5 ways to overcome lack of experience

September 10, 2009

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” ~ Henry David Thoreau


Welcome to my episode of Confessions of a Little Lost Girl, way less chic than the shopaholic variety. I’m not ashamed to say that despite my age, my parents still teach me valuable lessons on a regular basis or remind me of ones forgotten.

As positive as I’ve been about the slow bloom of my freelance writing business, there are times when I feel like I’m suffering a brain fart of epic proportions chock-full of doubt. I’ll catch my poor dad off guard when he’s watching another re-run of CSI and collapse on the couch with a disheartened grunt, embarking on a never-ending string of complaints and insecurities that probably make the gross  autopsy scenes seem not so bad (I promise he still loves me).

I tell him I’m swimming in a pool of pros. I don’t have a track record that boasts of 20 years of experience. How can I set myself apart? How can I make clients choose me? He’s a dude of few words, but he reminds me of factors within my control. And I wanted to share those with you today. Even if you’re just a rookie, there are actions you can take to land promising gigs and overcome a skimpy track record. Because hey, Abraham Lincoln didn’t start rockin’ the political scene right away either!


  1. Persistence – Persevering is the lifeblood of your freelance writing career. Develop a thick skin and go after what you want. Gigs won’t fall into your lap (unless you’ve got one killer luck gene). So don’t let rejection letters, or worse – silences – get you down. Persistence is what will eventually promote and nurture your talent.  Simply by being persistent, you can put yourself above the gaggle of freelancers that give up over the long haul. Talent may play a major role in establishing a good reputation, but unwavering determination counts for more than you realize.
  2. Education – If you want to keep a leg up on the competition, you better get used to the idea of life-long learning. Your education will never end – and it shouldn’t either. Reading reference books, joining professional groups and associations, and going to seminars or classes can give you new skills to market or help you brush up on the ones you already possess. This will make you more valuable to potential clients because they’ll feel confident in your ability to deliver on your promises. While education isn’t a substitute for experience, it’ll definitely boost your chances of landing gigs early on in your career.
  3. Professionalism – You don’t want to stand out as an amateur. Nobody’s asking you to sign up to look like Donald Trump. Conducting yourself as a professional isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Meet your deadlines, be respectful of your clients, project a businesslike appearance when engaging in face-to-face communications, maintain your integrity, provide excellent customer service, keep in touch with clients, listen to feedback from your clients and take it into consideration (good or bad), and always under-promise and over-deliver.
  4. Enthusiasm – A little enthusiasm can go a long way. Clients will pick up on your positive attitude and high energy. Let me put it this way…if you were looking to hire a freelancer, which of the following would you choose? The one with more experience but a lackluster approach to your project? Or the less experienced one who showed curiousity by asking questions about the assignment and seemed genuinely gung ho about working with you? Point made.
  5. Honesty – While the desire to beef up your credentials and embellish your capabilities may seem like a good idea at the time, you’re more likely to irritate a potential client than impress them. It’s kind of like false advertising…think the A-cup chick who wears a padded bra that gives off the impression she’s a C-cup. Be honest about you abilities because honesty and good manners are always remembered. After all, no client wants to be left with that cheated, sour taste in their mouth.

Got something else to add to the list? Suggest away!


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