When you work for yourself as an independent professional content writer, you are the only one limiting your personal and professional growth. This means you can be your best advocate and worst enemy. Imposter syndrome is that pesky little voice in the back of your head that’s working against you. Don’t let that voice stop you from reaching your goals! As someone who has dealt with imposter syndrome, I see it in other writers and how it hinders them from going after the writing jobs that they deserve.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
When you suffer from imposter syndrome, you doubt your skills and abilities when you are among peers. You hesitate to speak up or participate because you assume that everyone else present is more intelligent and accomplished than you. What could you possibly contribute when everyone else is so advanced? This can make you feel like a fraud despite having all the necessary qualifications.
What Are the Signs of Imposter Syndrome?
Knowing what to look out for can help you conquer imposter syndrome. The sooner you face it, the easier it is to overcome. Identifying the signs also prevents a mental spiral that sends you deeper into a pit of self-doubt. So, do you do any of these things?
I’m a Perfectionist
The way I experience imposter syndrome, I want everything to be perfect. I tend to be a perfectionist in almost every area of my life. When it comes to my professional career, perfectionism can be debilitating. You can only review a writing piece so many times before accepting that it’s great content and move on. Additionally, I get paid per piece; spending endless hours reviewing a piece of work means I make less money per hour. This isn’t conducive when I have bills to pay.
It was hard learning how to accept that I’m not perfect. There will be mistakes, and I can’t appease all clients. It sounds strange, but writing for a blog mill was the best thing I could have done. I was exposed to hundreds of different clients who didn’t hesitate to give their brutal opinion during the content creation process. Those opinions stung at first.
But over time, the feedback became easier to tolerate. Soon, I began to see that not all feedback was because I wasn’t a good content writer. Sometimes, my article was perfect, but the client had unrealistic expectations, didn’t know what they wanted, or were outright wrong. One day it just clicked for me, and I realized that I don’t have to be perfect as long as I try my best.
Now, this doesn’t mean I no longer try to be perfect in my content writer job. I still strive for perfection. I want to meet every deadline, catch every spelling error, and craft engaging content that clients love. However, I no longer beat myself up if I’m not perfect. Additionally, my years of experience has helped me create systems to help me perform my best. This takes the stress and pressures out of creating successful content. It also streamlines the creation process for me. My content writing process includes several steps. I keep the steps generic, so that I can follow the same process for all types of content. This includes writing social media posts, white papers, product descriptions, web content, landing pages, press releases, and long-form content.
- Review the client’s requirements for target audience, style guide, and content strategy.
- Establish a title, topic, and target keyword
- Research the subject matter and perform keyword research.
- Create a rough outline template with H2 headers
- Write the article
- Review the article with Grammarly
- Review the article in Google Docs
- Review the article in Word
- Have Word read the article out loud to me
- Check the article in Hemmingway App
As you can see, there are many steps to the writing process for me. However, I find that this ensures I produce the best quality content with as few errors as possible. Having a process in place also keeps me consistent, so I never have to worry about my work product quality slacking.
Do all content creators follow this type of system? No. Freelance writers tend to develop a system that works for them. Because the job description is so broad, you’ll find that content writers typically write specific types of content. For example, someone could be a copywriter. Their writing skills are geared toward marketing campaigns and sales copy. They could work as part of a marketing team to write a variety of test formats from email marketing to print media. Other freelance writers focus on search engine optimization. They write SEO content for web pages, articles for bloggers, or any other website content that will help with digital marketing efforts.
I Love Myself
As an independent contractor, I don’t have yearly performance reviews like you would as an employee. No manager sits you down at the end of the year and evaluates your performance. This means that you have to step into this role and evaluate yourself. I have learned that I have no problem evaluating myself and being critical of my own performance. While this is valuable for identifying room for improvement, it also means I’m incredibly tough on myself. For example, I’ve been successful at working full-time as a writer. However, I’ve failed myself when it comes to content management for my own WordPress website.
Being honest about areas for improvement is good, but you can’t forget about recognizing your accomplishments. To prevent myself from being too negative or critical, I come up with a positive for every criticism. This has changed my perspective and way of thinking. It stops me from being too hard on myself. I have become my own best cheerleader, reminding myself of the positive things I have accomplished.
I Track My Performance
The human brain is terrible at remembering details and accurately identifying trends. As a result, we remember some things and forget others. This gives you a warped view of your performance track record. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, your recollection will be skewed more negatively than positively. That’s not being fair to yourself.
Accurately tracking your work gives you a better view of your performance. I track everything I do. This is required for accurate project and payment tracking and allows me to track my growth yearly. I can look at my performance over the last five years and see how far I’ve come. If I start to feel like I’m slacking or not doing enough, I can easily look at the data and see that this isn’t the case.
Decide to Be Successful
I hated working in an office in a corporate environment. I found office politics tedious and the micromanagement to be suffocating. I knew that I wanted to work for myself and have the freedom to make my own choices without having to justify them to anyone. So if I want to keep working for myself and have the freedom I want, I have to be successful. So I made the choice that I was going to be successful. I made up my mind and decided there was no other option. Doing this gave me a positive goal to focus on.