The Freelance Writers Journey, Chapter 14

Part of the reason I got into writing in the first place is simply due to the power of words. Especially when those words are thoughtfully composed in the right order, to create a powerful story. Almost all of the best storytelling devices like plays, movies, and books, rely on this power.

Ever since I was young, I wanted to use this power in a way that captivated the audience and helped them along their journey. I definitely over-romanticized the concept of writing in junior high and high school, thinking that I could become the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack London, or Kurt Vonnegut. Just not Ernest Hemingway. Nobody can touch that guy.

Now as a 25 year old, I see the power of words manifested in a new way. People want to pay me to write content influencing others to make certain buying decisions. For a writer to get paid for their work, either their words need to be so entertaining and thought-provoking that they sell merely on that merit… or their words have to be convincing enough to move money toward a certain destination.

So now it’s fascinating to see how people can be impacted by the words that I write. I could draft a blog that helps someone make a different decision about their health and fitness. I could edit a presentation that convinces a TV studio in the UK to purchase a certain computer program. I could write business advice that helps a surfboard shop in Hawaii make it through this crazy season. I could even write words that persuade a new dentist in Albuquerque, New Mexico to go with a different solution for their storage.

Some of this power is good, and some of it is purely neutral. However, I also wonder if I have ever used words that influenced someone negatively, like they read something I wrote and it convinced them to make an unhealthy decision. I’m not sure, but it makes me increasingly wary about the kind of jobs that I accept. 

Wins In January and February:

I haven’t posted since the first week of January, so I’ll talk about how things have been going for the past six weeks.

My client-base really started to solidify. I wrapped up a couple of projects that started back in the fall, and got new work from others. As I look at the rest of 2021, I think most of the clients I have now will still be with me at the start of 2022. Most of the people I work with have a long-term focus and goals to match, instead of a quicker project they need help with.

It’s an incredible opportunity to build relationships, and help build something wonderful together. I’m really grateful for the people I get to work with, all over the world. As I read “Do The Work” by Steven Pressfield, he mentioned that as you start your dream project, the people you hang out with will change. I’ve definitely seen that. Of course, I also moved cities at the same time.

Challenges In January and February:

As new clients came in and handed me a lot more work, I have had to reevaluate my clientele. There were a couple of projects that ended, and I didn’t make a move to continue the relationship. Not because I didn’t like them, but because you can only have so many priorities. So the downside of getting a ton of new work is saying “no” to other opportunities that come up.

The same goes for Upwork. I have declined to apply for almost every invitation I’ve received during the past couple of months. It’s weird, because back in September and October I was desperate for someone, anyone, to send a job my way on that platform.

Finally, there are clients whose goals and values don’t align with mine, and it’s starting to show. I don’t want to use words supporting something I don’t believe in, or something I see as harmful. So I am in a process of considering how I want to move forward with some of the projects. However, parting ways looks like it will be best for everyone. Because freelance writing is so often wrapped up with sales and marketing, you have to be really careful about the things you help to market.

Final Note:

My first goal was to generate enough profit through this business that I didn’t have to get a different job. I’ve been living in that reality for the past few months. The next goal is to start making as much as I did at my old full-time job. I had an encouraging talk with a trusted friend today that showed me that it’s possible. So now I’m working toward that goal!

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