Stop Being Your Own Worst Freelancing Enemy

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2008/08/stop-being-your-own-worst-freelancing-enemy/

by Jodee Redmond

When Megatron posted the FWJ Mega Icebreaker, I noticed that there were some readers who shared that really wanted to write but that they were afraid to apply for jobs. I really felt for all of you, because I have a pretty good idea about what that’s like.

True Confession Time: I feel that way sometimes, too.

There. I said it. And since I’m among friends, I’ll share some more. When I’m feeling particularly insecure, I even imagine how a prospective client would respond when I send in my resume and samples. It goes something like this:

Prospective client opens up e-mail and starts to read. His/her eyes open wider in shock and amusement. Starts giggling and then breaks out into hysterical laughter at the idea that this person named Jodee would have the audacity to even think that she could do this job…..

Yep, that’s how bad it gets sometimes. So, how do I deal with those feelings? I apply anyway.

Here’s the thing: Even if that scenario did take place, unless someone is rude enough to e-mail me and tell me (which hasn’t happened yet), how will I ever know? I have no control over what someone else thinks about me and my work. I have to give it my best shot and let it go.

The good news is that enough people have liked what I do that I make a living from my writing and for that I am most appreciative. Does it mean that I feel confident 100 percent of the time? Nope. But I keep on plugging away anyway.

Even the best batters in baseball don’t hit every one out of the park and you won’t get hired for every job you apply for. But, once you start getting hired for gigs, you won’t remember all the ones you didn’t get. They don’t matter nearly as much as the ones that you do get hired for. And if you never apply for anything, you have zero chance of getting hired.

So, here’s my challenge for all you FWJ readers who are afraid to apply for something…the next time you see a job advertised that you even think you could do, apply for it. Just throw an application in there. Present yourself in the best way you can. Then do it again for the next one you are interested in.

Rinse and repeat.

Then be sure to let all of us know when you get hired so we can share in your triumph.

Comments

  1. Jodee,

    You will never know how much I needed a pick-me-up tonight. I just realized that we have much more month than money, my babies are leaving me by going to Kindergarten this week and our a/c just died (we’re in Sacramento).

    I was feeling blue — I think I’ll print and tape your words next to my computer. I love the baseball analogy.

    Thanks again,

    Wendy

  2. Jodee,
    An excellent post. I know I feel this way too, but like you I apply because I do know that if I don’t apply I won’t get it. There really is not harm in trying.

  3. This is so true. If I’m ever in doubt, I apply anyway. So many employers get so many mounds of applications that often they don’t even reply, so I know it’s not personal if I don’t get a job–it’s just because the competition was so fierce. Though I believed I could probably do okay in the FWJ Idol contest, I certainly didn’t realistically think that I’d make it to the final four.

    To everyone who is doubting themselves: in 99 cases out of 100, your experience and credentials and enthusiasm are far more valuable than you realize. Really!

  4. Great post, Jodee. Although most people think I am very confident, and on the outside maybe I am, on the inside I still have my doubts. Even though I know I can do it, because I have done it before, there are still times when I am like you Jodee and I wonder if they are laughing at me. One example that comes to mind is one time a prospective client asked me my rate, and I responded with a dollar amount per blog post. His email response was “Call me.” I hate the phone and am a clumsy phone talker. I am not good on the phone and am hearing impaired just enough that I can’t hear many men’s voices. I generally prefer to do all business via email for these reasons. But I really wanted this client and didn’t want to inconvenience him during this stage of the game, so I called. I was terrified that he was going to scoff at my rate, and I had prepared (in writing) what I was going to say in defense of myself, hoping he wouldn’t laugh at me while we were on the phone. Turns out, he thought my rate wasn’t high enough and wanted to discuss it with me over the phone to make sure I understood the work the job would entail and make sure I still thought the rate was fair. He is now one of my highest paying clients and probably my favorite to work for.

    Wendy — I am sorry you’re feeling blue, and I’m sorry the twins are leaving you. :-( My little baby nephew starts kindergarten this week, and my brother is a wreck. They grow up so fast. Seems like he was born yesterday and his socks were as big as my thumb.

