The Essential Mindset Every Freelance Writer Should Develop to Ensure Success

Advice for Aspiring Freelance Writers on Entrepreneurship

Written by Francesca Nicasio

What are the ingredients to becoming a successful freelance writer?

Writing talent? Of course. Creativity? Absolutely. Passion for writing and a strong grasp of language? You bet. Ask any freelancer about the traits that you ought to have in your freelance writing journey, and I’m sure that they would be able to name quite a few more.

But there’s one quality in particular that I feel isn’t mentioned quite as often as it should. I think that when freelance writers are discussing their paths to success, they don’t give enough credit to the trait of being entrepreneurial. Which is a shame, because I believe developing a business mindset is critical to becoming a great freelance writer.

Let me give you a few examples.

#1 Replacing the “consumer mindset” with a business-oriented one

One of the things that I struggled with when I was starting out was approaching prospective clients. I was scared to reach out to other businesses and offer my writing services because I felt that I would be like some sleazy telemarketer and get hung up on.

Advice for Aspiring Freelance Writers on EntrepreneurshipBut I soon realized that my fears were completely unfounded and they were just a reflection of the consumer mindset that I had at the time. I learned that selling to businesses isn’t the same as selling to consumers, because businesses do not think or behave the same way.

When you approach an entrepreneur, they won’t see you as an obnoxious salesperson who’s trying to sell them things they don’t need. Instead, they would likely see you as a businessperson (just like them) who’s offering something of value.

That’s something that you need to remember whenever you’re having doubts or fears about knocking on businesses’ doors. You are not a door-to-door salesperson bugging a stay-at-home mom who’s just trying to relax.

What you are is a business providing a perfectly legit and in-demand service (i.e. content) to other businesses.

#2 Having a business mindset when dealing with rejection

An individual with a personal mindset takes rejection hard and feels butt-hurt or insulted. They start having self-doubts about their writing skills and personality. An entrepreneur on the other hand, understands that receiving a “no” from another business doesn’t have anything to do with them as person. It just means that their businesses aren’t the right fit for each other.

Be sure to adapt an entrepreneurial mindset whenever you encounter not-so-pleasant issues in your freelance writing career. Check your personal ego at the door and deal with setbacks with a professional and level head. Doing so will enable you to move on much quicker.

#3 Ditching your employee way of thinking and adopting a business mindset

If you’re coming from a 9 to 5 job, you have to make the major mental adjustment of going from thinking like an employee to thinking like an entrepreneur. The former waits for their boss to tell them what to do, while the latter forges their own path.

When you decide to become a freelance writer you need to wrap your head around that fact that there’s no one else in charge of stirring the ship but you and the decisions on where to take your business lies in your hands.

How to develop an entrepreneurial mindset

Surround yourself with entrepreneurs.

Do you have any friends or relatives who are starting or  running their own business? Spend the day with them or offer to buy them lunch so you can pick their brain. If you’re employed, observe your company’s founder or CEO and pick up lessons on what to do (or in some cases, what not to do.)

The web is also filled with innovative, business-minded people who are more than willing to share their wisdom. Mixergy.com for instance has more than 931 interviews and 117 courses on entrepreneurial topics, while AppSumo offers insightful blog posts and great products.

Take action

Of course, listening to interviews and hanging out with the right people can only take you so far. Do these things, but also remember that the most important step to becoming an entrepreneur is taking action.

Even if you feel like you’re not ready or that you don’t have that business mindset just yet, take some sort of action anyway. If you’re really serious about becoming a freelance writer, then stop treating your craft as hobby and take the steps to turn it into a business. Determine the types of content that you want to write about then put your marketing cap on and start calling potential clients.

Make your business official by building a website and spreading the word. Another way to really cement your business status is to get your DBA or LLC all set up and start setting money aside for taxes — it doesn’t get any more official than that.

The bottom line is, the most effective way to get that business mindset is by actually starting a business. Books can help. Changing the way you think can help. But in order to really do it, you need to go out there and actually start one.

About the Author: Francesca Nicasio teaches aspiring freelance writers how to build their portfolio and find clients at BeAFreelanceWriter.com. Download her free eBook, 25 Types of Writing Gigs that Pay Well (and How to Find Them) here.

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    1. Since I started calling clients as opposed to only emailing them, I get a lot more business — often on the spot! It’s great! I wish I had not waited so long to call people. I was way too shy. But now I understand that I have to do it in order to stay in business. As you said, this is not a hobby.

      I also had to check my spending habits. Putting aside money for taxes and other business expenses and keeping them separate from my personal finances is still a tough one to learn for me. I learned such bad financial habits over the years. But being an entrepreneur is forcing me to look those bad habits in the face and fix them.
      Halona Black recently posted…The Truth About Writing Original Blog ContentMy Profile

      • Halona:

        I think cold calling is so effective because many freelancers don’t do it, so companies are surprised to hear from one — ESPECIALLY if they need one. Also, you do act more “business like” b/c hey, you’re on the phone with them. So it forces you to be that “professional,” that “entrepreneur” if you will.

        As for spending habits, there’s nothing like owning a business to change the way you feel about – and handle — money. Here’s a post that gives some insight on some financial (and freelancing) lessons I’ve learned over the last 20 years.

      • Glad to see you here, Halona!

        I know a lot of awesome writers who have managed to reel in great clients through cold calling. Peter Bowerman, the man who got me into this business in the first place, has found a lot of success using this method.

        I’ve personally never used it. I prefer cold emails because I’m just not a phone person. But that just goes to show that there are plenty of client-hunting strategies out there and it’s about finding what works best for you and sticking to it.

        Regarding spending habits–I can relate. I didn’t set enough money aside for taxes in my first year and had to shell out some cash come tax season. Like what you and Yuwanda said, being an entrepreneur forces you to change your spending habits. I’m just glad I learned my lesson early on.

        • Francesca:

          Re finances, better late than never!

          Getting stuck with a $17,000 tax bill — as I did one year — was not fun. It took me a couple of years to pay it off. From that point on, I hired an accountant, got my finances straight and have never had to worry about tax time again.

      • Like your blog, too! I’ve run two half-martohans (I consider that my whole martohan! back in 2004 & 2005, I think. You can do it!!! I highly recommend the Galloway program with John Lineberger, but sounds like you’re already into it & have a plan. I’m the Community Relations Manager for Communities In Schools, and Safe Journey (program for teen moms to help them graduate from high school and learn good parenting skills, etc.) is one of our programs. If you want to learn more and perhaps be a mentor for a teen mom (or help in other ways), contact me at . I’ll put you in touch with Judy Sanders-Bull, the Director of Safe Journey & she can tell you more. We work with about 100 students (pregnant and/or parenting) annually. ~May Johnston