One Writer’s Fear-Busting Journey to $1,500 a Month in Blogging Gigs

freelance writer walks a tightrope to better payAs a new mom trying to juggle a toddler and run a household, I blamed the busyness of life for my lackluster freelance writing success.

But that was a total cop-out.

Fear was the true culprit. It stifled my creativity, filling my head with “what ifs” the way only a failure mentality can.

I’d like to say I faced those fears strategically, or that I faced them head-on. But in my case, it was more of a happy accident. But that accident netted me $1,500 a month in new blogging gigs. Here’s how:

Underqualified

Years ago, I worked in a local hospital — first as a patient registrar and then as an insurance claims collector.

But when I began writing, healthcare never even popped up on my radar as a topic to write about. I figured my three measly years left me severely underqualified to write about the topic.

I had been a member of a national healthcare association for a number of years, too, but had never pitched their magazine. The fear was always there, telling me I was too inexperienced to offer their readers anything worthwhile.

One day, glancing through the most recent issue, I realized I was familiar with 70 percent of the information being presented. A light bulb flickered. Perhaps I knew more than I thought.

Full of Doubt

Bolstered by newfound enthusiasm and with a topic in mind for the aforementioned magazine, I sought out a source to pre-interview.

And then I froze.

I had never pre-interviewed anyone. Sure, I had done interviews before, but that was when I already had an assignment. Fear and doubt flooded back in.

What if I can’t pitch the story successfully? What if the source gets mad when the story doesn’t get picked up? I was envisioning my demise before I even picked up the phone.

History told me that this rabbit-hole was deep and never-ending. So, going against every fiber in my being, I quickly scanned LinkedIn for a source and tapped out a message.

Imposter

When the source agreed to the interview, panic struck. Hard.

I’d be forced to chat with him — on the phone, in real time, without the safety net of a carefully orchestrated email. He would know the lingo, the most critical issues facing his industry currently.

What would he think of me when I was “umm”-ing my way through the conversation?

He would obviously see I was an imposter.  And rejection would inevitably follow.

Validation and Victory

When I called the source the next day, I didn’t flounder through the conversation at all. At the end of the interview, he was so impressed with my knowledge, he asked if I was looking for freelance blogging gigs.

The validation felt euphoric. It was like flipping fear the bird.

He’s now an ongoing weekly client and there’s talk of more work, too. Plus, he happily sang my praises to a colleague of his.

Guess what? His client is now my client as well. And I’ve boosted my monthly income by $1,500. Take that, fear!

In fact, I’ve been so busy with blogging work that I haven’t even pitched the story to the association magazine yet. But I will. Because as it turns out, I’m not an underqualified, self-doubting imposter after all.

How have you pushed past your freelance fears? Tell us in the comments.

Steph Weber is a former marketing specialist turned freelance healthcare, business, and food writer and blogger.  She does her darnedest to teach businesses how to get along with writers on the Blogosphere.

Writing Tips: Join the New Freelance Writer’s Launchpad: A small-group mastermind for new freelance writers. Presented by: Carol Tice & Angie Mansfield. LEARN MORE

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49 comments on “One Writer’s Fear-Busting Journey to $1,500 a Month in Blogging Gigs
  1. Caleb says:

    Oh boy! This struck me hard and I’m so encouraged by this! Thanks for sharing this inspiring success story. It was definitely needed at this time.
    Caleb recently posted…Thank God For These People In ManilaMy Profile

  2. Steph Weber says:

    Awesome, Cheryl!

    We do have similar stories, don’t we? So glad you pushed through the fear. Once you get that first client under your belt, things at least become a smidge easier. You know it doable 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  3. Cheryl says:

    This was me! I let the toddler thing be an excuse and then I got up the gumption one day to send out a few resumes. I had done that before with no luck, and I fully expected the same results this time. Oddly enough, I did get a couple of bites. One didn’t pan out, but the other one did. This one is the industry I used to work in before I became a mom. When they asked to set up an interview call I almost backed out several times. I was so scared they wouldn’t think I was good enough. I’m glad I did it. They love my work and I love working with them.

