There are a lot of freelance writers out there, hustling up gigs. Have you noticed?
Maybe that makes you feel it’s hopeless to put it out there yourself. It might seem like those established pros already have the market for writing all sewn up.
I had one budding freelance writer tell me:
“I know the healthcare industry from my job, but when I saw how many members the healthcare writers association had, I just gave up! It seems like it’s too competitive.”
Or if you’ve been around a while, maybe you’re up nights worrying about all the hot young, social-media-savvy writers who’re coming to eat your lunch.
If you’re going to think this way — always worrying about how many other writers are trying to do the same thing you are — you’re not going to get very far.
To win the freelance writing game, you have to put your focus in a different place.
The most important thing for freelancers
See, worrying about the competition is a total waste of time.
Why? Because there’s nothing you can do about it.
Yes, other writers will be out there, putting up kick-ass writer websites and writing query letters and going to in-person networking events and sending InMail and answering online job ads, and all that. All the time.
If you spend all your time thinking about that, you are going to crawl into a hole, put a blanket over your head, and never come out.
So it’s key that you don’t go there.
Here’s the thing to think about instead: The size of the freelance writing market is huge. And there’s a lot of pent-up demand, from overwhelmed editors and business owners who don’t even have the time to think up an ad or ask their network if they know a writer.
There is room in the multi-billion dollar world of freelancing for one little old you to carve out a living. If you want it, and go after it. Trust me.
But to make it, you can’t waste time worrying about things that you can’t change. Stressing about what the other guy might be up to.
Instead, you need to spend your energy where it can do some good.
This is a proactive, positive step you can take that will make a real difference in your success. It’s a simple attention switch.
How I bucked the odds
When I started out as a freelance writer, I really knew nothing. Except how to write a song, which is what I’d been doing since I was 14.
Instead of worrying about my vast knowledge shortfall, I only worried about one thing — how to find ways to learn and get better.
I asked editors lots of questions.
I tried to make each article I wrote better than the one before.
I became a student of great story ideas and learned to come up with catchier ones.
With each new client, I tried to get better assignments and better pay.
As soon as I got the hang of one type of writing, I went out and looked for something harder. Instead of 3oo-word short pieces, I gradually moved to 3,000-word feature articles.
I never really thought about how many other writers might want to get the assignments I was going after.
Just that I had to improve.
The key to winning the game
Each year, I set a goal of having more and better assignments and doing better quality writing.
Even 20 years in, I’m still running this same race.
I’m in a war against my prime challenger: the writer I was last year.
What she did was OK…but I know I can do better. I’m hungry to show her up.
I want to beat her.
So each year, I learn more. Try harder. Pitch harder. Try to move the needle. Try to create work I can be proud of.
That’s my whole focus. I don’t care what other writers do. I just compete with myself.
Do that, and you will make things happen as a writer.
Anytime you want to know what you’re up against — who’s standing between you and the freelance writing career you want — just look in a mirror.
That’s the only competition you have to worry about. And you can win that race if you try.
What do you worry about as a writer? Leave a comment and talk about how you move forward.