Show Clients You’re Confident (Even When You’re Doubting Yourself)
by Alicia Rades
If you’re like every other writer on the planet, you’re plagued by doubt.
Am I quoting too low, or am I scaring off clients with too-high rates?
Are my skills really worth what I’m charging?
Is my blog doing anything for my business?
Will I ever see this client again?
Is the deadline I just agreed upon realistic?
Am I doing enough to push my business forward?
Are these the types of questions that go through your head? They’re the ones that I frequently ask myself, but until now that I’m admitting it, my clients and fellow writers would never know it.
Why? Because even when I’m doubting myself, I’m letting my confidence show through.
New writers are always unsure of themselves. It’s just something we all have to face. (And let’s be honest, even some of us who have been at it for years are still unsure at times.)
While it’s true that you may doubt yourself, there’s no rule that says you have to let clients know that. Unfortunately, I’ve seen writers explicitly state on their website that they don’t know what they’re doing, that they’re total newbies, or that they’ve never had a writing client before.
Woah. Hold it right there.
How is that going to convince anyone to hire you? If you’re not confident in your own work, why would a potential client be confident hiring you?
Another area where confidence kills writers is in quoting rates. If you quote a rate of $100 per piece but mention that, “I can go lower if it doesn’t fit your budget,” then why wouldn’t a client take advantage of that? Right there you’re showing that 1) you’re willing to work for lower rates and 2) you’re not completely confident in the rate you’ve quoted.
I get it. You don’t want to lose a client by quoting too high, but how do you know if they’re willing to pay your ideal rates if you’re letting them choose lower ones?
Confidence Breeds Success
Showing your confidence, on the other hand, helps prospects put that same confidence in your service and rates.
Beth Monaghan, the co-founder of InkHouse Media and Marketing, points out in her Forbes article that confidence breeds success. And you know what? It can be taught by, as Monaghan puts it, “faking it ‘til you make it.”
This can work in a couple of different ways.
- If you show confidence, people are more likely to share that confidence.
- If you practice confidence, you’re going to start believing it.
How to Bring Your Confidence to Life
Not sure how to show your confidence when you’re starting out? Here are just a few tips:
1. Stop focusing on your weaknesses.
A new writer recently asked me to look over her pitch. While her idea was solid and she had some writing samples on her personal blog, she added the phrase, “I do not currently have anything else published, though.” That right there tells me she’s insecure about her experience.
Instead of focusing how much writing experience she doesn’t have, she could be focusing on her strengths in the topic she’s pitching about. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t have published samples because her non-writing experience makes her the perfect person to tell the story she was pitching.
2. Take a firm stance with your rates.
Admittedly, I had no idea what I was doing when I first starting quoting project rates to clients. Negotiating is a scary thing, but if you let clients know you’re unsure about your rates, why would they be confident in them?
You can spend hours contemplating over what rate to quote, but there’s no reason to tell clients you spent that long thinking about it. When you think you’ve got it, send the rate over, but avoid saying anything like, “I’m not sure this is fair…” or “If this is too much…” or “This is my first time sending a quote…” Yes, your client may come back with a different rate, but it’s less likely when you sound confident in your quote.
3. Avoid “I Think” Language
I’ll admit it: I still use the phrase “I think” from time to time, but it’s time for me to stop. It immediately shows that I’m not sure if my idea is a good one.
Instead of: I think $100 sounds fair, don’t you?
Say: This project will cost $100.
Instead of: I think topic X would work well on the blog next week.
Say: For next week’s blog post, I’d like to write about topic X.
Any “I’m unsure of myself” language should be avoided. The cool thing about writing—especially if you communicate with clients via email—is that you have time to refine your message. So don’t just look at the words you’re writing; really consider what type of message you’re sending about your confidence.
The One Problem With Your Confidence
Before you leave here thinking you have to portray yourself as confident in every situation that comes your way, let me leave you with a word of warning.
Don’t let your confidence keep you from asking questions.
You might feel like asking questions is a sign of weakness. It shows you don’t know what you’re doing. But the reality is that if you don’t ask questions, you’ll never get the answers. Questions are valuable tools that can push your business forward. Whether it’s asking a fellow writer how to make a tweak on your website or it’s asking a client for clarification on an assignment, you’re likely to come out ahead by posing the question.
Remember: Even when you’re doubting yourself, there’s still a glimmer of confidence there. After all, you wouldn’t be doing this if you didn’t think you could. Use that confidence to your advantage. Do you ever doubt yourself as a writer? How will you make your confidence show through the next time?
Alicia Rades is a freelance writer, blogger, editor, and author. When she isn’t writing for clients, you can find her helping new writers at the Be a Freelance Blogger forums. Learn more about Alicia at aliciaradeswriter.com.