  4. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    You’re right! You just need that one in, and then you can learn much more about the niche as time goes on 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  5. Jeremy says:

    If you know more about a topic than most of a target audience out there, than you can write about a niche. Mastery follows in the months and years after that!
    Jeremy recently posted…Top 5 Resume Writing TipsMy Profile

  6. Steph Weber says:

    Cherese,

    Yes, yes, yes! I think we are all heavily influenced by others’ expectations of us, so we go against our gut, often taking the “safer” route.

    As you and I both know though, that’s not always the most rewarding route 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  7. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Stuart,

    LinkedIn does make things so much easier. Congrats on the success you’ve found with trade pubs. They really are one of the hidden gems in the writing world!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  8. Stuart Cantor, Ph.D. says:

    I have a Ph.D. and have been writing and editing for 18 years. I started out hearing lots of NOs waaay back in 1996, then an editor said yes, then from there I marketed myself in US/Europe to the trade magazines over time. Now, I have 54 publications, and dozens of chemistry editing assignments that pay $40/hr. Funny thing is, I still get rejected but I just keep on connecting and moving on. Haven’t gotten into blogging, maybe once Im retired. I know I can’t stop self-promotion because connections are needed to get either a f/t or p/t job, but we are fortunate to have Linkedin these days.

  9. Omoye Boroni says:

    This is a lovely post. Facing my fears to me seemed impossible until I came across another article that pushed me back on track. Explained in this post–>http://omoyeboroni.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/i-refuse-to-be-a-prostitute/
    All in all good luck on your first pitch. 😍

  10. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Tiffany!

    Yes, the nervous babbles are never fun 🙂

    And good luck on that first pitch!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  11. Wow, what a wonderful story of kicking fear right in it’s face! I think it’s safe to say that everyone fears being rejected or sounding like they don’t know what they are talking about during an interview, when you really do but your so nervous you start babbling. I will take this story and apply to my life, as I haven’t had the courage to pitch to a magazine yet. Thanks for the wonderful story, and happy writing!

  12. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Katharine!

    Totally agree. I think the trick is to be aware of that response – the fear-induced complete shutdown – so you can have safeguards in place to snap you out of it. Maybe a friend you can call, reading a glowing testimonial from a client, etc.

    I kinda freaked about the business side of things too, primarily legal business structures. Once I bit the bullet and talked to/hired an attorney, it simplified the process tremendously.

    Again, it all came down to taking action instead of sitting there mulling over it 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  13. Steph Weber says:

    Thanks Venkatesh. I think there will always be some kind of fear, even if it’s just hesitation. It’s learning how to compartmentalize that fear and not let it prevent you from moving forward.
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  14. Love how motivational this post is, Steph!

    I react to fear the same way — just shutting down and assuming nothing is going to work out, so don’t even try in the first place. Even though logically, I know, putting yourself out there really pays off!

    To be honest, what gets me the most is the business side of things more than the writing. But the response needs to be the same. You don’t get anywhere until you make the effort.
    Katharine Paljug recently posted…5 Definite Signs That Client is a Bad FitMy Profile

  15. Good story Steph. Fear is still nightmare for many writers. You have overcome it. Thank you.
    venkatesh i khajjidoni recently posted…7 Principles That Every Blogger Should Follow For Happy Blogging JourneyMy Profile

  16. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Nate,

    That phrase – I need to make it my mantra. Hang it over my work area and chant it every morning or something 😉

    Very, very true about momentum. After gaining the two gigs mentioned in my post, I had a bunch of small victories too, which I largely credit with my bolstered confidence.

    But, like you mentioned, that fear creeps back in because of the unknowns of our business – when will the next assignment come through, etc.

    Baby steps 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

    • Cherese Cobb says:

      Steph,
      You know a post is amazing when you feel like you should take action after reading it! I loved when you said that validation felt euphoric…like flipping fear the bird. The fact that you were able to take your prior experience and turn it into $1,500 per month is great! (When I became a writer, everyone kept asking “Can you make a living doing that?–You’re proof.) I went to school to be a teacher, mostly because I was told that I wasn’t cut out for the business or journalism world. I let fear control me then, and every so often it creeps up on me. Then I remember that the worst thing I can hear is “No”–and that little, two letter word can’t kill me.
      Cherese Cobb recently posted…The Most Awesome Images Found on Social Media: 10/20-10/24My Profile

  17. Steph Weber says:

    Hi William,

    Totally agree. I believe there is a lot of truth in the phrase “afraid of success.” Fear and lack of confidence absolutely sabotage our own success.

