Building Confidence as a Freelance Writer

If there's one thing that successful freelance writers have in common, it's confidence. It's tough to succeed on your own in any line of work if you don't. Here's why:

  1. If you're not confident in your abilities, you'll struggle to "sell yourself" to clients.
  2. If you're not confident in your work, it's unlikely that you'll charge what you're worth, raise your rates when you want / need to, etc.

So how can you build your confidence when it comes to your writing services? Obviously confidence comes with time for some, and the more established you are, the more confident you will likely become. But what if you're new? Or you've just raised your rates, and you're not confident that people will think you're worth it? Here are a few things that might help:

  1. Client feedback - When clients tell you they love your work, it can be a great feeling. The more positive feedback you receive, the more comfortable you'll likely become with your own abilities. Different client groups are looking for different things though, so if you decide to switch from let's say SEO content writing to freelance magazine writing in your niche, you may get completely different feedback and start the confidence-building on this front all over again.
  2. Colleague feedback - Whether you're just starting out or making changes to your freelance writing services, positive feedback from colleagues (or mentors) can be a big confidence booster (and if there are problems with your writing, their feedback will give you a chance to improve before making mistakes with clients). If you're looking for honest feedback, and not just a pat on the back, ask for feedback from writing groups or unbiased colleagues who will really tell you what they think and what you can do to improve.
  3. Getting paid - It might sound silly, but actually seeing money change hands for your work can build a bit of confidence all on its own. This is especially true if you've just raised your rates. Why? Because it's confirmation that someone places actual value on your work, at the same level that you do. I'll give you an example. I've always written press releases inexpensively, because of the market I like to target. Last year, my regular rate was $99 per press release. At the beginning of this year, I significantly increased it to $179 per release (while still rather low compared to others with a similar background, I wasn't sure how my audience would react). While there were a few slower points for that service right after the change (I'd occasionally offer sales to keep them coming in), just a few months later I had people lining up willing to pay my new regular rate. That's the point where I decided that it was really the right decision, and where I became more confident in the new rate structure - when I saw that my current market felt the service was worth what I decided to charge for it. Another option would have been to charge even more, and simply alter my target market. In that case, I would have had to build confidence in working with a different type of client, just as I had to do with my existing markets.

Those three things have the most impact on me personally when it comes to building confidence. Praise, constructive feedback, and knowing that clients value the work. What helped you become more confident, either in your specialty or as a freelance writer in general? What advice would you offer new freelance writers who may not feel confident enough to go out and find those clients or charge more than peanuts even if their work is worth much more?

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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