Those of us who have found success working in freelance writing or freelance anything are bound to have at least a little bit of arrogance. After all, we’re the ones who’ve figured out how to make the system work for us. We’re not cogs in a giant machine anymore – or if we are, it’s by choice. We’re successful business owners. Ah, independence.
I’ve known it for years, but I’m going to just get it out there in the open. You might consider me stuck up. I’m not conceited about my great beauty. Two kids, thirty-two years and that’s pretty much a write-off. I’m not arrogant about my superior writing ability. I think we can all agree that there are fabulous writers out there who far surpass just about all of us in ability. But I am cocky about my ability to make my career work out the way I want it to, and I think we can all celebrate some variation of that same theme.
Does that make me annoying to others? You might be annoyed reading this, but we’ll get through it together. To the person on the street, I’m just another schlumpy mom with two kids and too little sleep. To the clients online, however, I’ve been around long enough to be a true asset. I can sell myself and I don’t have to lie to do it.
It’s heady stuff demanding hundreds of dollars for my time. The fact that they come back means I’m not the only one who thinks my time is worth that much. As well all know, I’m not the only one able to claim these bragging rights – you are, too. And so is that guy and the one working from home a few houses down the road. It’s a right of well-paid freelancers and small business owners to be just a wee bit arrogant, and surprisingly that bit of cockiness is respected by clients.
Being Loud and Being Proud
There are a few things working against us in the arrogance department, however.
- The word arrogance has a negative connotation. Haughty, conceited, stuck-up, cocky, etc. All of those are insults.
- Don’t shoot the messenger, but there have been more than a few studies that claim women aren’t proud enough of their achievements. If they were, they’d be more competitive in various careers and there wouldn’t be a significant pay gap for the same job between women and men.
- Humility is a virtue. Okay. It’s hard to get around that one. The exact opposite of arrogance is a good thing, meaning excessive pride is obviously bad. Hm. But without pride how can you utilize your talents? An argument for another day perhaps.
So what do we do? If you’re uncomfortable being arrogant in your successes, why not use a word with a positive connotation? You can be proud. You can be confident. I dare you to find a distinction between being confident and being arrogant when it comes to self-made success. It’s just splitting hairs.
Hairs, definitions and denotations aside, the take away here is simple. Often it’s not your abilities selling your writing services. It’s your confidence. It’s not your amazing grasp of the subjunctive that is going to make clients pay you lots of money to write a blog post. It’s the seemingly arrogant way you carry on discussions of your abilities. You know what to do, and you can explain it to others.
You understand how to be successful. And believe it or not, many client’s greatest desire is a professional who is exactly that – confident, assertive (there’s another good pride word) and independent. A lot of my clients are relieved they don’t have to virtually hold my hand – it’s actually a huge selling point.
Maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you never have any desire to be so sure of yourself you’re able to argue a rate with a client or let him know when he’s looking at a business idea that needs serious rethought.
You may be disgusted with me for saying arrogance in business is a positive attribute, and I truly think it is so long as you’re not blinded by confidence to your own shortcomings. But I have to wonder if every successful freelancer isn’t proud and confident to the point of arrogance – even if he or she isn’t actually comfortable with it yet.