What’s the real secret of how to be a successful freelance writer?
Well, there isn’t one answer.
But there’s one part that plays a big role: mindset.
Too many freelance writers get caught up in their own heads.
They scramble with trying to figure out how to get started. They take 10 different courses but never finish any of them. Or they charge too little and let bully clients push boundaries. And it all comes back to mindset.
If your attitude is always, “well, why would they hire me?” Or, “my pitches never get a response,” then you’ve got a mindset issue on yours hands.
Start with a mindset of failure, and you’ll find it’s hard to find the motivation to keep going. Find your “why” and make that your motivation to get up and try every day.
Nobody is going to hand you a silver platter of clients. You have to work hard for it. That means you can’t give up the minute you encounter a potential client who doesn’t want to work with you or won’t pay you what you think you’re worth.
It means having a mindset that this business is going to work no matter what.
Here I share how you can reframe your mindset to learn how to be a successful freelance writer:
Read Inspiring Stories
When you feel stuck and that everything you try isn’t working for your business, it’s time to get some inspiration.
Read about famous authors and fellow writers who have dealt with rejection. Check out any number of writing blogs, and you’re guaranteed to find writers get turned down more than once.
If anything, take stock in the fact that there are STILL successful writers out there making a living doing this.
We’re in a creative field. Our ideas and strategies might not necessarily jive with every single potential client we run into.
That’s totally okay.
I had the pleasure of interviewing famous children’s author Katie DiCamillo years ago. She’s best known for her book, Because of Winn-Dixie, a wonderful, classic childhood novel.
The book idea was rejected 473 times.
Yep, you read that right.
Since its publication back in 2000, Because of Winn-Dixie has won three awards including the Newbery Honor Book. It also went on to become a huge motion picture starring Jeff Daniels. Her books have hit the New York Times bestselling author list over a dozen times.
How did she handle rejection? By pinning her rejection letters to a dart board.
She got pretty good at darts, as you can imagine.
Here’s another story I love:
My own personal business coach wanted to secure a TEDx talk so badly that she sent her ideas out 91 times.
She kept getting rejected and was wondering if she was ever going to make it to that stage.
Finally, she landed not one but TWO TEDx talks. In two separate cities.
She also wanted to publish a book and found her idea rejected by 33 literary agents. Three wanted to work with her.
Now, she’s got a book — sponsored by Entrepreneur nonetheless — coming out in July. She never gave up. Neither should you.
Rejection happens to the best of us. It’s how you move on from it that matters the most. Follow your favorite writers on social media. Check in with other writers who are nailing it and landing retainers. Cheer them on.
Then go and find your own success.
Surround Yourself With Support
If you want to succeed in this lonely world known as freelance writing, you’ve got to have the right support. There’s nothing worse than feeling very alone and hitting roadblocks time and time again with no one to turn to for advice or support.
What does support look like for a freelance writer?
- Fellow freelance friends
- Online social communities
- Business coaches
- Writing mentors
- Local writing groups
Aside from having a circle who “gets” what you do for a living, it’s so important to have support from whoever you’re living with at home.
Make sure you set clear boundaries when you’re working, and let them know what your office hours are. This is especially important if you don’t have a door to your office. If you find your boundaries are constantly pushed, it may be time for you to locate an office outside of your home to work in.
You might also have to have a heart-to-heart with whoever is interrupting your work time. Let them know what you need to feel supported to sustain a freelance career.
Part of being a supported freelancer is having people who respect your time at work — even if it is at the kitchen table. Creative coworking spaces are great to escape to, if needed.
Invest in Yourself and Your Business
As a freelancer, you must be open to always learning and growing.
If you’re new to this, there is something that’s truly called Growing Pains. It’s where you’re constantly trying to figure out how to grow your business in a sustainable way. If you stay there too long, you may find yourself frustrated and ready to give up.
Before you do that, make sure that you secure support in the form of a coach or a course that will teach you the skills you need to succeed.
There’s plenty of garbage out there, so make sure that you vett the course before you invest in it. If you plan to hire a coach, ask for references and check testimonials on their website. If possible, schedule a short consultation with them or hop on a mini strategy call to get a taste of their coaching style.
There’s a cost that comes with both of these, but if you’re not growing, you’re stagnant.
Consider it an investment in your business and it won’t feel so painful to spend that hard-earned money. Set a time frame to finish extensive training to make sure you actually apply what you know. If you plan to invest with a coach, set specific goals at the start of your relationship to make it clear what you want to work on. Re-evaluate to see what’s working and if the investment is worth it.
Step into a Growth Mindset
Your freelance business is going to be as successful as you want it to be. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. You have to have a willingness to adapt and change priorities as your business grows. Part of that is learning to figure out what to invest in, who to surround yourself with, and what you’re passionate about.
The bottom line:
- Always be learning
- Don’t give up
- Believe in your abilities
Whether you read self-help books or listen to an inspirational podcast, surround yourself with positive content and voices. This will embed itself in your brain. I recommend doing it daily, because everyday life can wear on you as can the business. It’s a good refresher and helps you approach your work with a renewed spirit.
Every day, focus on how you can grow your business.
By always looking forward, you will feel the true power of a positive mindset that is the key to learning how to be a successful freelance writer.
What do you find to be the most helpful in setting your mindset for the day? Share in the comments below!