4 (New) Myths That Kill Your Freelance Mojo

What I’m listening to: Dani California by Red Hot Chili Peppers (what a fun video!)

For July, this is one busy month. I’m working with six clients. That’s usually manageable, but I did have a week off in the middle of it. Fortunately, I was organized and I’ve been able to keep up.

I’ve even had time to do my usual forum surfing. I was in some LinkedIn forums the other day when it happened (it always happens, actually) — misinformation was being shared as fact. Beyond the usual whine-fest (i.e. “There just isn’t any good-paying work out there!”), I was seeing a new crop of mythical info that is being presented as The Way Things Are.

Maybe it’s my contradictory nature, but anytime I see an absolute statement, I call bullshit.

When you hear what I’ve read lately, I bet you will, too. Here’s the short list of myths that take the air out of new freelancers:

Ask for work from other freelancers and you will receive. This trend is growing in frequency, and it pisses me off. Why? Because it’s lazy. One person on a forum actually asked someone to locate a high-paying gig for him, complete with his story of how he and his family are struggling. I sympathize because I’ve been there — the work isn’t finding its way to you and you panic. However, I’m not busting my ass for you, for the only writing you seem to want to do is to cajole others into doing the work for you. You haven’t worked in five months? In five months, you couldn’t find one job? The problem isn’t the market. It’s your lack of drive. BS Meter Level: Orange Alert.

Freelance writing is a saturated market, so don’t expect much. I call serious bullshit on this one. There is no such thing as a “saturated” freelance market. Correction: there’s no such thing as a saturated market if you’re actively marketing to quality clients. If you’re calling the content mills saturated, you’re right. And you’re fishing in the wrong pond. BS Meter Level: Yellow heading into Orange.

You’ll never earn a living with your fiction. I saw this stated in not one, but two different places. If you write plays, books, essays, or poetry, you’re screwed. No way you’ll ever make a living freelance writing that way. Yes, you can make money with fiction. Ask Devon Ellington. Ask Princess Jones. Ask any writer who’s doing it right now if they think it’s impossible. Anyone who tells you you can’t hasn’t tried or isn’t good enough to do so. It takes the same level of commitment to finding clients and markets as it does any other area of freelance writing. BS Meter Level: Pegged in the Red Zone.

Longer articles are better. Here we go again. The pronouncement that a particular post length is The Way Things Must Be. Because we all know that everyone enjoys reading a 2,000-word post when they have exactly three minutes to scan the internet before getting back to work. Please. The length is as long or as short as it needs to be for you to make your point without boring the hell out of your audience. BS Meter Level: Solid Yellow.

Writers, what myths are you seeing circulating lately?
Which ones can you prove wrong?

About the author




  • Paula Hendrickson July 20, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Suddenly I’m not disappointed that I haven’t made time to check out any LinkedIn forums.

    • lwidmer July 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      I’m beginning to question why I bother.

  • Cathy Miller July 20, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Funny you bring this up, Lori. I don’t go to writers’ groups on LinkedIn very much. LinkedIn is one of my main vehicles for networking in my niche. Other freelance writers aren’t my market. But, I just received an invitation to connect with a newbie freelancer. When I looked at the writer’s profile, I noticed several Pulse articles that were more like open letters asking for ideas on getting work. Of course, I also receive emails asking the same.

    I don’t mind helping out newbies. I’m not so far removed myself. If I know the writer has been putting forth the effort , I’m glad to offer ideas. But, open-ended questions like where can I find good-paying clients smacks of sheer laziness to me.

    • lwidmer July 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      I get the requests from writers too, Cathy. I tend not to link to other writers unless I know them — as you say, that’s not my market, either. In a few cases when I did link to them, I was rewarded with notes asking me to help them find work. On first contact. Really?

      I have to resist the urge to write back and tell them that their approach is probably the very reason they’re not getting work. It’s not up to me to critique them or open that door to a lengthy conversation or debate. I just don’t have the energy some days.

      • Damaria Senne October 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

        I send newbie writers who ask me how to start and manage a freelance writing business to this blog Lori, because you speak so much about proactively looking for clients. I figure if they can learn from you and other experienced writers who comment here, they have a good starting point.

        • lwidmer October 17, 2017 at 2:21 pm

          Damaria, I appreciate that! We’re all here to help each other. I’m happy to help where and when I can.

  • Devon Ellington July 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I’m honored to be an example ! 😉

    • lwidmer July 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      You are the BEST example, hon. 🙂