3 Freelance Writing Nuggets of Wisdom for When You Feel Like Quitting

3 Freelance Writing Nuggets of Wisdom for When You Feel Like Quitting

It’s crazy to think about when I first started my freelance writing career.

I had just moved to a new city and was searching for jobs when I stumbled across an article about freelance writing online. I had no idea what it really entailed but I dove right in because I had always loved writing, so I figured, why not?

But jumping right in without looking may have been a mistake.

Freelance writing is a much more difficult career to get your start in than many other professions. Essentially, you’re starting a business. Your service is your writing and, like any other business, you have to market, build a positive reputation and grow.

And also like any other business, it’s going to take a while before you start gaining traction.

At first, you may not be able to secure jobs. It might be a while before you even land your first  high paying client. The fact that you’re not making a full time income right away can be very discouraging.

It was for me. There were countless times I wanted to throw in the towel and just quit.

But I persevered, hunkered down behind my laptop and remembered a few key lessons that prevented me from giving up.

Now I’m a full time freelance writer and can honestly say that sticking to it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer or need some encouragement, here are a few reminders for when the weight of this career choice gets a little too heavy.

1. Building a client base takes time

Unless you have a lot of connections, you’re going to have to build your client list from scratch.

And as you can imagine, this takes time.

You’ll have to research publications in your niche, pitch different clients, send out  samples and provide high quality work that people will want more of. Doing this — and doing it right — can take a large chunk of time.

And not everyone you pitch will want to work with you. Sometimes they just don’t need the work and other times they might not be all that impressed with your experience so far. This might feel like a kick to the gut and believe me, you might want to quit after your first few — or dozen — rejections. I sure did.

Having been in this game for a few years now, I’ve noticed a few tactics that help increase the odds of success. This is what I do personally that might help up your chances of clients responding to your pitch or rehiring you for future work:

  • Produce a very clean, grammatically correct pitch
  • Make sure your pitch follows the publication’s guidelines
  • Send high quality samples
  • Respond to emails in a timely manner
  • Put forth your full effort in each piece provided
  • Turn out your articles in a reasonable timeframe
  • Ask questions if you’re not clear on instructions for a piece

Doing the above can help clients see how serious you are about working with them and it’ll also increase the likelihood of them wanting to work with you on a continuous basis.

The goal for freelance writing is to have a decent list of clients you can work for long-term. This will provide you with the stability you need to feel secure.

quitting my job2. If you put in the work, you’ll be rewarded

Many people love the idea of being a freelance writer because you can work from the comfort of your home on your big cozy couch in your PJs. However, because you can have so many luxuries at work, you have to have one hell of a work ethic.

You need to be able to force yourself to work and be productive even on days when you’re feeling super lazy or tired or just bored with the topic you’re writing. If you don’t work, your business as a freelance writer won’t grow.

Think about it like a salesman who works for commission. The person who’s going to make more will be the one who makes the most calls and gives the best pitch.

Freelance writing isn’t much different than being a salesman. You have to continuously put yourself out there and pitch to companies. The only difference is that you’re selling your writing instead of a product.

The amount of work you put into growing your freelance business will be directly related to how much you get out of it.

So before you decide to quit, ask yourself if you’re giving it your all. Are you expecting too much while not putting in the work to support those ambitions?

Just remember that if you work hard to meet your goals, you’ll reach them much faster than you would if you continue to sit about contemplating giving up.

3. Be patient — building a business takes time

Most businesses aren’t overnight successes. It can take a while to see growth. You’re starting new with next to nothing on your freelance writing resume.

That’s like new businesses trying to sell a product without having any reviews. How likely are you to purchase something when you have nothing to ensure you that you’ll like what you get? Probably not very likely.

That’s why businesses take a very long time to get off the ground.

The same is true for your freelance writing career. If you’re expecting to make a full time income in only a month and land every client you pitch to, you’ll be very discouraged and disappointed when that doesn’t happen. This mindset can actually be sabotaging your potential success.

I had really high expectations right off the bat and when I was rejected time and time again for failing to have experience, I wanted to stop. I even looked at other 9-5 jobs before I realized that this is just a part of the process.

Just remember that building your business might take longer than you initially anticipated. Have a little patience and keep working toward your goals.

Freelance writing is not an easy career choice but it is worth it if you’re willing to put in the work. You’ll have some ups and downs along the way but remembering these few things can help you stick with this career so you can live the life you truly want.

How many of you have ever felt like throwing in the towel when it comes to freelance writing? What made you stick with it through the tough times?

Filed Under: Freelancing

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24 comments

  • MIDHUN V M says:

    This post came at the right time
    for me.

    I was thinking about giving
    up.

    You made me realize that
    it is all part of the process and
    we just have to be patient.

    Thank You, Bella

  • Holland Webb says:

    You absolutely nailed it in this post. I’ve been freelancing about 14 months – 8 of those full time. That’s incredibly speedy for a ramp up, and I have to remind myself of that when expectations get out of hand, disappointment follows, and work slacks off. I shared your article on LinkedIn and Twitter so other freelancer friends could see it. Thanks for writing this piece.

