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Insecurity: How Freelance Writers Can Cope With Uncertainty

I was crazily in love with the idea of having high paying clients…

The desire was so intense that I even started to dream about them.

Lo and behold, I opened my email one day and saw two emails from two different clients. One was offering a huge $5 per article project, while the other was a one-time $50 per article project.

Saying I was overjoyed is an understatement. Any right-thinking young guy like me would say an instant NO to the lower paying job and grab the higher paying client by the throat!

But something came over me and I said no to the higher paying client, giving the excuse, “I have no time”.

At this point, I had an extreme gut feeling of indecision.

Common sense told me to ditch the $5 project, but insecurity and uncertainty (which many freelance writers still face) forced me to accept it.

You may think I was stupid to accept the lower paying job.  After all the lessons and nudges that Oni has given us based on getting paid our worth, the sensible thing to do was to act it out right?

Well, wait till you hear my excuse – an excuse that I bet you’re still making as a freelance writer. 

Why You May Never Get Paid What You’re Worth

In the first few months I started out as a freelance writer, I was pretty unlucky. For some reason, the lower paying clients were the ones that stayed with me the longest. The higher paying ones were one-time customers. They requested, I delivered and they left. And it stayed this way for a long time.

I on the other hand held on to low paying clients like my life depended on them. Why? It’s simply because I was certain that they would come back for more. Producing 50 articles a month at $5 a piece was still better than a single $50 project in three months.

I didn’t want to let go of those clients because I knew writing for them would pay the bills. I was sure of a new project every month and I knew that they would come back for more. Even though I worked my tail off every day, I had peace of mind- the same kind an expectant employee gets when the end of the month approaches. And all this while, I was a reader of WritersinCharge. I needed spanking!

It wasn’t until I was treated for stress that I implemented the following four steps to deal with my uncertainty.

1. I Changed My Mindset About Uncertainty

I was scared that ditching my regular clients would put me out of business. I had an extreme fear of “losing my job”. I wasn’t ready to rebrand my thoughts to make way for improvement. If this is your present state of mind, then get ready for a stressful life ahead because nothing will get better.

For some reason, it always boils down to changing the way you think about your life and your business, especially when you want something better. If your freelance writing career is going to be anything near successful, then you really need to stop “surviving” and start “living”.

So how the heck to do you that?

Take action: It’s really important that you keep a positive attitude throughout your writing career. Don’t see this transition as going out of business. Instead, see it as trying something new. Don’t see it as a risk, but as an adventure. You’re in complete control of your life and your freelance writing business. Don’t ever forget that!

2. I Proved My Worth by Improving My Skills

If the low paying clients always came back for more, then why didn’t the higher paying ones become repeat clients too? I never really understood why and never bothered to find out the reason. Although I was writing quality articles (my clients told me so), it was quality on a low level.

I didn’t know how to write for an online audience. I didn’t even know what internet attention span was. I didn’t make the decision to rebrand my writing skills until I realized that my clients only used my articles for backlinks in article directories. There’s really no need for intense quality when your articles are used for that.

Take action: What kind of clients do you write for and do you know their target audience? Answering these questions would help you know what skills to develop. If your client needs articles for guest blogging, then you need to know how to research target blogs in your client’s niche. Alternatively, you can choose to develop desired skills and make your potential clients know what you are good at through your hire me page.

3. I Bragged About Myself to Show My Confidence

On one occasion, I was sending articles to a client using the internet facilities in a cyber cafe. Unknown to me, the man who was sitting right next to me watched me for several minutes. As I was about to leave, he asked a question, “Are you a freelance writer?” My response was, “not really, sir”. I didn’t feel I was good enough to be called a freelance writer.

After much probing, I eventually spilled the beans. And the thing is, when I start to talk about myself I only stop when you get tired of listening :-). To cut a long story short, I got my next client through him.

Take action: Whether the articles you write are quality or crap, never hesitate to talk about what you do or your accomplishments. Your potential client won’t know how great you are until you tell him or her. Just don’t get too overconfident.

4. I Saved More Money for The Rainy Days

One reason I held on to lower paying projects was because I wanted the money to keep flowing in. I never wanted to be broke and I don’t think you want that either, do you? Well, you don’t have to be broke because there is something called “saving” and not everyone is good at it. You’ve got to be good at it!

For some people, probably including you – there’s only one thing that money says to them, and it’s “spend me”. There will be low earning months where you do little to no projects, probably due to ill health or just normal circumstances. What would you do when these rainy days come?

Take action: Don’t spend all that you earn. If your monthly earnings don’t cover your expenses, then strive to earn more so that you can save more, not spend more. Knowing that you have backup cash to fall back on would reduce your dependence on projects, regardless of the pay. Just in case you’re a newbie to the concept of saving, then you should probably read the book, “The Richest Man in Babylon” to brush up on your saving skills.

I wouldn’t lie to you; I still do some low paying projects. But this time around, I neither depend on them, nor do I hold on to them with my life. I’m kind of a workaholic, so having too much free time on my hands sometimes makes me sick (I know that’s a bad thing). Besides, the extra cash would come in handy.

Change your mindset about what you do. Don’t take on projects because your life depends on them but because you like what you do – which in this case, is writing or meeting people’s needs. By doing this, you’ll find it easier to brag about yourself and improve on your skills. Like me, you may not have an influx of extremely high paying clients, but you’d be certain that the few you attract would be sure to stay.

Your Turn

Do you still take on low paying projects, and why? How do you cope with uncertainty in your freelance writing business? I’d love to hear your views in the comments.

Lanre Solarin is a WritersinCharge team member and a freelance writer who helps service professionals generate leads online using content marketing. Download your free copy of his Proven 20-step blueprint to start generating your first few leads online.

Category: freelance writing

4 Comments on "Insecurity: How Freelance Writers Can Cope With Uncertainty"

  1. Kelvon Yeezy says:

    In the early stage of a freelancing venture content mills can bolster confidence and consequently destroy the “glitch” of uncertainty. Once you have built “enough” confidence, you can jump into high-paying projects to deliver high-quality work worth the price you get paid. Thanks for the sharing of your experience Lanre.

    Keep It Up

  2. Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon says:

    Both in freelancing and outside of it, uncertainty is a huge killer of opportunities. Overcoming uncertainty is such a hard thing to do though, but having confidence in yourself and your abilities is something you have to work on and sometimes “fake it ’till you make it”.

    Thomas

  3. Insightful post, Lanre.
    As for me, I no longer take low-paying clients. I guess once you step out of the one-digit paydays, you can’t look back. I always think about the effort I put in writing blogs and articles and I can’t bring myself to write for less than my current rates.
    I take on fiction writing though because I enjoy them. 🙂

  4. Christian says:

    Great article Lanre. I Think confidence is key to success. I have some big quality jobs, but sometimes they make me uncertain because of the feedback. That’s something I have to cope with. I hope to set up some platforms of my own so I’m less dependent of others.

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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