    Happy to hear you’ve overcome it!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  18. Nate says:

    Steph, awesome post, thank you. I loved: “The validation felt euphoric. It was like flipping fear the bird.” I had never thought of it like that:-).

    Validation, for me, has been a lot about momentum as well. These wins add up and keep me moving forward. It frustrating and exciting because you never know when the next one will come, but when it does, oh man!

    And then you flip fear the bird again!
    Nate recently posted…3 Most Important Techniques I’ve Learned on WordPress (So Far)My Profile

  19. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Victoria!

    Glad this came at just the right time for you.

    I’m always, always super clear with my sources. I ask them for 10 minutes of their time so that I can gather quotes and insight for a story I am pitching to X magazine. I also explain that this allows the editor to get a better feel for the article idea, and in turn, that increases the likelihood of acceptance.

    Then I tell them, “In the event the pitch is accepted and the article assigned, we’ll schedule a more in-depth interview at that time.”

    Most people jump at the chance to chat. And if you’re only asking for 10 minutes of their time, that’s not a huge commitment for them either.

    Admittedly, when I first started out, I didn’t think people would be so eager to talk. Turns out, they are!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  20. Hi Steph,

    Loved reading your post.

    I can relate to your story very much so. When I first got into this business my major fear was not that I would get rejected, but that my ideas would be accepted and then I would have to deliver on what I promised.

    Several years later and several assignments under my belt, I can honestly say that I do not posses that same fear anymore, thank God!
    William Ballard recently posted…Freelance Writers: What is Your Favorite Writing Spot?My Profile

  21. Steph Weber says:

    Marya,

    So glad you’re using the resources around here. Even just making that list of life experiences has started to crack the fear facade.

    As moms, we too often underestimate our knowledge, value, and worth. But, it’s all there. You just have to connect the dots!

    Keep working the steps and putting in the time – the picture will become much more clear as you do.
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  22. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Elke!

    Congrats on landing the gig. As Carol has mentioned before, starting out with local mags is a great way to break in. You can snag that clip and then use it to move on to bigger and better 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  23. I really needed to hear this. One question though. Do you tell the interviewee that it is a preliminary interview and the story is not assigned yet?
    Victoria Terrinoni recently posted…Exciting news!My Profile

  24. Marya says:

    Thanks for a great article.

    I am new here and still in that place of paralyzing fear. I just made my list of life experiences suggested in the How to Find Your Best Markets session.

    It is a tad overwhelming for a woman who has been a homemaker for 20 years to feel like an expert in anything and finding the courage to approach the markets that I’ve identified!
    Marya recently posted…A Peek Into the Lives of Two Work At Home MomsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      You’re kidding, right? As a mom you deal with doctors, with children and parenting, with schools, with shopping and retail stores, with cooking and food, with travel…so many areas you know something about that could be leveraged as a starting point to write for businesses in that niche or for magazines.

  25. Elke Feuer says:

    Wow! Awe inspiring post, Steph.

    I busted fear by accepting a freelance gig for a local magazine. I didn’t pitch, merely sent a suggestion for the magazine. I’d never done freelancing before, but one of my goals was doing writing projects outside my comfort zone. Jumped and never looked back!
    Elke Feuer recently posted…20 Inspirational quotes to start your dayMy Profile

  26. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Sophie!

    Thanks for swinging by. I’m a regular reader of BAFB, too!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  27. Steph Weber says:

    Mary Jane,

    Aww, thanks! Doubt really doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  28. Steph Weber says:

    Right, Carol.

    Razwana – I also am a geek for research, so I’ll include that in my pitch/LOA as a sort of “credential” too.
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  29. Steph Weber says:

    Ann,

    Congrats on pushing past that fear and pitching the e-mag. As I just told someone the other day, “You’re guaranteed zilch in the assignments department if you don’t put yourself out there.”

    Super scary at first, but I promise it gets easier.

    And opinions differ on this, but consider following up with the editor in a week or two. Don’t be afraid to politely “check in.”
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  30. Amen, Steph! You don’t know you’re good enough until *after* you try. 🙂
    Sophie Lizard recently posted…$3,240.00 of Prizes for Guest Bloggers: Enter Our 6th PitchfestMy Profile

  31. Steph Weber says:

    Thanks, Lori.

