I’m a pretty good writer. I have both real-world experience and a Ph.D. in English to back it up. And today I also have over 1,200 five-star reviews and have worked with over 2,000 satisfied clients as further proof. But back in 2018, even I doubted my abilities when I launched my freelancing copywriting business. And sometimes, the thought of not being able to make it still creeps in.
Damn you, imposter syndrome.
But what I did learn is that even though I knew I was a pretty good writer, my clients are more impressed with my writing than I am. So I guess I’m better than I thought I was. It’s one of the many lessons I’ve learned over these past four and a half years running my business.
What else have I learned that maybe you’ll find some inspiration in or learn in your journey? Read on, reader.
“I just have to be better than the people paying me.”
Photo Credit: nadia_bormotova on iStock
When we get that itch to go into business for ourselves, the urge is there for perfection. Every little detail has to be in place. Or you might even tell yourself that you have to be an expert at the service you’re selling. So you wait.
And that’s just not true.
We are ever-evolving, learning, and growing, and you’ll evolve, learn, and grow along your entrepreneurial journey. And the best way to do this is by doing. You can read all the books you want, take hours of courses, earn a degree, but until you DO, you really don’t know what’s at stake.
The reality is that many people who hire out help for their businesses are looking to save time. They also may feel like their skills in a certain area are lacking. So first and foremost, they’re looking for someone to save them time. You get to be their timesaver. And you don’t have to be an expert at first. You just need to be better than the person hiring you. Expertise can come later, though I strongly believe we don’t ever fully master something. There’s always room to grow.
Think of it this way: Say you’re a copywriter. You rate your skills today as a 3 out of 5. There are millions of people whose writing skills are at a 1 or 2. Those are the people you get to help when you’re a 3. There’s a market for your skills
“People will pay me for my writing. And they’ll pay me a lot.”
When I first started freelancing, I started on Fiverr. And I started my prices low. And I wallowed in my low prices for much longer than I needed to. The demand was there. I was busy. But I was afraid to raise my prices, thinking people wouldn’t pay me. But I was wrong.
I now make hundreds of dollars an hour as a copywriter, and people aren’t afraid to pay it.
Now I’m more confident about raising my prices and not backing down. If someone can’t afford your rates, then they’re not the client for you. It’s not a you problem. There is someone out there for them, just not you.
People will likely pay you more than what you’re charging. Remember that.
“I have more time than I thought I did.”
I’m a consummate procrastinator. I still procrastinate way too much and sometimes feel like I don’t have a lot of time. But when I first launched my business and realized it was something I really wanted to do, it was astonishing how much time I found in my day to make it happen.
That time might not come in large, concentrated chunks. It might be small pockets of time here and there. But when I audited my time and how I was really using it — and more importantly, wasting it — I realized I had a lot more time in my day than at first glance.
Do an audit of your time. And whether you have an established business or you’re just launching, it’s important to treat your business as a business. Schedule out dedicated time to work toward your goals. The momentum will propel you forward.
“I have a lot more confidence in myself than many people around me have in themselves. Or a crazy streak. Which one, I don’t know.”
I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a risk-taker. I do take some risks, but I have to be pretty certain they’ll pay off. But I do think I have a decent amount of confidence. And after looking at many people around me, maybe I have a lot more confidence than I think.
I see so many people who are curious about what I do and who want to do something similar by launching their own businesses, but they lack confidence. They don’t think they can do it. I’ve spoken to so many friends and family members who say they want to be a freelancer, I arm them with some advice and tools, and then it fizzles for whatever reason. But it’s usually a confidence issue more than anything else.
I’ve also never cared what anyone around me thinks of me, so maybe that makes me more prone to experimenting.
“You’re never too old to follow your dream.”
My dream as a kid was to be a writer. And I took a long and winding path to get there. I thought I had to follow a written path for me first.
I worked in higher education for nearly 20 years before launching my freelancing business. I launched it when I was 37. I quit my full-time job at 41 because of my writing.
Working in higher ed, I worked with so many 18–22-year-olds who thought they had to have it all figured out. Our higher ed system and parents push it on them. Declare a major, get the degree, get the job, retire, and then maybe you’ll have some time in retirement to foster your passions.
I did everything I was supposed to. I got a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. and had a successful career in higher ed. But that really wasn’t my dream. My dream was on the back burner. I wanted to write and get paid for it. Even a little bit would have been nice. But what I found when I pursued my dream at 37, I got paid a lot for it. And it feels good.
You’re never too old to start a business venture or chase your dream. I’m still building and growing now at 42, and I’m excited to see what new passions arise and where they take me.
The entrepreneurial road is bumpy but worthwhile. I guarantee you’ll learn lessons about yourself that will surprise you — maybe both good and bad. The vast majority of my revelations have been good. Just for the simple fact you’re engaging in the process is commendable and should teach you something about yourself.
Embrace the journey. Learn something new about yourself. And never give up on your dream.