Starting Out

What is the One Thing that’s Stopping Your Freelance Business?

If you’ve dreamed of becoming a freelancer but still never taken the leap, it’s time to get honest with yourself about why. If you really get to the core of why it still remains only a dream, you’ll find that the reason is simple –

It’s FEAR.

What is the One Thing that’s Stopping Your Freelance Business?

Sure you can rationalize it and create reasons.

I can’t quit my job because I have a family to feed.

I don’t have any savings to fall back on while I get started.

I have bills to pay and need a secure income.

Not that these aren’t valid concerns, but there’s a way around it. You can start by doing it part-time while staying in your full-time job until you build up enough clients and/or savings to eventually quit your job.

What all these excuses really boil down to is simply fear. Fear of not earning enough money. Fear of being a bad writer. Fear of failure. Fear of what your family and friends will think.

Fear is paralyzing. Fear stops us from doing many things in life and it will stop you from living your dream as a freelance writer.

Giving up a secure stable job is scary. But everything starts with a decision and then following through on it, even if it is scary. If not, nothing will change in your life.

Fear is paralyzing.

Once you do find the courage and take the leap, more panic strikes when you land that first client. Questions fly about your head. Do I know what I’m doing? Why would anyone pay me to do this? What if I do a lousy job and the client hates it?

This is the point that’s going to make or break you. It’s at this point that many wannabe freelance writers freeze and quit before they’ve even started.

They are petrified of taking the risk and putting themselves out there. They doubt their writing abilities. They are so afraid that clients will hate their work that they bail.

And what could have been the start of a great freelance writing career crashes and burns.

So how do you kick the fear?

Realize That it’s Normal

Every writer goes through it and it never completely goes away.

It is always lurking in the recesses of our mind.

Even the super successful ones aren’t entirely immune.

What is it that I’m talking about?

Imposter syndrome plagues many writers. They hit moments where they can’t believe people are paying them to string words together and fear that at any moment someone will discover that they are actually not very good at it and feel like a fraud.

Writers are just naturally prone to self-doubt and periodic dips in self-esteem. We question our talent and spent inordinate amounts of time flogging ourselves with self-criticism. We’re our own worst enemy.

Imposter syndrome plagues many writers.

Accept that Rejection is Par for the Course

Being a writer means living with rejection. All writers are rejected; you are not the only one.

The sooner you accept that, the easier your life will be. This is why becoming a freelance writer is not for the fainthearted. If rejection has you easily donning your sackcloth and finding the nearest pile of ash to sit on, then you have two choices – either keep your day job and give up the writing dream, or grow a thicker skin and roll with the punches.

In amongst all of the no’s there will be a few yes’s. That’s all you need. You just need a few clients to get started. Then you just need a few regular clients to maintain a decent income. It gets easier as you gain momentum.

Remember too that clients will not always do cartwheels over every piece of work you do. There will be times when clients love your work, and there will be times when clients are not happy. It’s all part of being a freelance writer.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

The difference between the writers making a living and the ones still stuck in their cubicle job is that those who became freelancers felt the fear and pushed through it.

When the panic of doing the job for that very first client hit, they sucked it up and wrote the heck out of that first piece of work. Their fingers may have been trembling when they hit the ‘send’ button on that email pitch, but they did it.

In the inimitable words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway!”

It just takes getting through that first client and you’re on your way.

Fake It ‘Till You Make It

It may take some time for your confidence to grow when you are starting out, but the key is not to show potential clients that you are a shaky newbie.

If you don’t have confidence in your skills, neither will they – so act confidently.

The key is not to show potential clients that you are a shaky newbie.

The same goes when applying for something out of your comfort zone. To break into certain markets, you will have to decide on whether to apply for a writing gig even though you don’t feel very confident of your knowledge of the topic.

Weigh up the situation and if you feel it is a topic you can quickly learn and understand, go for it and capitalize on any experience or knowledge you do have on the topic to sell yourself.

At the end of the day, those who are making a living writing are those who wanted it badly enough and found a way to achieve it even in the face of fear and all the challenges that go with being a freelancer. If they could do it, so can you.

Now, it’s over to you – tell us how you deal with imposter syndrome and kick fear to the curb.

Deevra Norling is a freelance content writer with a marketing and PR background. She covers topics such as career, small business, entrepreneurs, e-commerce, HVAC systems, car and driving-related content, travel, pets, and freelancing. Visit her website or connect with her on Twitter.

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Hi Sajib. Thanks for stopping by! I am glad you did not allow fear to stop you! I hope your writing career goes from strength to strength. 🙂Reply to Deevra
Hi Deevra, Great advices shared up there. You clearly explained what’s holding newbie writers from getting success. And yes, indeed, rejections are part of writing career. The sooner you get used to it, the better it’s for your career. Talking about fear, once it caught me so hard that my writing career was about to end before it starts. I remember those days when my hands would stop writing in fear of becoming a bad writer. I feared of rejections. My finger would freeze before sending pitches to editors. But luckily I saved myself from getting completely drowned in fear. I stayed calm and confident and washed it away. Yet “fear” knocks at my door once in a while to say hello. But I just ignore. I think writers has to constantly fight with it. But proficient writers win over fear quite easily. I’ll surely remember your tips to throw away fear from my head in future. Best Wishes SajibReply to Sajib
Taking the plunge and simply thinking about taking the leap can be scary enough, not to mention all the other things like money, fear of failure, etc. Couldn’t agree more about that. I remember my beginnings. I was so stressed out, frustrated and worried in the start but one thing’s clear, once you land your first couple of clients (and you will), it guarantee you it get’s easier. Don’t let your fears hold you back from doing something that can be so good and beneficial for you and your career!Reply to Job
Thank you for your great comment and giving anyone reading this and still nervous to take the plunge some more proof that it’s possible!Reply to Deevra
Thank Elna. I really do believe starting is the scariest part. Then it starts getting a bit easier! I think one should also make sure you increase your rates as soon as you can once you start getting some clips and not settle for low-ball rates. That’s fine to do when you start out and still need to build up a portfolio, but many writers tend to stay there for much longer than they have to because they seem to believe they are not yet worth getting paid more. Once you take that risk – sure it may not pay off with every potential client, but as with your experience – it did and now you can command better rates!Reply to Deevra
Deevra, What a great post with some applicable tips to overcome your fear. For me, I had a bout of imposter syndrome once I landed a high-paying client. I was shocked they wanted to pay me that much for only 500 words and a feature image. But now, this is the norm for me! Thanks for these tips! ElnaReply to Elna