I get so frustrated! It sometimes seems as if I meet only two kinds of freelance writers – those who are making next to nothing or even nothing at all and those who are frantic because they have more work than they can do in a reasonable amount of time.
The first writer spends time frantically looking for work online and applying for any writing job that might pay a buck or three. The second works to exhaustion – even to the point where they literally can’t write for several days or even longer.
Early on in my freelance writing career I was in both situations, for awhile. Looking back, I’ve come to believe, both come from the same source – lack of self-confidence. Now that I have some I want to shake self-esteem into people or wave the magic wand I wish I had. Obviously that won’t work.
Here’s how I think a poor self-image works in both cases:
- Lack of self-worth keeps the new writer from marketing or writing or submitting. They are full of reasons why they aren’t good enough, or the market is all wrong, or other writers are ripping off the good jobs or editors can’t be trusted. Nonsense!
- That same poor self-esteem keeps the writer who regularly has too much work from raising their rates or demanding reasonable deadlines, or hiring subcontractors. Instead they whine about being overworked or about how writing really doesn’t pay enough or how they’re always under pressure. “Change it!” I say.
Improving A Beginning Writer’s Self-Worth
Okay, I’m not a therapist. I can only share with you what I’ve come to discover for myself. In a general way here are some ideas that may help you to value yourself and your writing more:
- Know that few people write well, or even reasonably well. Once you see that’s true you’ll be able to recognize you’re already way ahead of the game.
- Know that it’s hard to get worse at something you practice. If you write regularly, and you must if you want any success at all, your writing will get better.
- Get published somewhere. Try your local, free, weekly newspaper or write an article for free for your favorite charity, get published. That’s your first writing credit. Hang on to it.
- Once you’ve had one or two things published somewhere move up. Insist on reasonable pay if you’re going to write articles for the online market place. And if they won’t pay you more, don’t write for them. Instead, find higher paying markets.
- Start submitting to consumer magazines and trade magazines. This means owning the current copy of Writer’s Market and using it or the online version. Set a goal of actually submitting x queries a week or sending one article on spec a week, then accomplish that goal. Just meeting your own goals will improve your view of yourself as a writer.
- Develop a schedule that lets you write consistently. When you’re writing regularly you’ll feel like the writer you are becoming.
- Create your own website or blog that promotes you as a writer. Put samples up, including your first credits. If you haven’t yet sold any, put up some samples you write just as examples of what you can do.
- Open a business checking account, even if you have to open it with a single dollar. Having a business account helps you know that you are in business.
- Order business cards that say you’re a writer. You can get them almost for free from VistaPrint. Make sure your email, website and phone number are on the card and easy to read. Hand the cards out liberally. Having your own business cards also helps you know you’re a writer.
For The Established Writer
- Raising your rates is the surest way to earn more without working more. In fact, the first time you increase your rate you may end up with more work, so be prepared to do it again and again until you’ve got some balance in your life. Sure it’s scary, but it’s worth it. Take whatever hourly you’re working at now and increase it by at least 25 percent. Quote that rate to the next potential clients – practice that rate until you’re comfortable with it. Jenn’s article, 5 Reasons You Deserve a Raise may help.
- Consider subcontracting some of your work out to other writers. Note: this may be a major change in the way you do business, so consider it carefully. If you’re good at project management it may be perfect for you. If, like me you don’t want to get into project management, refer overflow work to other writers without expecting anything back. It will be out of your hair and you’ll get to experience the positive side of what goes around comes around when someone refers a client to you.
Of course, improving your self-esteem as a writer often improves it in the rest of your life as well – wouldn’t that be nice!
What helps you improve your view of yourself as a writer?