don’t put out here for the public. {Secret stuff!}

Yeah, you might want to sign up and see what it’s all about.

4 Comments I Want to Become a Freelance Writer, But…

  1. Lisa Fourman

    When I first started my freelancing career, I had a problem with self-confidence. I know you listed that already in another form but yeah…that’s what I had a problem with. That and charging what I’m worth. I keep short-changing myself and falling victim to what the client thinks is a better price, which means I’m getting paid a lot less than I feel like I could have been to start with. I need to stand firmer in my prices and that’s my goal for July when I start talking to new prospects. Thank you for such an awesome post, Kathleen!

    Reply
    1. Kathleen Krueger

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read it, Lisa. I started out just taking whatever a client would pay (within reason). It took me a long time to have the confidence in myself and the supply of work available to start setting my own prices.

      Reply
  2. Nicole Stracek

    I think some people have a difficult time articulating their skills- I know that I struggle with knowing how to promote myself in a way that will allow me to “stick out” enough to be hired. I used to help people write their resumes- one of the things that I always asked for was a detailed list of every single thing they did, even if it was turning off the lights at night. When they asked me “why” – I would answer with, “Turning out the lights meant you closed the business? Which translates to responsibility and commitment. Sometimes it’s all in the way you word things and believing in yourself! So- my one word would be “insecure”.

    Reply
    1. Kathleen

      Excellent point, Nicole. And it is usually easier for us as writers to articulate those things for others than for ourselves, isn’t it.

      Reply

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