  5. @ Wendy: I’m glad you found the post helpful. It wasn’t an easy one to write; I’m not very comfortable putting myself out there like that.

    Hang in there, hon. It will get better.

    @ Jenny: Thank you! :)

    @ Megatron: You got as far as you did in FWJ Idol because you deserved to.

    @ Amy: I never would have guessed that you felt that way sometimes, too. You always seem to be so together. That client you described sounds like a real keeper. I bet you did a big happy dance after that conversation. :D

  6. Jodee — I am not so together always, believe me. LOL And yes, I was SO relieved after that. But you know what, each time I go through something like that, I find that the next time it’s easier. I always tell that to new writers who come to me for advice, that even though the rejection or putting yourself out there and applying is scary/painful, it gets easier. The more times we go through it, and the more times we succeed, I think it builds confidence that it is possible to get the gig. I also like that you have encouraged people to start giving feedback about the gigs they have gotten through the job listings, because it is so much fun to see when someone from this blog has gotten a gig. I’m such a dork. I sit behind the computer screen going YAY! And my pet rabbits look at me like I need to be medicated. :-)

  7. Jodee,

    What a wonderful piece! I’m a writer new to the site and a fairly new freelancer (I’ve had 2 paying jobs so far w/pretty good pay) with no formal college training I get pretty discouraged thinking I don’t have what it takes, but at 43 and 4 kids later I’m finally just saying “What the hell”! Writing is my passion, there’s not a day that goes by that I haven’t written something. (I’m self taught, Thanks Barnes and Noble and the local library!) your words of wisdom and encouragment gave me just that extra needed push. Among friends you are! Keep up the great work. The best to you and Deb.
    Tammy
    Olympia,WA.

  8. This hit a chord with me, too. Call me paranoid, but I KNOW they look at my C.V. and laugh. And yet I send out queries too, as long as I think I have any kind of shot at the job. So far, I haven’t had many takers. Perhaps my tenuous confidence should be balanced with a smarter query letter…

  9. Amy, I am the same way about using the phone. I speak very well, but I am slightly hard of hearing and I have trouble hearing both high and low pitches. When I was working FT recently, I kept being told by my boss that I had terrible listening skills and never paid attention to anything because I had to keep asking people to repeat things. I made an appointment with an ENT and it turns out that I am not a terrible listener; I just have a nerve-based hearing loss.

  10. Jodee, and everyone, thanks for your honesty. I feel insecure a lot, and then I feel terrible because I feel insecure. But I make myself do certain things, like applying for writing jobs–what can they say, but no? And sometimes they might even say yes.

  11. I get this feeling when I apply, when I send in a query or even when I send in a requested manuscript. The apprehension is natural (at least that’s what I tell myself). But like you said Jodee, you just have to do it anyway.

    There was an article in one of the writing magazines I get by a very young writer (started getting published when she was still in high school). She said that she did it by just bombarding the market – she would have 20 queries out at any one time. I’m not to that place yet, but I figure if I keep consistently plugging away eventually the yes’s will out number the no’s!

  12. I just wanted to say thank-you for this post. I checked the leads yesterday and didn’t apply to any. When I finished checking the ads his morning, there were several I would have liked to apply to but felt I wasn’t qualified for.

    It seems that since I have found a few lower paying clients to give me some work, I almost feel like I am not good enough for anything better. I read job ads, think about applying, and then talk myself out of it. As a freelance writer I do not receive feedback on most of the work I do, and it makes it hard to know if my work is great or just sub-par. This post has given be the courage to try anyways.

    Thanks again,
    Kathleen

  13. The only jobs I no longer apply for are those that state “degree required.” I applied for one that said “degree highly recommended,” which to me suggests they would like someone with a degree but are open to those with experience only, and got an email back criticizing me for wasting the employer’s time when he preferred those with degrees not just experience. Being ridiculed once was enough for me.

