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Let’s Talk About Competition in Freelance Writing

competitionFear of competition can make you crazy! Or that’s how it’s worked for me. It can breed suspicion among people who really should be friends or at least pleasant to each other. It can lead to butting heads to no avail resulting in a waste of energy.

Here’s what I mean – if you worry about or even move into fear about competing with other writers you’re saying you don’t have faith in your own writing. You may also be saying you don’t believe you’re enough, that you fear you won’t get enough of the pie as it were.

The myth of the pie

You know the theory – there are only X amount of freelance writing jobs out there (or anything else for that matter) which means you have to hustle like crazy to get your share.

There are two things wrong with this view.

The first is there are a gagillion freelance writing jobs out there – and more coming all the time. And there’s no real way to divide a growing pie – not in this sense anyway. There’s more work for writers and it looks like that will continue for some time.

Has the market changed? You bet. When I started writing there was no internet; most book publishers were privately held, as were many magazines.

Yes, there are areas in writing where competition drives down the price – Upwork (Formerly eLance) and Fiver are great examples.

The good news is you don’t have to find your writing gigs where the pay is low.

The second thing that’s wrong with the pie view of the freelance writing world is hustling, at least with its pejorative sense, isn’t the way to be successful in the writing game.

Yes, you have to work to find work, but it’s far from impossible. And you don’t have to cheat to do it.

The good news is learning to find writing work is totally learnable. In fact, over a life time of writing you’ll probably have to learn new ways to market yourself several times. So what? That doesn’t mean you need to worry about competition.

Yes, you can (mostly) ignore the competition

The real key is to recognize your worth as a writer. It’s a state of mind you can move into with some willingness and some practice.

Then the only reason to even think about competition is just to have a feel for the market – and you can run a successful, profitable writing business with out knowing what other writers are doing. In a very real way, it’s none of your business.

Make sense?

How does this feel to you? What questions would you like to ask?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman, freelance writer

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Yess…….miss……………..it’s point………..thanks for this good reply……….

  • Sahil, I don’t see the world as truly competitive – just a lot of myths out there about competition.

  • Lori, I’m always surprised when someone reassures me they are no competition or says something like ‘you’re stiff competition.’ I just don’t see the world that way.

  • Well said, Laura.

  • first to thanks, Anne for sharing this informational and unique post. “Competition in Freelance Writing” as we all know it’s competitive world and here is huge competition in every field as an example “Competition in Freelance Writing”. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to stand with this competition but it’s necessary for our career and life. So Overall very nice post thanks to sharing this and make us part of this………..keep it………..

  • And it’s about being in it long enough (and seriously enough) to know that you and your friend have never “crossed the streams” so to speak. Cathy and I both write about healthcare. And within that, we both write at different levels and on much different topics (with occasional overlap). It’s much more her specialty than mine.

    But as she says, we refer each other to things that aren’t quite a fit or we have no time for.

    Paula, your friend’s only competition is her own head. She’s getting in her own way.

  • Hi Anne,
    My response is a lot like the others. Basically, I don’t compete. It’s a waste of energy.

    I have my own writing goals and they may not match those of other writers. It really doesn’t make sense to compare myself to others or be upset when others succeed.

    My own experience is that there are a lot of writing opportunities out there–one just has to find them. If my own work slows down, that just means I need to ramp up my marketing.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  • As Cathy said, referring extra work to other writers only makes the world a better place… thanks, Paula.

  • Ohhh, I love your Miller energy meter – great idea – could even be an app if you wanted to go that way.

  • There’s one writer I know quite well who is almost paranoid about “sharing” markets with her competition. (Thankfully we cover different areas.) She accepts more assignments even when she’s already overbooked because she’s afraid they’ll assign them to another writer and will like that writer better.

    Like you said Anne: it’s about confidence. The writer I’m talking about is good, and knows it, but she’s always afraid of being replaced by someone new.

    Meanwhile, when I can’t take a project I try to suggest a couple other writers the client might want to try.

  • In fact, those of us who share similar niches, refer work to each other when we don’t have the capacity.

    Love this post, Anne. I always go back to my Miller energy meter and ask, “Is this worth the energy?” For me, looking over my shoulder will more than likely have me landing on my face.

  • You are indeed a wise woman!

  • Well said, Lori, and exactly what I’d expect from you.

  • I’ve never felt I’m competing with other writers. I’m not. I have writer friends who write in the same or similar areas. I’ve never lost a job to any of them, nor have they lost one to me. There’s just so much work out there, I don’t see it as possible to saturate the market, no matter how small the niche.

    It’s the same with skills, if you ask me. I have a strong skill set. Some of my writers friends have different skill sets. I would never claim to know everything because hey, you just can’t. Nor would I be insecure or jealous of friends who do know more in certain areas. We all have things we can learn. Admitting we don’t know it isn’t weakness.

  • 😉 me too!

  • Excellent idea! Thanks Sue – do you know where you read it?

  • Sue Chehrenegar

    Sometimes I worry about the fact that I am not proficient in the use of social media tools like Instagram. I read this morning, that the trick is to pursue the tools you know how to use, while others go after the newer ones.

    That makes sense to me. One time when I was a graduate student, and not the brightest in the class, the instructor asked if any of us had ever done a certain classical experiment. None of the younger students had done it. I was the only member of the class to have a hand in the air. That one morning I was beating the “competition.”

  • Thanks for this post, Anne. You are spot on as I neither have the time or inclination to worry about competition in writing. Maybe because I’m older and wiser or because there’s so much opportunity out there for the serious writer to partake.

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