I’ve been at this writing thing a number of years, and have noticed a few things beginners to this career do. Some do more of these things, some just one.
- They assume what they know is enough and don’t strive to be “better.”
- They read promises of what could happen and get scared off, believing it’s hype and too good to be true.
- They suffer information overload, burn themselves out before they even get started, and decide to wait on tables for the rest of their lives.
- They battle information overload, but follow the wrong mentors.
- They tell themselves they’re not good enough and quit.
- They get started, but undervalue what they’re worth.
- They believed it was going to be easy.
First, I’m going to tackle the last one.
While freelance writing may be the better answer for you, let me be perfectly clear. Being a freelance writer is NOT easy.
But we’ve all heard the timeless saying: Nothing word doing is ever easy.
If you think being a freelance writer is easy and you fit in the first category where you believe what you know is enough…well, get over yourself.
You’ll need to learn MORE and improve.
You’ll need to grow from “working for the man” and “become the man,” so to speak. It doesn’t matter if you led a big team with little disruption from upper management. It doesn’t matter if you were involved with the budgeting.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the best writer in the world.
You’ll need to alter your perspective in some areas and learn how to operate in others. You’ll have duties you didn’t have before. You’ll have to learn how to speak the way others speak so your words connect with them.
If you come from a position of prestige and self importance, you’ll need to find humility empathy. If you came from a position of self employment or reliance, you’ll need a drive to become “better” for your clients’ sake more than your own.
For people in category two who believe this is too good to be true. Well, frankly, if you completely dismissed the writing life because you couldn’t see past the hype of what can be achieved, either you don’t believe in yourself enough or want it badly enough.
You need to step back and fix that first. It’s okay to not fully believe in yourself at first. Confidence comes with time, with the more jobs you do, and more connections you make in this profession. But you must be resolved not to let that cripple you. Even if you don’t believe in yourself at first, decide now to be willing to believe in yourself and forge ahead, with guidance.
A close family friend of mine gave up his inherited business. He was honest with himself. He said, “I don’t want to be a boss. I just want to work.”
And that’s okay. There’s no shame in not wanting the duties a boss goes through. As a freelancer, you become the boss. Be sure you want it badly enough to be able to deal with the duties you’ll have as the boss.
When you operate your own freelance business, you’ll have to deal with the same issues as any business owner. You have to show up and be available for clients when you say you will be.
You may have to fire someone. Yes, I’ve had to fire an editor before. You have to worry about taxes, budgets, broken equipment, bad clients, people who don’t like your business, etc.
Yes, we are a fickle society. We have those who disagree with anything and everything. They will appear and try to ruin your party.
And you’ll have two other things to deal with:
- People won’t believe you really work and have a real schedule.
- You will have to learn how to say “No.”
It’s funny. People read words all the time, yet they don’t believe anyone has the job of writing those words. Perhaps, in 50 years, no one will and computers will do it all.
But for now it’s us. And we get paid for it. Until you make it big (whatever that means to you) and can live by your writing, people may not take your work or work hours seriously.
Even after you make it, many won’t take it seriously. They believe because you work for yourself, so your time is your own, and it’s easier for you to take time off at a moment’s notice. Of course you won’t be able to if you’re running your business seriously.
You will have to develop the ability to say “No.” Sometimes to some very important requests. Sometimes to even yourself when you think, “I’ve got time. I’m going to take a break and do [something other than work.]”
During my early years a mentor said something very important. “You’ll work longer and harder for yourself starting out than you ever did working for someone else.”
It’s true. Oh, the 4 hour work days for writers with a bigger income do really exist. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen for everyone. It took them time to build up the right clientele, and they usually work in an area that come with royalties that go on for years.
Can you create a six figure income? Sure. But it’s not easy, nor does it happen quickly. Not as a rule anyway. I’ve observed a few work their butts off specifically aiming for that income and it still took 2-5 years to get to that point.
I’m not saying there are exceptions. I’ve seen one get serious about her career and within a year be a six figure income copywriter. She also works a full work week. No four hour days.
Don’t kid yourself. It’s competitive out there and making it won’t be easy.
It IS entirely possible to enjoy the “writer’s life” as some companies call it. What that means to you is your choice. This could be a five figure income or a six figure income.
The trick is to decide what your desired end goal is when you get into this business right away. Then be prepared to learn what it takes to achieve it.
I’ll tell you now that I’m not at my end goal yet. I really didn’t start seriously working towards it immediately. By my calculations, I won’t achieve my end goal for another few years.
The incredible achievements I’ve seen in my business over the past several months have boistered my confidence though. I know now for sure that my end goal will be achieved. I may even make it sooner than I anticipate.
IF, and only if, I do the work. This is the time I have to really get serious and work harder for it.
Steve Roller describes the process of realizing what it will take to make it in this business as coming from the dark side to the light side. He says it so much better and more completely than I do in his new book, The Freelancer Manifesto.
I highly recommend it. I strongly suggest you buy it and read it BEFORE taking any courses for starting your freelance career. Make sure you’re willing to work hard for your better working life.
If you’ve invested in courses, but you feel discouraged or lost, yet know you still want to work for yourself, his book’s for you too. Reading about the dark side will help you reaffirm your desire to have this career and your willingness to do the work.
You’ll find renewed confidence that you’re on the right path by surviving his rendition of the dark side of freelancing. You’ll find discover new ways to define and achieve the goals you want in the rest of the book.