7 Screaming Red Flags That You’re Not Cut Out for Freelance Writing
Have you been wondering if you could be a freelance writer?
Well, despite all the rah-rah you hear on many freelance sites about just going for it, and all the excitement about the pluses of the freelance life — no boss, set your own hours, a variety of work — the plain fact is that not everybody can hack this lifestyle.
How do you know if it’s not for you? I’ve mentored a lot of writers, and at this point I have a pretty clear sense of who is going to make it and who will end up throwing in the towel and finding a day job again.
Here are my seven warning signs that you’re not cut out to be a freelance writer, and suggestions on how to overcome each of these obstacles:
- You’re insecure. Deep down, you need to have confidence that you possess writing talent and will be able to find gigs. If you don’t really think you’ve got something to offer, neither will anyone else. If needed, work to build up your confidence. Look over past writing you’ve done and see what you’ve accomplished. Surround yourself with people who are bullish on your writing efforts. Look in the mirror every morning and say, “Damn, I’m good.” Repeat until you mean it.
- You’re not self-disciplined. If you were home all day with no one looking over your shoulder, would you do your writing assignments and market your business — or would you stuff most of the contents of your fridge down your gullet, yack on Facebook IM, and watch reruns of Dancing with the Stars? When you’re a freelancer, you need the inner resolve to haul yourself into the chair, turn on the computer, and write. So meditate, do yoga…whatever it takes to develop some discipline, get some inner calm, and start to focus on what matters.
- You get writer’s block. If you tend to sigh about the house saying, “I don’t know, it’s just not flowing today,” feel free to write a novel on spec. When you’re writing to feed your family, writer’s block just can’t happen. Beat the block by doing a writing prompt, creating an outline for your piece, or taking a walk. Make a commitment to be disciplined about your writing, banish writer’s block, and crank out the work on deadline.
- You hate marketing. Does the idea of picking up the phone and asking strangers for writing gigs terrify you? How about going to an in-person networking event to talk about your writing talents? These are routine activities for freelance writers who want to earn well. If you’re marketing-phobic, experiment with different types of marketing until you find one you can do without having to breathe into a paper bag. Maybe sending prospects InMail on LinkedIn will be your style, or going to a coffee klatsch every Tuesday. Realize marketing will be a regular, weekly activity in your freelance life. Embrace it.
- You’re disorganized. You have to be part secretary and accountant to make freelance writing your full-time, bill-paying occupation. If you’re losing your interview notes and can’t remember when your article is due, you’re doomed. If need be, take a ‘get organized’ course.
- You’re too nice. Do you have trouble saying “no“? If so, freelancing poses a challenge, because the woods just bristle with boundary-pushing clients who’d like you to rewrite their 35-page website for $100. If you say yes to them, you will be very busy, but also very hungry. Once friends and neighbors know you’re freelancing, they’ll want you to watch their cat and sign for their packages, too. You’ll need to put your foot down with all these users. Practice turning down requests with a friend or writing buddy to develop your resolve.
- You don’t like being told what to do. You may think freelancing means freedom from being bossed around. But really, it doesn’t. Instead, you’ll end up with a half-dozen or more bosses you’ll have to juggle. And they’ll all want the writing done the way they want it. Then, they’ll want it rewritten another way. And you’ll have to smile and be nice to each of them if you want to get paid. You can work on this one by practicing being obedient. Watch Ella Enchanted for a tutorial.
What are your biggest obstacles to becoming a freelance writer? Leave a comment and tell us about it.