It’s the biggest question I struggled with as an aspiring freelance writer …
“How do I know when my skills are good enough to go after my first client?”
After all, I didn’t want to land a client and not deliver. The embarrassment would be too much for me to handle.
It wasn’t until I came up with an answer that I was able to move forward in my career.
If you’ve ever had (or still have!) this same dilemma, don’t fret. Today I’ll tell you exactly how you can get past this concern, and move toward landing your first paying client.
So how do you know when you’re ready?
Well, the truth is that …
You’re ready now!
I didn’t like this answer at first. But as soon as I came to terms with it, I was able to launch my writing career.
See, the truth is that you’ll never truly feel 100% ready.
Case in point: I’ve been at this copywriting thing full-time for several years now. I still feel jitters in my stomach every time a client gives me an assignment. I wonder if my skills are up to par. And, I wonder if I’ll be able to do a good job.
Granted, I don’t feel these feelings as strongly as when I first started. But they’re still there.
Many working copywriters I’ve spoken to also feel this way. Even million-dollar copywriting superstar Carline Anglade-Cole has admitted to getting a small case of the jitters when she lands a big project.
There’s still that little voice that says, “Will I really be able to do a great job on this? Am I just a big fraud?”
The only difference for those already living the writer’s life is that they take action in spite of that fear.
That said, I don’t want to just leave you with “You’re ready now, so just do it.”
There ARE things you can do to build your confidence and your skills.
And while you still won’t feel “100% ready,” you’ll at least feel confident you’ve done everything you can to deliver on your promises to your clients.
Here are three things you can start doing today:
1) Learn every opportunity you get.
When I worked full-time at a ballroom dance studio, my boss would always tell me, “If you’re green, you grow. If you’re ripe, you rot.”
In the field of freelance writing, truer words could never be spoken.
Writing copy is a fluid skill. It’s forever changing and improving.
You’ll never reach a point where you can say, “Alas, I’ve mastered EVERYTHING there is to know about writing. Now I am ready.”
It simply doesn’t work that way. In fact, the sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be. And, the sooner you’ll be able to land that first client.
So the good news is, you’ll always be learning.
And the reality is — you learn as you go. (And your clients pay you for it!)
Once you’ve got a gist of the fundamentals of good copy, it’s a matter of learning “on the job.”
You’ll see … with each project you take on, you’ll learn something, improve, and take that knowledge with you and apply it to your next assignment.
2) Write … A LOT.
Brian Clark (of Copyblogger.com fame) sums it up best in his post titled, “10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer” …
- Write more.
- Write even more.
- Write even more than that.
- Write when you don’t want to.
- Write when you do.
- Write when you have something to say.
- Write when you don’t.
- Write every day.
- Keep writing.
There’s no way around it. The more you write, the better you get.
Also, the more you write, the more confidence you’ll have in your abilities, and the easier it will be to push past the fear of “Am I ready?”
3) Start Small.
The idea here is baby steps.
I know that being unsure of your abilities can be nerve-wracking.
If landing your first client terrifies you, start by writing a few samples.
Then have your peers review it. They’ll give you an honest assessment of what you’ve done well and what could use more work.
Once you’re comfortable with that, write on spec. This is when you do the writing before the client has hired or offered to pay you. It’s a way of showing them what you’re capable of, and there’s no risk on your end or the client’s. If they don’t like your work, no biggie. Either way, you win because you’ll have gained valuable experience and a new sample for your portfolio.
From there, you could approach a client and offer to write on spec for them.
The point is this. Start from wherever you’re comfortable. Then take progressive baby steps to get where you want to go.
Doing this will gradually build your confidence, much in the same way you work a muscle out with gradually heavier weights to make it stronger.
Bottom line: You don’t have to wait ‘til you feel 100% ready in your skills.
Because chances are, you’ll never feel 100% ready (I know I don’t).
Accept that you’re ready now.
If the thought of going for it scares you too much, follow the three tips I’ve outlined.
This will not only continue to build your skills, but your confidence as well.