Have you bought into any of these freelance writing myths?
While it’s more likely a beginning writer will fall for these false beliefs, it’s not unknown for writers with some experience to discover they are trapped in one or more of them.
These freelance writing myths are indeed traps because they can slow your freelance writing career or stop it entirely.
Here they are:
A college degree is a must-have
This one has been around since the beginning of college degrees. I don’t know if it originated as part of the marketing of universities and other institutes of higher education or not. It may have fallen out of the academic world.
It’s patently false. There are a ton of writers without degrees. Paste magazine lists 10 famous ones.
While a degree might help you land a writing job – that is, get hired by some corporation to write in their offices about their stuff – in the freelance writing world the idea you need a degree before you can write only stops or delays you. If you decide you want one anyway, great. Just be sure you understand why you’re going for it and that you also understand it’s an extra as far as freelance writing goes.
Your writing has to be perfect – one of the most damaging freelance writing myths
This one makes me crazy for a simple reason: There is no way to know what’s perfect. Particularly about something human created – like writing. There’s no way to judge. Sure you can say you do or don’t like a piece of writing – yours or someone else’s, but that says nothing about how good it is. Demanding perfection can ruin your writing.
Hanging on to the idea that you know or will recognize when you write the perfect sentence, or paragraph etc. simply means you’ll never ever be satisfied with your writing. Chances are with this sort of unworkable standard you’ll never really start writing.
It’s impossible to earn a living writing
I often wonder how many parents have perpetuated at least some freelance writing myths. Lots is my hunch, and this is one of most likely. They probably don’t mean to be nay-sayers, they just want to protect you. Others who discourage you may simply be jealous of your willingness to follow your dream.
The trick is to just ignore them. Don’t try to convince them. When you become a successful freelance writer they may change their minds – more likely they’ll call it luck. Just smile and keep doing your thing.
It’s easy to make millions
If only this were true! It’s not. Even those few who look like they make millions writing and always have will tell you how long it took to get there. Oh sure, a few may have stumbled into a great title that made marketing a snap, but they are certainly a limited number.
More likely you’ll run into some internet marking scheme that purports to tell you they have the secret to easy cash. And they do – by promising way more than they can deliver they get gullible folks to pay them lots of money for little solid information. Scams in other words.
There are great teachers and classes out there – make sure to check references and do the rest of your due diligence before you sign up and pay.
The internet makes freelance writing easy
No, the internet doesn’t make writing easy, although there are scammers out there that try to sell you on that idea.
The ‘net does make it easier to find markets for your writing – that’s absolutely true. It also makes it easier to actually learn how to write, how to improve your writing and how to market your writing. It’s easier to get information, but that info must be put to consistent use if it’s to pay off for you.
You must discover your niche and stick to it
A niche can be handy. I’ve got one telling freelance writers how to write and market themselves. It’s kinda cool, but I certainly don’t stick only to this one. I also write about 12 Step Recovery, Buddhism, and sometimes weird industrial topics like steel tanks etc. Back in the day I wrote about running and sailing off shore.
A writer friend of mine has a niche but also finds writing gigs about things she wants to learn – great approach.
The real secret to writing is to write – I find niches develop. It’s one of freelance writing myths that you need one.
You get to take lots of time off
Well, maybe. But usually not in the beginning. While it’s true you have more control over how and when you spend your work time, chances are you’ll work more than a 40 hour week. Maybe half of that will be time actually spent writing. The rest is marketing and managing your business. Terry Cole-Whitaker once said “we entrepreneurs will spend 80 hours to avoid working 40 for someone else.” I understand, and if you don’t, you will.
What other freelance writing myths are you familiar with?
Write well and often,