    I probably should invest in a few more jars 😉 Love the jar slapping visual!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  32. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Jake!

    Thanks. I’m really my own worst enemy, aren’t I?

    Just think of how much focus and power we’d conjure up if we just let go of that self-doubt once and for all 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…3 V’s of Unconventional Business BrandingMy Profile

  33. Steph Weber says:

    Hi Razwana!

    In reality, I think it takes fewer “credentials” than we think.

    In my case, those credentials were what signaled, “Hey, look! You passed this crazy hard test to earn this credential. You probably know quite a bit about this topic, don’t ya think?!?”

    Let’s say you’ve worked in HR before. Why not pitch an HR trade magazine? You’ll have the background to bolster your pitch and will at least know some of the lingo.

    Nine times out of ten, you’ll be interviewing someone anyways for the trade mags, so it won’t be all on your shoulders, so to speak.
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Exactly true — many writers don’t realize that no editor expects *them* to be the expert in their story. You just need to know enough about the topic to go out and find the right experts, and to know whether what they’re telling you has credibility.

  34. Thanks for this post. Why is it that we doubt ourselves so much! You inspire me. Thanks again.

  35. Ann says:

    I recently pitched a story idea to a well established e-magazine so hope to hear back. I did have fear and sat on it for three days but several people who read the story thought it was excellent and encouraged me to go for it. So here’s hoping I get a reply.
    Ann recently posted…Love is a MagnifierMy Profile

  36. Great story and so wonderful to read how you ‘powered through’ your doubts/misgivings at every phase of the project. Those gremlins in our head can be nasty little naysayers, but if you just slap a jar over them and move forward, it’s amazing what can happen. Thx for the inspiration!

  37. Steph Weber says:

    Awesome, Kim!

    The fear we build up in our heads can be so, so paralyzing. But you’ve already broken through that by pitching. It really does get easier each time you do it and you become less “attached” to the words each time, too.

    When you start out, you painstakingly analyze every word in the LOA. You’ll get faster and faster as you progress.

    And really, the interview portion isn’t as bad as we tend to think either. I recently snagged a $1/word magazine article and did an in-depth two hour interview with a source. It was a piece of cake!

    You’ll get there too 🙂
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  38. Steph Weber says:

    Hey everybody! Just a quick note that it appears the comments section is acting up and putting the replies out of order.

    Carol has been notified. I’ll keep commenting but it may just be wonky for a bit 🙂 Thanks!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Matching Content and Brand: What I Learned by Watching Sesame StreetMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yes, our comments don’t want to thread these days…my tech team is looking at the issue. Until then, just reference the name of the person you want to respond to. Sorry about the inconvenience!

  39. Steph Weber says:

    So true, John!

    It’s something I’d heard many times before – essentially use what ya got – but I kept discounting it in my own situation. We all certainly have knowledge from previous/current employment that prospective clients would find helpful. And let’s not forgot life experience in general!

    The trick is to pinpoint that knowledge, line it up with the right client, and actually believe in yourself 🙂

    Best wishes going forward!
    Steph Weber recently posted…Is It Time to F5 Your Perspective?My Profile

  40. Wow, way to overcome the self-saboteur!

    Beating that self-doubt is definitely something I need to work on as well.

  41. This is such a great story!

    I usually allow fear of not knowing enough when I pitch a blog a guest post. Not sure I’ll ever get over it – how many credentials do you need to have before you’re ‘good enough’?
    Razwana Wahid recently posted…Professional or amateur: You decideMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Razwana, the answer to your question is…none. I know from experience. Because I’m a college dropout, I was haunted for years by feelings that I was unqualified. But nobody else thought so!

      The great thing about freelance writing is that it doesn’t require “credentials” — it just requires good, creative writing. If you’ve got that and people can see that, they’ll want to hire you.

  42. Kim says:

    Inspiring article, thank you!
    I just pitched my first mainstream magazine article. I already contacted – via email – my potential sources.
    So, IF I get accepted, THEN I will feel the fear, because then I will have to interview those sources for real!
    But just by pitching the article, I’ve finally put myself out there. Let’s see what happens next!

  43. Thanks for the inspiration. There is a magazine for every field of employment, and I’ll start with what’s under my nose right now.

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