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How to Face Fear of Failure and Go After Your Dream Anyway

Today’s post was inspired by a member of our mailing list. She is taking our free e-course, 21 Days to Making More From Your Writing, and said fear was one of the things keeping her from taking her writing career to the next level. I’m really honored she shared such an honest response with us. And I know she is not alone. Hence yesterday and today’s blog posts.

Fear steals ambition and potential from a lot of us. As writers, it can feel like we see a whole lot more failure than success at times. Every time we put something out for public consumption that we’ve written, we risk readers tearing it apart, ridiculing us, and even laughing at us. And if we submit anything to an agent or publisher, there is a good chance we’ll get some rejection — that is, if the agent or publisher even bothers to respond at all.

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Five Ways to Beat Down Fear and Pursue Your Writing Dream or Other Passion

Fear keeps us from doing a lot of things we might actually be really good at doing. That happens to writers a lot, but it also happens to people who dream of pursuing other paths.

Sometimes facing emotions such as fear is just as important as learning the technical details of a profession or field. After all, you need a strong mind and spirit to truly excel.

We all think it’s the fear of failure that stops us cold. But sometimes it’s actually the fear of success.

How so?

Well, sometimes we’re comfortable performing at a certain level. When we  have the chance to go beyond that, we get nervous, scared, or a bit sweaty. You see, we’re afraid to stand out. Sure, it sounds weird in this age of shock talk, posting everything on Facebook, and Tweeting about the mundane in our lives. But yeah, sometimes we really don’t want to shine.

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3 Money Lessons Your Writing Business Needs to Learn

When I started my writing business, I wasn’t sure what to do first. I knew I could write — after all, I had a degree in journalism and was working at a newspaper — but I knew it would take a lot more than writing ability to be successful.

I figured a lot of it out as I went, based on what worked and what did not. Figuring out money lessons early on helped me decide which projects to take and how to structure them.


Three money lessons that may help you:

1. Never write for free. Never write for free, unless there is a specific benefit you can see coming from the exercise. Many people will ask you to write something for free on the “promise” they will send paying business your way next time. In most instances, this never works out that way. So politely tell them no. Tell them you’ll be happy to quote them at a very reasonable and fair rate for their project, but you can’t work for free. After all, you are running a business, not a charity. (Um, you don’t have to tell them that last part; that’s just a reminder to you!)

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3 Smart Ways to Manage Client Feedback and Complete Writing Projects on Schedule

If you’re going to make a living writing, then there is one thing you must know how to manage effectively: client feedback.

When someone hires you to do a freelance writing project, you’ll provide time for feedback in your work process. You might do a part of the work and then send it for review and then another part and send that for review, if the project calls for work to be done in stages. What I lean toward, and find to be effective, though, is to complete the project as quoted and then send the entire thing to the client for review and feedback. That cuts down on the back-and-forth and allows the client to see the entire project before making judgments. So try to create a workflow that lets you complete the work, then send it for review, then make changes based on the feedback.

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Top 5 Reasons to Use Speaking to Grow Your Writing Business

Speaking is a major fear that lots of people have.

But if you can manage that fear and get in front of that crowd anyway, you can find a truly gratifying way to build your writing business.

If you are looking for an effective tool to add to your marketing mix, then speaking might be just the thing.

Here’s why:

1. You have a captive audience. Whether you’re speaking to a group of 25 or a crowd of 2,500, speaking lets you maximize your time by getting in front of multiple people at once. Even if you’re speaking to a small group of say, 25, that means 25 people get to hear your message (well, 25 minus the couple who are playing on their phones or thinking about dinner). Ordinarily, you might have to send out 25 different queries to get 25 people to hear your message. Here, you get to deliver one presentation.

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Why You Don’t Have to Be a Great Writer to Have a Great Writing Career

I once told a writers group that writing ability was something you had to be born with. That you either had it or you didn’t. That if you weren’t among the lucky few born with it, you might as well figure out something else to spend your time doing.

I was dead wrong.

