Impostor Syndrome: Why Beginner Freelancers Are Afraid to Write on Professional Topics


As a freelancer, you have to fight for your position in the industry. Besides a little luck, persistence is one of the key traits you need to succeed. However, most freelancers can feel out of place when they decide to take a venture in the freelance world.

You’ve probably had a thought cross your mind that you aren’t good enough. That fear is commonly called impostor syndrome. Once you understand why this happens to you and that you are not alone in this, you will be able to conquer your fears.


What is imposter syndrome?

In simple words, imposter syndrome is when an individual feels like he is a fraud and that he is only pretending to be an expert. This also awakens the feeling that everyone around him (colleagues, employers) are aware that he is not good enough.

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry. Many people feel the same way.

Even a former staff engineer at Google, John L. Miller admitted that this syndrome is quite common. John shares:

“At Google, it’s so common there is an internal distribution list dedicated to it, and I believe it’s something the management watches for. It’s a natural side-effect of being surrounded by brilliant people."

It is quite shocking that 7 in 10 people are affected by the imposter syndrome phenomena at some point in their lives.


Why does it affect freelance writers?

The creatives are more likely to be affected by this syndrome. Considering that writing is a creative job, you can easily fall under the influence of this phenomena.

The reason why this happens is that there is no certain way to access your work. Writing is not math. If you count 2+2 and your total is 4 you know you’ve done it right. With creative jobs such as writing, you can never know if your work is excellent or bad.

Freelance writers are in an especially difficult position because they don’t have a team behind them that will give them support.

A licensed mental health counselor Sarah Larkin Birdsong has worked with many freelancers who had this problem. She explains how self-dependence can increase fear:

"As a society, we’re primed to work in group environments in which we receive positive feedback while pursuing a relatively linear path of success. Freelancers don’t necessarily work in groups nor have a linear path."

In any of your freelance writing projects, you won’t know until the very end if you are doing a good job. This unpredictable future and self-doubt hold back many beginners.

When you come across a professional topic this fear can rise because you are facing a real challenge. Carol Thierry, a writer and editor at shared her experience from the beginning of her career:

“Whenever I had come across a more demanding topic, I would instantly back down. I would always feel that I won’t be able to rise to the occasion. Until one day, when I said enough is enough. I took the risk and it was worth it."


How to overcome imposter syndrome?

What is most important is that you have already taken the first step – recognizing that you have a problem. Now that you know that you fear isn’t the result of you not being good enough, it is time to take the bull by its horns.

The following five tips can help you deal with this syndrome until your self-doubt disappears.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others

One of the worst things you can do to yourself is to compare your writing to someone else’s. It is so easy to find flaws in your work when you compare it to the work of other professional writers.

Remember that each and every one of you has its own style and your writing is incomparable.

If you want to get inspired by other writers, go ahead. But as soon as you start feeling like your writing is poor compared to theirs, just stop. Stop focusing on how others write and just do your thing.

2. Work on your craft

Those who constantly practice their writing have more confidence. When you know that you have done your best, there will be no reason to feel self-doubt.

Start by using the following tools and services:

  • Trust My Paper – Employ this writing service to connect you with professional and experienced writers. Ask them to write a post on a topic in your niche and learn from their writing style.
  • Grab My Essay – In case you get stuck, do not despair. Hire a talented professional to finish and edit your work. It’s much easier to deal with your fears when someone has your back.
  • Hemingway Editor – Before you submit your work always run it through this editor app. You’ll feel more confident if you know that your writing is proofread and edited.
  • Readable – Check your readability score with Readable. Edit your writing until you’re satisfied with the result. You’ll also be able to learn from these pointers.

3. Think rationally

Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Even if you have had a few rejections or you still haven’t landed your first job keep in mind that that is normal. Just consider how many people applied for the same position.

Also, if your employer points out some mistakes you’ve made or edits you have to make, don’t take it personally. Those who work make mistakes. It is all a part of the business.

Always rationalize such situations if you don’t want your fear to get the best of you.

4. Fake it till you make it

You don’t feel good enough? Well, don’t say it out loud. If someone asks, you are a professional who is an expert in your field.

It can be really hard to fight your fears but faking it can be your way out.

Apply to any job that you want. Write passionate cover letters that represent you as the best choice for the job.

When the self-doubt starts rising, just push it down and fearlessly continue with the pursuit.

5. You are not alone

Lastly, remember that many freelance writers struggle with the same thing. If you think that you are an imposter, does that mean that everyone who feels the same way is also an imposter?

Try to reach out to fellow writers and talk about their experiences. It can help when you hear from others who have gone through the same thing.


Closing thoughts

Unfortunately, imposter syndrome is a common thing among freelance writers. It certainly won’t disappear so it is important to raise awareness about it.

Once you know what you are fighting against it will be easier to defeat it. Remember that no matter what that inner voice says, you are good enough. Just be courageous and never back down until you fulfill your dreams.


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