When you’re trying to navigate a path to freelance success, do you give up at the first sign of struggle? Or do you keep going with a warrior mindset until you find the way?
When I was a newbie freelance writer, I spent a lot of time going nowhere. I read hundreds of how-to articles. I studied everything the so-called gurus published. Even the “ninja hacks” seemed to fall short. But I wasn’t making progress.
Ever felt like the path to freelance success is a treacherous one?
You write queries and LOIs, and all you get is crickets or rejection. You get close to landing a client, and the deal falls apart. Your niche skills are a perfect fit for a writing job, but you don’t land the gig. Productivity suffers. Creativity dwindles.
The path to freelance success isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the struggle. When you have a warrior mindset, you’ll find a way. On my own journey, I discovered 3 ancient principles every freelancer needs to know:
1. Expect change
Change is one constant you can always count on as a freelance writer. It’s a key principle of ancient Chinese philosophy that dates back more than 3,000 years.
You need a warrior mindset to deal with changes like:
- The flow of freelance writing clients and projects
- A new editor gets hired and the freelance relationship changes
- Corporate mergers and consolidations occur that impact your niche
- You get an assignment, turn in a draft, and the gig morphs into something else
- Or maybe you decide it’s time to pursue work in another niche
Everything is always changing. You’re either making progress as a freelance writer, or you’re not. And when one assignment comes to an end, there will always be new clients who need help.
Here’s an example: I really wanted to land a gig as a regular columnist for an online journal. So I pitched the editor. But it took three years of follow up, before I actually got the contract.
And you know what? In three years, my writing style changed and improved. And by the time I landed the gig, so did the focus of the column. If I had given up at the slightest hint of change, I wouldn’t have this client today.
Once you understand that everything is always and forever changing, you’ll start to find a groove in the day-to-day hustle of freelancing to keep writing, marketing, and growing.
2. Clients are waiting to hear from you
Here’s another principle of ancient Chinese philosophy, I discovered: We are all connected in some way.
If you’re struggling with landing assignments or getting results from your marketing efforts, it’s easy to think nobody is hiring freelancers.
But look at it with a warrior mindset, and you’ll realize there’s more than enough work for freelancers out there. Clients are waiting to hear from you. Keep pitching, and the universe will connect you with clients that need your help.
Here’s an example: When I pitched an event marketing agency earlier this year, I knew they were considering other writers. So I decided to differentiate myself by focusing on the copywriting I’ve done for Japanese companies.
And that turned out to be the one thing that made me a perfect fit for their copywriting project.
Want to land more freelance work? Put yourself out there. Be real. And the right clients that need your help will find you.
3. You are responsible for your success
Ever hit a point during the day when you’re feeling drained, your brain feels foggy, or you’re about ready to swear off being a freelance writer forever?
It happens. Every day, you have a limited supply of energy. And when you understand this ancient Chinese principle, you basically have two choices:
- Waste time and energy on things that won’t help you be a successful freelance writer, or
- Focus your attention on marketing, writing, and activities that will help you move up and earn more.
Here’s an example: This summer I closed a Japanese client solely via email. If you know anything about Japanese business people, you’ll understand that they love meeting many times in person before anything gets done. So, paying 50 percent upfront for a blog article from an unknown writer without an in-person meeting or phone call is somewhat miraculous.
I completed the assignment and got paid. My client gave me some constructive feedback, and then chose not to continue the contract. I could have moaned and disagreed with his decision, and let that negative energy take over. But instead, I took his advice to find out how to improve.
Evaluate your progress
If a freelance assignment doesn’t turn out the way you expect, your marketing efforts aren’t paying off, or you’re not happy with how much you’re earning, take a closer look at yourself:
- Why didn’t the client like my work?
- Should I raise my rates?
- Is my approach to writing LOIs and queries effective?
- Do I need to ask my client more questions to clarify an assignment?
- How can I improve my marketing efforts?
When this kind of thinking becomes routine, you’ll have more energy and focus to take action and keep moving forward.
The power of a warrior mindset
When you approach freelance writing with a warrior mindset, you can overcome any setback, disappointment, or challenge. Follow these three ancient principles, and you’ll find a way.
Brandon Chin is a Jamaican-Chinese freelance copywriter and novelist who writes about Japanese culture.