  • Thanks for the encouraging post. Trying to make it own your own writing is not easy and it’s great to know we’re all out here sharing the same struggles.

  • Udit Khanna says:

    Thanks for encouraging all the freelancers by posting this article. As I am a freelancer and also teaching digital marketing course in Delhi I am sure that I can explain much more than before about freelancing. Yes, I was facing some problems but after reading your article I am confident to grab any projects now.

  • Serena says:

    Very inspirational as I am just starting to consider this line of work. Thanks for sharing.

  • Quincy Cahilig says:

    Thank you so much for this inspiring article!

    I quit my full-time job in November 2017 and decided to become a freelance writer. It is really a rough start for me, but somehow I get projects and clients.

    I am optimistic that this “business” will run smooth eventually if I will not throw in the towel.

  • I have been terrified to just put all my time into freelancing. I work three jobs, two where I write, I have a large portfolio of writing but I don’t want to do hourly anymore.. I want to branch out. I am worried Ill never find the time to dedicate to it so I won’t be able to move out of working for someone else. Thank you for the article it gives me some much needed motivation.

  • Mary V says:

    I am an Accidental Freelance Writer. I answered an ad, and by some miracle, got hired to write monthly blogs for an online business’s clients. They loved my work so much that within a month, they had turned ALL their client’s blogs over to me. I really enjoy it but I need about 20 more blogs/month in order to quit my day-job.
    Are you suggesting I put together a marketing packet and pitch my work to similar businesses (their competitors,) or to other industries? I am actually writing about an industry I only know from their web pages; I’m intimidated by the suggestion I write about other industries I’m not knowledgeable about.
    Thanks for the article– it’s good to know I’m not out here floating alone in an open sea.

  • I got my first client immediately, but it was a small job. The hurdles to building a real client base seem insurmountable at times. I was about to start applying for part-time (non-writing) jobs, so thanks for the words of encouragement.

  • Craig says:

    I’m interested in becoming a freelance writer, but don’t know where to start to find clients. I’ve published technical papers before, but not for some time. Any pointers on how to find potential clients, please?

  • Kylie Sonter says:

    Hi Bella, thanks for your words of encouragement. After 30 years of working in the hospitality industry, I’m trying to break into freelance writing but no-one seems to want to take my talents on. There is such a narrow window of opportunity to hit the right client at the right time. Luckily I’m a determined -a.k.a. stubborn- person.

  • Kylie Sonter says:

    Hi Bella, thanks for your words of encouragement. After 30 years of working in the hospitality industry, I’m trying to break into freelance writing but no-one seems to want to take my talents on. There is such a narrow window of opportunity to hit the right client at the right time. Luckily I’m a determined -a.k.a. stubborn- person.

  • Fumiko says:

    Thank you for great article! It’s really encouraging! I’ve been writing a blog about a year to be freelancer. But I quitter, because it’s super hard. I didn’t know if it’s worth pursuing or not, but I reconsider to start writing again after I read your article!

  • C Bailey says:

    To Mary V, the Accidental Freelance Artist … Don’t work for your competitors. Firstly, if your ‘boss’ who is paying you now finds out, they will dump you. If you do manage to keep them all secret, your blogs will tend to focus on the same rhetoric and become stale, thusly, eventually putting you out of business again.
    Try either a new niche or a new avenue, say writing newsletters for your already clients, an email which goes out to their employees or clients on upcoming events or a company employee spotlight.
    Think twice before you write for competing clients. It doesn’t even sound right …
    :p

  • Cobus van der Merwe says:

    Hi Bella

    I don’t want to sound negative, but I really did not see this post as “three nuggets of gold”.

    Why did you ignore the posts with questions to you? If you put yourself out there in cyber space, follow up.

    Cobus

  • DEBBIE says:

    Hi Bella, thank you so much for this article. I love to write! I have written articles in the past for a community newspaper on different topics. I have a full time job in law enforcement and am eager to began my journey as a freelance photojournalist. I just really don’t know where to begin and if I will actually have the time to dedicate to writing while continuing my primary career. I am well versed on a variety of topics, having a hard time deciding what kind of client should be my focus. I will be retiring in about four years, after a 29 year stint. I love reading The Write Life blog.

  • This post came just when I needed it. I’m in the very early stages of freelancing, admittedly, but it’s difficult to convince yourself it’s worth keeping going when you’re not getting the business you need to, effectively, sustain yourself. I’ve just had to fork out on a £600 laptop after my last one packed in on a buy now pay later deal, so knowing I have to earn a certain amount of money certainly puts a lot of pressure on me to achieve.

    However, whenever I consider giving up, I start looking at houses in the local area. It sounds weird, but my dream is to one day own a house–even if it’s just something I can fix up and sell on. Is it definitely achievable? No. Is it something to dream about? Yes. And how will I know if I don’t try, after all?

  • Maddie says:

    “Just remember that if you work hard to meet your goals, you’ll meet them much faster than you would if you continue to sit about contemplating giving up.”

    Thank you, Bella, for the encouragement! Aspiring freelance writer here, so it’s good to be reminded of this in the beginning of my writing career.

    Will definitely be referencing this throughout my journey.

    Happy writing,
    Maddie Bailey