  14. @ Ann G:
    I am so sorry you experienced that! What an unprofessional maroon!(Thank you Bugs Bunny for that beautiful word). I would say dance for joy that you aren’t working for such a person and in such a negative environment. Or, as my friend says about things along that line, “They don’t deserve you” :-)

    @ Jodee:
    Thank you! What a beautiful and appropriate topic for today. Coincidentally, I blogged about ‘successes and failures’ yesterday because of things I had been reading here. :-)

    @ Everyone:
    I have learned not to think of ‘failures’ as such, but to think of them more as signposts along my path in this journey we call life. For me, ‘successes’ are like coming across signposts that read, “Well done! Keep moving forward”.

    When I have setbacks (ie ‘failures’) it is like coming upon signposts that read, “Wrong way – please take another path” or “Ooops! You’re trying to run before you can walk. Please practice walking some more and then come back this way again.”

    There have been a couple of gigs I have applied for and not gotten, but later applied for and DID get. The reasons are because if I got a rejection letter than contained info about why I didn’t get it, I used that to make myself better qualified the next time around. If I didn’t get info, I still ‘did my homework’ and worked on things related to that position so next time there was an opening I would have a better shot.

    For me, those rejections are either no big deal because its part of this business, or a catalyst for ‘improving my craft’. Currently, I am trying to land a dream gig, and the process is grueling. I think I may be in a little over my head, but I know I can do the job. If I get it – awesome! If I don’t, I will keep working on the skills I need for the job and apply again in the future. One day, I WILL get the gig – its only a matter of WHEN. ;-)

    Yes, its disappointing when I get rejections – especially when its for gigs I really want. However, I don’t let them hold me back and I don’t allow them to become an excuse to give up or not continue to pursue my dreams (which could so easily happen).

    I allow myself to be bummed out for a little bit (to get it out of my system). Then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward. As Jodee so eloquently stated, its all in the perspective. :-)

  15. Thanks, Dani.

    I still remember my first official rejection letter. I was 12 and our writing project was to write and illustrate a children’s book and send it to a publisher. I did and was one of the only people to actually hear back from the publisher, so I figure that meant they’d at least looked at mine.

    Most of the time, rejections roll right off, but this one guy got to me. And when someone does get to me, I love cranking up music and singing along. It’s one of the best stress busters there is!

  16. @ Amy: If celebrating someone else’s success makes you a dork, then I’m one too. I sit at my screen and do “whoo hoo” and “woot” when someone from here posts that they got a gig. I’m sure your four-legged babies love their mom, no matter what she does at the computer. :)

    @ Tammy: Thank you!

    @ Mary: On a particularly bad day, I also picture the person I sent my stuff to calling other people over to their computer screen and all of them pointing and laughing. You just keep on plugging. It’s a numbers game and if you keep at it, you will get hired.

    @ Karen, Kathryn, & Kathleen: Glad you liked the post. You just have to press “send” and let it go. Then get on with your day.

    @ Ann G: Someone who would take the time to e-mail you about wasting their time isn’t busy enough. You deserve to work with people who will treat you with respect. Same goes for you, Leigh.

    @ Dani: I prefer not to think in terms of failures, more in terms of lessons learned. If you get in that mindset, then you can focus on making adjustments along the way instead of giving up. That doesn’t mean that being rejected doesn’t sting and that we don’t need to retreat sometimes to regroup before trying again. Kudos to you for reapplying for something you really wanted to get…and getting the gig! :D

  17. @ Ann G: Congrats on that success at 12! Wow! That is pretty cool. :-)
    I love to ‘rock out’, too.

    @ Jodee: Thank you. So far of the three I didn’t get the first time but really wanted and reapplied for later, I have gotten two. :-)

    I got rejected a second time for number three. But, HA! They have not heard the last of me! (Well, ok, if I get ‘dream gig’ they have) ;-)

  18. Leigh — I got told that a lot at my paralegal job. I used to have to do summary reports on conference calls where there would be maybe two out of five people whose voices I could hear. Of course, folks would also eat on the phone, mumble etc. I would have to record the calls, then have the calls transcribed by the overflow desk. I was tested in high school and learned I have a 50 percent loss in both ears. I got hearing aids, but they only amplified background noise. I haven’t used the hearing aids in years. I do ok in person, but I hate the phone and always fear not being able to hear those potential clients who want a phone call.

