Hundreds of guides exist to becoming a freelance writer, with online courses, step by step methods, even checklists of what to do and when.
But it’s not often you’ll hear any negative talk about being a freelancer. Of course, it is a pretty sweet gig, so that may be why.
But being a freelance writer does present unique challenges and unexpected emotions. If you’re considering becoming a freelance writer, or you’re already in too deep and are freaking out, take a deep breath and hear me out.
Rejection (and negative feedback) is hard to deal with.
Being a freelance writer will involve pitching for dozens of jobs that you won’t be hired for. You’ll write your perfect pitch, send out a zillion copies, and the rejections will start popping in.
It can be tough to read a form rejection letter and not ask yourself; What did I do wrong? Who actually got the job? How qualified are they? Did I make some huge mistake that will keep me from ever being hired again?
Then you might feel a little haughty about it; They don’t even know me! How dare they! Truth is, rejection is common. Being hired, while not rare, is decidedly less common.
Get used to getting no’s, and keep pitching for the yes’s!
Negative feedback can fall into this same painful gut-affecting area. You might wonder if you’re destined to fail at freelancing the first time you get an, ‘I’m not sure about this…’ from a client. But, I’m here to reassure you- you can fix this!
Part of my we should all work for free mantra is related to extra time spent on not-quite-satisfied client work. Most times, an extra round of editing is all that’s needed to slide from ‘meh’ into ‘wow!’ with a client. I can’t guarantee that this tactic will always smooth over the bumps in the road.
However, it does offer huge potential for dissolving tension with clients, since it shows you’re serious about wowing them.
You might want to quit pitching. Or writing altogether.
The distaste for pitching may creep up on you, or it might slap you in the face when you’re sitting down to pound out the tenth pitch this week.
You’re overwhelmed or overstimulated or just plain bored with your current projects. It’s perfectly okay to step back! An occasional break is understandable and even beneficial, provided you’re not overlooking your clients’ needs.
I’ve been known to take off an entire day or two and immerse myself in activities completely unrelated to writing. Especially for those of us with kids, our business can’t consume all facets of our lives, so impromptu vacations are often requisite.
It’s also okay to have a backup plan in place. It’s okay to decide not to freelance anymore, as long as you have sketched out other options to keep your finances in check. Your backup plan might be getting a “real” (brick and mortar) job again, or it might be launching a business with a physical product.
Whatever plan A, B, or C is, employing it doesn’t make you a failure! Being a freelance writer could also lead you to other online job market options, so don’t feel trapped into any singular category.
You might feel [grossly] under qualified.
Particularly if you’re venturing into writing without a firm grasp of marketing basics, SEO, or knowledge of the inner workings of WordPress. Whatever your level of knowledge or experience, you’ll likely feel small next to writers with piles of published pieces and lengthy professional networks.
I’m reasonably sure this happens to all freelancers, whatever their specialty, as we’re all prone to momentary panic when clients look to us for knowledge and advice.
It’s important to remember, though, that you’re doing this for a reason. You have experiences to share and skills to build on. Whether you’re formally educated or self taught, there are always avenues for expanding your skill set and making yourself even more desirable to clients.
What you don’t already know, you can find out. Buy books, take other professionals’ courses, and follow people you admire for their speeches and talks on what it takes to be a freelance writer.
Now that you know a little about my personal struggles as a freelance writer, tell me about yours! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as freelancer, and what the heck did you do about it?