10 Lame Excuses That Keep Freelance Writers Poor

Carol Tice

Lame freelance writer excuses that keep you poor. Makealivingwriting.comWhat’s holding you back from achieving your freelance writing goals?

I’ve heard from a lot of writers lately about why they’re stuck. Why they can’t get out there and find some gigs.

I call them reasons, but really, they’re excuses — barriers writers throw up in front of themselves to have an excuse for not moving forward.

Often, it’s not the economy, or your lack of clips. The real problem is inside your head.

I finally started a collection of the excuses I hear most. Here are the top ten, along with my excuse-busting replies:

  1. I don’t have any clips. Every single successful writer working today once had no clips or experience whatsoever. Hit the Internet and find a website that will print something of yours. Presto! A clip. Build from there.
  2. My clips are too old. I routinely send out 10-year-old clips, if they show an expertise I need to demonstrate. Nobody cares — if you wrote it then, you can write it now. So show ’em what you got.
  3. My website isn’t ready. Mine went up in 2008 and it’s still not ‘ready,’ either. I just redid it, but there’s plenty I’d still like to change. Our sites are never ‘done.’ But you pitch with what you have now, and keep improving it.
  4. I don’t have enough experience. So get some — volunteer to write for a local business. Intern at an alternative paper. There is no ‘enough,’ anyway. We all just keep learning as we go. 
  5. I don’t have a degree. Me neither. I’ve edited the work of people who have master’s degrees though, and I can tell you it’s no guarantee of writing success. Unless you’re trying to be the editor of the New York Times, you’re good. If you really have a complex about this, take a community college course in magazine writing or copywriting.
  6. It’s too late to get started in social media. I recently read that to this point, only 9 percent of America is on Twitter. It’s still early days. Jump in and start learning. And of course, Google+ just started about yesterday, so we’re all newbies there.
  7. I don’t know where to start. Here is the answer: Somewhere. Start somewhere. Try some type of writing that interests you. Promote yourself with some form of marketing you’re willing to try. If it doesn’t work, try another way. Keep trying to get published, somewhere, anywhere, until you do.
  8. I don’t have any connections. Completely unnecessary. Concentrate on your writing. One good query letter can open the door to a lucrative, ongoing editor relationship. Wherever you’re trying to get, you can just write your way there.
  9. You can’t find good pay in this economy, so why try. Good thing I didn’t buy into this fable, or I wouldn’t have grown my writing income every year since 2006.
  10. I hate marketing. More than you hate starving? It’s not my favorite thing, but it’s sort of like going to the bathroom — probably not your favorite thing either, and yet you do it each day. Marketing should be like that. Just suck it up and do it.

What lame excuses have you heard lately? Feel free to add to my list in the comments.

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  1. Jason

    Carole, I had a question after reading this post…

    You have mentioned “clips” a few times, and I’m wondering what that is. Judging by context, it seems like they’re writing samples. Am I right? Do guest posts on other blogs count? I’ve gotten a couple guests posts published (including one on Problogger which I was pretty proud of), and those would be all I have at the moment to send to a prospective client.

    Thanks for all of your writing tips!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Jason —

      That’s right, clips mean your previously published articles or in your case, blog posts.

      Congrats on the Problogger guester!

      My philosophy is whatever clips you have, you send. If they’re all blog posts right now, that’s what you’ve got. Some companies and publications pay pretty well for blogging, so you might go after those kind of gigs first. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much mileage you can get out of appearing on a well-known site like Problogger. Give it a try and report back to us on how it goes!

      Best of luck with it —

  2. Ayo Oyedotun

    Hi Carol.

    This is really challenging. I guess we should learn to be more determined, decisive and disciplined; and avoid flimsy excuses.

    Thank you Carol for the post.

  3. Jodi Hughey

    Great article Carol! Fantastic! Really got me thinking. So much so that I had to write a blog post about it with a focus on an audience of one . . . and that ‘one’ was ME.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom! 🙂


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