When it comes to your freelance writing career, are you a little…lost?
There’s a lot of help out there for writers, especially for writers in the beginning of their career who don’t know how to get started or advanced writers who are ready to make six figures. But writers in the middle are an oft-ignored group.
These writers have gotten past the thrilling, scary, “I don’t even know what I don’t know yet” hump of getting started, and now they’re staring at their laptop screen every day wondering if this is all there is – if struggling and anxiety and sheepish explanations that go something like, “No, I’m not writing a book… I work with clients and… well… write whatever they want me to write” is the summit they had their eye on all those months (or years) ago.
I’m talking to those writers. I’m talking to you if you:
- Can’t sleep at night because your electricity is going to be shut off tomorrow afternoon
- Have anxiety buzzing in your chest because you just want to make yourself a hot meal but you can’t afford groceries
- Want to yell and scream at the clients who are taking advantage of you, but you can’t because you absolutely need their money
It’s about more than just money, though, right? Maybe it’s money and something or maybe it’s just that “something” (or, honestly, maybe it’s just about the money right now, and I totally get that).
I’m also talking to you if you:
- Are sick to death of the topic you write about most often, and you find yourself writing the same stuff over and over again – and even if the client is happy, you definitely are not
- Have managed to make a living writing, but if it’s going to be this boring/difficult/heartbreaking to continue, you’d rather work in retail, even though working in retail is also a living nightmare
- Know there must be something more out there, but you don’t know where it is or what to do if you happen to find it
I’m talking to you because I’ve been you. Some days, I’m still you.
In the past, I’ve negotiated with my electric company, figured out how to stock my fridge with $10 to my name, and bitten my tongue when a client deserved to be put in their place. Today, my bills are never out of control, I can go shopping without triple-checking my bank account and I’ve found professional, firm ways to stand up for myself when a client is overstepping.
I’ve faced the other mountains, too, and have found ways over them – or sometimes around them or through them, and sometimes have even turned on my heel after saying, “Oh, you’re not my mountain.” Here’s what I’ve done and what I believe you can do, too:
- Become an authority in a writing niche you have zero-to-limited experience with, then get rid of the topics you hate writing about and write more about the things you love (or at least like)
- Dump clients who are bad for any number of reasons, then easily spot those red flags in the future so the potential client-writer relationship never gets past a first email or consultation
- Wake up to a job you love nearly all the time, and feel in your bones that you can do this even on the days when drive/hope/inspiration are flagging (and maybe just take those days off, because the world will still be there tomorrow)
- Search for and find the “more” that’s out there, then know what to do when you find it, then repeat the cycle however often you need to continue evolving your career
Most importantly, though, there’s one thing I’ve done that’s truly made the biggest, most significant and longest-lasting difference in my career, happiness and life. And it’s a tactic that I can apply to any type of client, publication or project search in the future, no matter where my career leads me:
I’ve cut through the surface-level advice that almost every article or book I’ve read on “how to be a writer” has offered to dig deeper into job postings and calls for queries in a way that lets me (a) discover if this is for me, (b) determine if I am for it and (c) connect with a human being who cares about finding a thoughtful, capable writer more than they care about how thoroughly I filled out the job application.