Recently I sent out newsletters to subscribers inviting them to apply for an upcoming freelance writing experiment where I'll work with a writer one-on-one for a few months to improve or revitalize their career.

Today I was pouring over those applications, and the stories these writers shared, as I tried to narrow down my options. And I noticed a trend through most of these applications as writers told me about their common challenge -- a lack of confidence.

That might have been a lack of confidence in pitching. Or following up with prospects. Or asking for more than beginner-level rates even when they had nearly five years of experience behind them. Or networking more. Or simply taking a leap to try something new.

Confidence is one of those topics I don't think we can talk about enough.

I consider it incredibly important for newer freelancers in particular to know that they aren't alone if they deal with fears and doubts and struggles with confidence.

What was refreshing about these writers though was they've already pushed past the first hurdle. They've engaged in honest self-reflection, they've admitted what their issue is, and they asked for help where they needed it.

  • Maybe you're in a similar place.
  • Maybe you're still neck-deep in doubts and fears and impostor syndrome and you can't bring yourself to ask for help.
  • Or maybe you struggle with these things, but you're still in denial about what's holding you back.

That's all natural. And as long as you keep working towards the acknowledgement and ability to seek help or work on the underlying issues like these other writers have, you will be okay.

Lori Widmer asked me to write a post for this year's Writer's Worth Month (in May) over at her Words on the Page blog. More specifically she asked me to talk about the role fear has played in my freelance writing career. So I'll wait until that post to share some of my own story with you (though you'll certainly find plenty of it tucked away here in the archives too).

If you want to be a fly on the wall hearing two writers talk about fear and confidence about writing (fiction and freelance), listen to this podcast I recorded with Princess Jones.

Until then, that's really all I want you to know: We all have a story. And you aren't alone.

Our struggles might look different, but they can be as debilitating. And they can all be overcome in their own ways. If you feel like a lack of confidence is holding you back in business, take some time for the kind of honest self-reflection your colleagues did when sending me their applications.

Think about the specific ways your career has suffered because of issues of confidence. Then, if you can't bring yourself to push past it just yet, look for ways to work around it. If you're afraid to cold call clients, turn to email instead. If you're lacking the confidence to pitch, focus on inbound marketing. If surrounding yourself with colleagues intimidates you, focus your time and energy on networking with potential clients rather than other writers.

There is no single perfect career plan for freelancers. The beauty of a freelance writing career is that we get to tailor it to our own preferences, as long as those choices drive us in the right direction. That doesn't only mean focusing our strategy on our strengths, but also around our weaknesses.

If the road you're on is blocked... take a detour.