That was a speaking engagement I was invited to nearly 10 years ago, and the sentiment I expressed there is one that I absolutely disagree with now. You see, I used to believe you had to have been born with writing talent to have a shot at having a worthwhile writing career. Now, I could care less about born-with talent.

You see, as a more mature writer and the owner of a writing business, I believe hard work and smarts far outweigh whatever small amount of talent a person may have been born with. That’s because talent is great if you have it and use it, but hard work, commitment to learning, and persistence can help a writer with lesser talent shine. I’d much rather hire a writer who has decent ability, is open to feedback, works hard, and listens over one who has a bit of talent but doesn’t work or listen.

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You Can Make Money Writing Books — If You Explore All the Options

When they think of writers, many people think of book authors. But writing books as a way to make a living is a lousy proposition for most people. It simply doesn’t happen. In fact, most traditionally published authors — those who land a book deal — don’t earn back their advances. Specifically, about seven out of ten books don’t earn back their advances. That means the authors never sell enough to make more money other than what the publisher initially paid them for the rights to publish their books.

And self-published authors don’t do any better. Most self-published authors sell fewer than 100 copies of their books.

That’s nowhere near what it takes to make a living writing books.

Yet, you can make a very good living writing books. You’ve just got to be smart about it.

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How to Find the Good Writing Gigs and Clients

Let’s face it, there is a lot of junk out there when it comes to writing assignments. You can troll Craigslist and online writing boards and get disgusted, discouraged, and dismayed (or all three) at the number of writing projects people want done, but don’t want to pay much for. It’s not uncommon to see people advertising $5 writing assignments.

Five dollars won’t even get you a burger meal, baby.

And you certainly can’t make a living writing, not at $5 an assignment.

So how do you get good writing assignments? Well, you’ve got to go looking for them. Forget the online job boards that match people who don’t want to pay anything with writers who will accept anything. As with ‘most anything else, you’ve got to part ways with the crowd. While it’s possible to find good projects on these boards if you look long and hard enough, people in many instances can pay low rates on those job boards because they are crowded with writers who don’t know there is a better way or who don’t really know how to get their own clients. But when you step away from the masses and go prospecting for your own clients, you’ll find the rates are much more appealing. Mainly, because you are setting the rates yourself.

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How to Structure a Quote or Proposal for Services

The way you present your business to others will determine whether they hire you. Do a sloppy job and they’ll certainly not trust that you can deliver. Make the proposal too complicated and your prospect’s brain will freeze and he’ll opt to move on to the next service provider.

A properly structured quote or proposal for services can help you land the deal and help you make money writing. As a freelance writer, a good quote is an essential part of your arsenal.

So how do you structure a quote or proposal when you want to offer your services?

The first thing you want to do is make sure you let the prospect know you can help address whatever problem she has come to you for. Then give a brief overview of how you’ve helped others or how your company provides this service to a range of clients. Provide a link to a portfolio page, if you have one, or simply list three or four relevant client types or projects you’ve worked on. The purpose here is to validate the fact that you have experience and know what you are doing. If you do not have experience with the exact project type the person has come to you for, but you know you can deliver, then draw on relevant experience you gained on similar projects.

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What You Need to Succeed as a Writer

You can succeed as a writer.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it won’t be easy.

Now that we’ve got that out the way, here is the really good news: You can have an amazing writing career.

I’ve been a writer all of my adult career. I worked in newspapers for seven years before leaving to run my own writing business full-time. I formed my writing business in 2002 to self-publish my own books. I worked both for two years before ditching the newspaper job to take on my writing business full-time in 2004.


Lots of ways to make money writing

I’ve written every type of project imaginable. I’ve done newspaper stories, of course. I also wrote an award-winning column. I’ve written books, and have self-published as well as landed a traditional book deal with an advance. I’ve written freelance magazine stories, and I’ve written website, brochure, advertising, sales, and promotional copy for small businesses, individuals, governmental entities, and other clients. I’ve ghostwritten books for politicians, educators, business owners, and others.

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