5 Stupid Excuses Freelance Writers Make for Not Reaching Their Goals

Excuses freelance writers make

When you work as a freelancer, sometimes you'll struggle to reach your goals. But one of the most destructive things you can do when that happens is make excuses. Yet freelance writers makes excuses all the time to justify their lack of success in one area or another. After all, that's easier than taking responsibility and making changes. Today let's look at some of those excuses and expose them for what they really are.

Here are five of the biggest, and most ridiculous, excuses freelance writers make for not reaching their goals, making enough money, or landing the kinds of gigs they want.

1. No one is hiring freelance writers right now.

This excuse also manifests itself as "no one is willing to pay professional rates anymore." But it's just that -- an excuse. Plenty of clients are hiring freelance writers right now, and plenty are paying pro-level rates.

If you've let this thought creep in, be realistic for a minute. How many clients would it take, paying your target rates, for you to be able to reach your income goals each month? Probably not many (unless you're way undercharging).

If you focus on finding clients with long-term relationship potential rather than ones that only want piecemeal projects, you need even fewer overall (though you should never rely on just one or two -- always diversify your income streams a bit as added security). They're out there. You just aren't doing enough to find them and attract them to you over someone else.

2. Writers in other countries are driving my rates down and taking my gigs.

Bullshit. That's right. This excuse is compete and utter bullshit.

There will always be cheap-ass clients who want the world for a few dollars. If they can't find that in you, they might look elsewhere where the cost of living is lower and people can work for less. But here's reality. Most of the time, they won't get what they really want. They won't get the same quality of work. There is no single "global writers market."

Writers elsewhere will work for whatever they need, and they'll satisfy certain markets. But those aren't your markets. If you've done your job, you've identified the right target market for your services. That includes clients' ability to pay your rates.

If you're not finding those people, it's not on prospects who are looking for something different. And it's certainly not on writers in other parts of the world. It's on you. You screwed up somewhere. Figure out where that is -- from your initial targeting to your marketing tactics -- and fix it. When you focus on the right group of prospects, you won't be competing with bottom-dollar service providers or running into clients looking for quick content on the cheap.

3. I have to take on crap gigs in order to "pay my dues."

This myth is a major pet peeve of mine.You do not have to "pay your dues" as a freelance writer. You do not have to work for little or no pay to build your initial clips. It is not some sort of prerequisite to being a successful freelance writer.

Will you earn more as your experience increases? Absolutely. But my point is that you never have to work for less than what you need just because you're new. If you're getting into freelancing, you should already have some kind of skill or expertise that offers value to clients. And you should be paid fairly for that. Not sure what value you offer yet? Conduct a simple SWOT analysis and figure that out first.

Then crunch the numbers using my freelance writing rate calculator (click the advanced link for the more detailed version). See what your minimum base rate should be. If you can't charge enough to reach that minimum rate, you aren't ready to freelance yet. Build those skills or industry knowledge first -- though education, work experience, or some other type of experience.

This isn't usually an issue of you not being ready though. It's an issue of misinformation spread by some more experienced writers who went this route and people outside the freelance world who don't understand the differences between freelancing and being an employee. You're paid based on value and your ability to convey that value. You're a business owner now -- not an employee trying to work their way up the ranks.

If you have the skills and specialized knowledge to pitch big clients right off the bat, go for it. If not, focus on clients at the highest level your background allows for right now, and focus on building better credentials to land better gigs soon.

4. I'm too busy to take on more gigs (or market my services).

This is another load of BS. You have the same 24 hours in a day that every other freelance writer has. And yet many of them manage just fine. If you don't have enough time, learn to manage yours better. Focus on increasing your productivity. Try a new schedule. Or cut unnecessary things until you have enough time for what needs to be done.

You'll figure out plenty of ways to improve your time management as you build more experience. But the first step is to stop making excuses. You don't have time to blame anyone or anything else. You're busy, remember? So get to work.

5. I don't know how to market my freelance writing services.

Then learn.

This is the excuse that pisses me off, because I know how many resources are out there that can help you. I've been providing you with those resources here for nine years now, and I'm far from the only one.

It's never been easier to get started in freelancing with all of these resources available to teach you -- many of them free. The only reason a freelance writer can say they don't know how to market themselves is sheer laziness.

Pick up a book. Read a blog. Ask questions. Use Google for crying out loud. Just about anything you could possibly want to know is right there at your fingertips. And if you aren't willing to do a bit of work to find the information that's so readily available, you aren't prepared for the work involved in taking on a freelance writing career.

Need some places to get started?

  • Get a copy of my 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp e-book for freelance writers. It's a step-by-step guide to quickly building a writer platform if you're new to freelancing.
  • Get Lori Widmer's Marketing 365 e-book. It's a collection of 365 marketing tips for freelance writers. She literally gives you a new marketing tip to try every day of the year.
  • Browse the marketing section for freelance writers on the All Freelance Writing blog. (FREE)
  • Read Peter Bowerman's The Well-Fed Writer to learn more about direct marketing for your freelance writing services (an excellent book for commercial / business writers).

Do you see your fellow freelance writers making these or other excuses? Have you used any of them yourself? What are some of the most common writer excuses you hear or make, and why do you think they're so prevalent? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “5 Stupid Excuses Freelance Writers Make for Not Reaching Their Goals”

  1. Gee, Jenn… you think? Actually over time I’ve probably used all these except maybe the overseas writers. And I’ve busted myself on each one… they are all excuse city. I know none of them need be true, but as soon as I buy into one or all they become true for me until I get off it.


    • That’s the trick though, isn’t Anne — snapping ourselves out of these destructive notions. I doubt any of us have never made an excuse along these lines. It’s always easier to think “I’m doing everything I can, so something else must be the problem” than to realize we’re doing something wrong or still have room to improve. But don’t we all? 🙂

  2. I love how straight forward you are in this article Jennifer! I’ve heard all of these excuses so many times before, and to be honest, I’m sick of them. But I guess it’s in human nature to complain and to blame other for their fails rather than to take courage and keep fighting.

    • We all make excuses of some kind at some point. The trick is not letting them become a crutch. If it’s a temporary thing — a part of processing whatever our problems are before we move on to a real solution — it probably isn’t all that harmful. We just have to remember to push past them.


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