This post was written by TCCS member, Shari Whittick
Mindset reset to kick imposter syndrome to the curb
You know the butterflies you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re making a big life decision? Say, for example, giving up your day job to start a freelance career?
On the one hand, you’re sliding across the floor in your socks and undies like Tom Cruise. On the other, stupid imposter syndrome is holding your mind hostage.
To transition from a day job to freelance, I knew I’d have to kick imposter syndrome to the curb. I discovered the need to ‘ground myself in the familiar’. What do I mean by that? I worked in a hospital pathology lab. It had very clear expectations, policies, procedures, and workflows.
As a freelancer, I didn’t have any of that, and I’ll admit I was flailing like a blow-up stickman in a car sales yard. Google was my only friend, answering my millions of ‘how to’ questions. But, surprise, surprise – Google delivered. It found The Clever Copywriting School for me. And in the TCCS membership, I found resources. I found support. I found my tribe.
For newbies out there who are thinking of transitioning, you might find this a useful read. These mindset re-alignments made it easier for me. It may help you, too.
Same, same, but different
Although our day jobs seem vastly different to our freelance business, in many ways they’re the same. Being freelance writers means that we can work from anywhere with an internet connection (or in our jim-jams, woo!). But we still have the same number of hours to do the work. We still need to prioritise workloads, doing the most valuable and productive things first. And we still need to dig deep to find the confidence to take on roles or projects that we haven’t done before.
When comparing day job processes to freelancing, there are more similarities than differences. Making this list gave me so much clarity!
- Time management/priorities
- Diary management
- Dealing with people/handling difficult customers
- Managing a process or project from beginning to end
- Dealing with feedback
- Environment of continual learning (clients and processes)
- Learning new software and integrations
- Reviewing and streamlining processes
- Managing procurement/finances
- WHS, self-care, office ergonomics
So why are we freaking out? We’ve all done at least some of these things before. And I’ll bet if your old boss asked you to do a new task you knew nothing about, you’d still likely take it on and learn it, right? Now we need to adopt that mindset for ourselves instead of for someone else.
Why not try to make your own list and see if helps to reframe your capabilities?
Think like a business
When you bring it back to basics, a business is a business. Whether you’re a sole trader or a multi-national, it’s all about offering a product or service to a client. As a new freelancer, it’s hard to know your worth. Copywriting is such a subjective field, it’s difficult to know if you’re adding value.
This is where thinking like a business helped enormously. What did my employer have that gave it an official professional air? Enter the invaluable templates and resources found in TCCS:
- A code of conduct = boundaries
- Policies = terms and conditions
- Procedure manuals = how I work
- Mission statement = USP
- Values = personal and brand values
We are businesses like any other. If your day job has rules and regulations you agree with, adopt them for yourself. This gives you a solid (proven) foundation to add value to clients. Not to mention, saving your own sanity in the process.
Simple things count too. By taking a writing project off some time-poor person or company, you add value. You’re adding value because you’ve learned the nuances of SEO copywriting for web projects. You add value by building lasting relationships. Which then lends some perspective to your worth as a copywriter. And dang it – even more than L’Oreal – we are worth it!
Using the hustle muscle
Hustle? This is something I never had to contend with in my day job. That’s what a Business Development Manager was for. The laboratory work was there, and I’d go in and do it.
Now I have to source my own work?
AND market myself? Eeeek! I’m an introvert, used to hiding behind pot plants! (No, seriously – I have photographic evidence).
You know those dreams where you’re on the loo with no walls and everyone’s looking at you? Marketing yourself is a bit like that. Except you’re not on the loo, and you have something to offer that could really help someone out. So why not promote it? Consider it a ‘calculated vulnerability’.
Plus, being a member of TCCS means you don’t have to do it alone. You have access to plenty of support and expert advice from people who’ve done the hustle. Sure, you’ll win some/lose some while finding your feet, but each failure or near miss is a valuable lesson learned. Remember to aim for improvement, not perfection.
So be brave! Use your hustle muscle and lean on the TCCS family to guide you.
Ground yourself using lived experience
Annnnd the biggie. Imposter syndrome. Always lurking, making you second-guess yourself. Don’t discount the fact you have ‘lived experience’. Even more helpful if you’ve niched into what you already know. Give yourself some credit for that. For example, I’ve spent most of my working life in the field of Medical Science. I have a broad range of knowledge across many disciplines within the Life Sciences. While I don’t know everything, I’ve absorbed a lot of science-y things for almost my entire life. That breadth of knowledge must count for something!
And the writing part? Well, I’ve written research-heavy materials in academic style. I’ve written procedure manuals and training manuals when I was a Laboratory Manager. I’ve submitted briefs to get new equipment and staff. And now as a freelance copywriter, I offer the same kind of writing. I can own that. Not so imposter-y now, is it? Can you truly say you’re not good enough in your business?
Transitioning into full-time freelance writing can be daunting. Imposter syndrome steals our ability to trust in ourselves. So- ground yourself. Find familiarity in what you do. Don’t second-guess those transferable skills. Never underestimate what you know, or for that matter, what you can do!
Remember the TCCS catch-cry:
I. Am. Copywriter!
How did you manage imposter syndrome during full-time to freelance transition?
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About Shari Whittick
Shari delivers affordable and efficient SEO content and copywriting services to your business. She writes well-researched, credible, thought-provoking material, positioning you as a thought leader in your field. Preferred industries: medical science and biotech; environmental science; energy and renewables.
You can find out more about Shari at ShariWhittick.com.au