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3 Ways To Build Your Confidence As A Freelance Writer

freelance writing successSarah Elisabeth, who blogs at Sarah Elizabeth Writes said this in a comment to Lori Widmer’s article, Busting The Marketing Myth:

… My biggest challenge seems to be where to start. I have a diverse background, but am not an ‘expert’ in any one area. How do I focus my mind and writing on a particular niche? I have a fair amount of knowledge in business from franchises to real estate. But is business writing the best way to start up in freelancing? I also love travel and people profiles. See? I can’t decide where I need to start :-)


The other hang up is how do I know if my writing level is up to a $1 a word? I’m a newbie with a few published credits but lack the confidence that I would qualify to write on that high paying level…

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that both her challenges – where to start and what her writing is worth – is more a matter of self-confidence than anything else. If this is the case, I have a few suggestions:

  1. Perhaps the very first thing a new freelance writer might want to remember is that no one is born knowing how to be successful at freelance writing. You might watch me, or Carol Tice, or Helen Chang, or Lori Widmer, or Jonathan Fields or James Fallows and never ever consider the fact that each one of us started not knowing what we were doing when it came to developing a freelance writing career.

  2. It really makes no sense in the beginning to worry about a niche. Instead, write. Write about things that interest you and write about things people will pay you to write. Try anything and everything. Don’t worry if business is a better niche than travel – that’s only distraction. You’ll probably stumble into your first niche. Back when I stumbled into ghostwriting books I was editing a magazine and had never written anything over 5,000 words. Unless you count some tech writing on a team, which I don’t. Your niche will develop.
  3. You won’t know if you can write at the buck a word (or even more) level unless you try. Carol Tice commented to the same article about trying something “Oh. I tried that 30 or 40 times, and one time it worked.” Each time you write and get rejected, send that to another magazine until you’re down to the no-pay content mills. You’ll learn something about writing and develop the persistence you need. I often suggest people start with the highest paying markets they can find. You may be better than you think. And it’s unlikely you’ll recognize it until you’ve got a ton of experience, if then.

If you couple these with my own motto of Write, Rewrite and Market, you’ll be well on your way.

How do you build your confidence as a freelance writer?

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Thank You for this article!

    Your advice on ignoring the “niche” and submitting to the top paying magazines first are just what I needed at this point.

    Again,
    Thank You~

  • Amen, Anne. We all started the same way – wondering what the hell we were doing. 🙂

    Sarah, she’s right. Try. It’s in you. You simply don’t realize it yet.
    Lori recently posted..Of Weekends and Strong DrinksMy Profile

    • Oh lordy yes… I remember the first time I sold anything… almost wet my panties!

  • Wow, Anne, thanks for more great advice!

    I can’t say the times I’ve been scolded for downplaying my worth as a writer – fiction and non. Thanks to all my writing friends and supportive family, I realize how silly I am at times. God gave me a gift – it is my responsibility to use it wisely.

    Thanks for linking to my blog – I returned the favor on my Facebook and Twitter 😉

    I’m off to read your post, Carol!

    • Sarah, you can change negative self-talk to positive self-talk… I know ’cause I’ve done it.

  • Well great minds are thinking alike here! I also was very touched by Sarah Elizabeth’s comments, and it inspired me to post some self-confidence tips as well.

    I’m definitely a great example of someone who was NOT born a brilliant freelance writer. I did a post about how I sort of blundered into it by accident. I literally was so clueless that it was several years before I went, hey, I think…I’m a freelance writer!
    Carol Tice recently posted..10 Reasons Why You’re Bombing in Social MediaMy Profile

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