    Tammy — I think a lot of us are self-taught, and we do fine. Like Ann, I don’t apply if someone asks for a journalism degree, or some sort of experience I don’t have, but I have had some really great freelance jobs. I think you’re right — just go for it.

  19. Good morning to all!
    I woke up this morning anxious to read all of your posts. I can hear the passion in all of you. You all have given me a great sense of encouragment with your comments, Writing is a very personal thing and I have never been one to have that tough skin. So rejection is like a knife to me. But with all of you, I feel like I’m made of steel. I wish all of you the very best in “our scouting for gigs”. It’s important for us to hold eachother up and nourish that passion in all of us. No one else understands the way a writer thinks and feels (except another writer). Have a great day everyone!

    Tammy

    Dani: I have no doubt you WILL get that dream gig!

  20. I just wanted to mention that I totally feel the same way. I just applied to be an About.com guide, and I’m not sure whether I’m more scared that I will get into prep, or I won’t… it’s SO intimidating, but I REALLY want this one. Wish me luck!

  21. @Tammy: Why, thank you very much. :-)

    @Dionne: Good Luck! I am sure you will do fabulously. :-)

  22. @ Tammy: I don’t have a thick skin, not by a long shot. Just never developed it. The bottom line is that being rejected is never pleasant, but if we want to work our craft, we need to learn to deal with it.

    @ Dani: You will let us know when (not if) you get the offer for the dream gig, right?

    @ Dionne: You are going to do great….Just take it one step at a time. If you don’t get into prep this time, then rework your application and try again. You can do this!

    Anyone else feel like a virtual group hug is in order?

  23. @Jodee:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! I won’t even have to post it here. The gleeful shout heard round the world will be me celebrating. ;-)

    I will also will be dancing around (probably in my pjs) doing a wild assortment of moves from the 50′s through now (I learned through dance classes). As long as my son doesn’t get a video camera between now and then I think that event will be private (rather than a viral laugh fest via YouTube). ;-)

  24. @ Dani: Do me a favor? Do the “worm” when you do your victory dance! No pix necessary…

  25. @Jodee:

    LOL!

    Then the shout heard round the world will be, “Help! I’ve done the worm and I can’t get up!” ;-)

  26. Dionne — Good luck!! :-)

    Dani and Jodee — What is the worm? I’m scared. LOL Dani, don’t injury yourself. ;-)

  27. @ Amy: Here’s how you do the worm. Lie down on your back on the floor. Wiggle around like a worm on a hot rock.

    You get extra points if you perform this dance at a wedding or other dress-up occasion. ;)

  28. Err… Herein lies the problem. There is not that much room on my floor. Can it be done on a pile of laundry? :-|

  29. @ Amy: Feel free to be creative….worm on, girl! :)

  30. Leigh and Amy,

    I can sympathize with the hearing loss. I have 30% loss in each ear. I would rather communicate via email than telephone. On the bright side, I did have to do a telephone interview for a writing job last year. I was terrified and after the call was sure I had messed up. Besides the hearing loss, I’m shy and can’t pour on the charm. But I got the job which lasted over six months. We must remember our successes, not the rejections, and I’ve had those too.

  31. Niki — Seems like we need to start a hearing impaired writer group. ;-) That’s so great that you got the job! A six month gig is great, and I think you are so right that we must remember our successes. Every time I start thinking people are going to point and laugh, I remind myself that I got through this or that, or accomplished whatever whenever time, and that seems to help a little.

  32. Before I moved, I had a list on my desk hutch of famous writers who received multiple rejections before finally getting published. The names and amount of times they were rejected before finally getting published astonished me.

    I may have lost the list in the move, but one that really sticks out in my mind is Tom Clancy’s Hunt for the Red October. I have heard various rejection numbers from 4 through 33, but in the end, the US Naval Institute (Press), of all places, published it. :-0

    If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
    And, every time one door closes another door opens.
    ;-)

  33. @ Jodee:
    Your absolutely right about learning to deal with the disappointment. It’s part of the job and your never too old to learn something you didn’t know before.

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