Originally published on July 16, 2013 @ 7:58 am
If there's one piece of advice you'll hear over and over and over again, it's this: if you want to be a successful freelance writer, you have to be confident.
And if there one piece of advice I hope you'll ignore, it's this: if you want to be a successful freelance writer, you have to be confident.
Don't get me wrong — confidence is important. I one hundred percent agree.
But until you learn how to build up that confidence as a freelance writer, you're going to have to succeed without it. Because what's the alternative?
It is virtually impossible for most of us to be confident when we're new to freelance writing. There are just too many unknowns:
- Where am I getting my first clients from?
- Will I be able to maintain steady work?
- What do I do if a client skips out without paying me?
- How will I pay for health insurance?
- What if I'm charging too much?
- What if I'm not charging enough?
- What if I fail?
- What if I succeed? Then what?
And then there's my all-time favorite: what if I'm not as good as I think I am?
Ugh – that one cuts right to the heart, doesn't it?
Here's the thing: all of these fears are normal. Completely normal.
And I'll tell you something else: every single successful freelance writer out there has these feelings from time to time. And we all started out with these feelings. I've never met a successful freelance writer who said they were confident right out of the gate.
You Don't Need to be Confident to be a Successful Freelance Writer: You just Need to Exude Confidence.
You know what they say: fake it till you make it.
Now, there are some things you just can't fake. You can't fake being a good writer – you can only work and learn until you are a good writer. You can't fake being good at time management, or meeting deadlines, or even running ads.
What you can fake is how confident you are.
When it comes to your confidence, no one knows just how confident you are (or aren't) until you tell them.
Unless they're mind readers — in that case, all bets are off.
But, presuming the clients you're talking to aren't actually mind readers, they can only really go by what you tell them. And whether you're emailing them, talking to them over social media, or responding to them over messenger, even your body language can't give you away.
How can you Exude Confidence if You're Not Feeling it?
First, identify the fears that are affecting your confidence. Are you afraid because you don't have a lot of experience? Or because you're headed into uncharted territory and you aren't sure how to best prepare yourself? Or simply because this is all so new to you?
Knowing the answers to this question will help you put together your action plan.
Next, study your mission statement.
If you haven't written a mission statement yet, then write one.
A mission statement is more than your why – it's your vision for your freelance writing business. It's the blueprint for what you're trying to build.
- What is your purpose?
- Who is your purpose?
- What problem are you solving?
Take that mission statement, and create your vision from it.
- How will fulfilling your purpose feel?
- What experience will the clients you serve describe?
- How will you know when you've solved the problem?
- What will success look like?
And your vision might not just be about your freelance writing business. My vision includes me being at home when my kids need me – never missing a meal, never missing homework time, never missing a bedtime. This is the future I aimed for, and now this is the future I aim to keep.
Talk to your Clients
No one knows the impact you've had on their businesses and lives better than your clients — so who better to tell you about it than them?
Reach out to your clients and ask for their opinion – but be specific. Don't just ask them to leave you a review because half of them won't have time and the other half will leave something vague like “did the job and exceeded expectations.”
Well, that's nice, but it's not exactly impactful. They could be writing about a jar of peanut butter.
Instead of asking for a review, ask them how your writing has impacted their business. Have they gotten more sales? More traffic? Did you save them time so they could focus on other things?
Believe me, nothing quite boosts the confidence like hearing straight from your clients the type of impact you've had on them.
Practice Confident Answers
Which one sounds more confident to you? “I think I can handle that,” or “I can have it to you by [date].“?
How about “I think I would be a good fit for your blog,” or “I am a good fit for your blog.”?
We spend a lot of time downplaying our skills and abilities – playing “humble.” We're so caught up in not bragging that we've actually trained ourselves to act as if we don't believe in ourselves.
This is where “fake it till you make it” is really going to help you out. Imagine how a confident person would answer a question – and give that answer. Imagine what a confident person would say about their writing skills, and describe your skills the same way.
Imagine what a confident writer would put into his or her bio, and write that.
You have to start retraining yourself to believe in your skills, and that is going to take some time. You've spent years pretending your abilities and skills weren't all that great, weren't the best, could be better… and now you need to convince a client that those same skills are great, that you are the best, and that yes you could be better but that's why you're learning.
Writing, like any exercise, gets easier the more you do it. I hate to use the old cliche “like riding a bike…” but, yea, think of it like riding a bike. It takes a lot of effort at first, you're not sure you can do it, and your whole balance feels off. But the more and more you do it, the easier it gets until you can do it without really thinking about it.
Writing is the same way. The more you do it, the better you will be at it and the more confident you will feel about doing it.
Take some Courses
What things do you need to know to be a successful freelance writer?
- How to run a business?
- How to find clients?
- How to get started?
- How to write better emails?
- How to write faster?
- How to handle your taxes?
You're already a great writer – so what will it take to make you a successful writer? Think on that a bit, then put together an action plan so you can get there.
Confidence is an Important Part of Success
However, it's not required for you to get started. And you can certainly become a successful freelance writer while still battling those sudden drops in confidence.
So if you're not feeling confident just yet, don't let that deter you. Jump in scared to death like so many freelance writers have done before you. You can absolutely succeed – even if you can't see it just yet.
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