Take total responsibility for your freelance career.

No excuses for freelancers.The life of a freelancer isn’t always easy.

We have our ups and downs.

Maybe we lose a big client. Or that big prospect we thought was in the bag slips out of our grasp at the last moment.

Meanwhile we’re complaining about all the new freelancers entering the market, and pushing prices down.

Or we’re moaning about how the companies we’d really like to work with don’t seem to be hiring freelancers.

And then there’s that client who wants to renegotiate our fees, downwards.

In fact, if you put a group of freelancers together in a bar, and kept them lubricated with beer, you could listen to them moan and complain all night.

And that’s OK. Pour some beer down a group of people from any profession and they’ll find plenty to moan about.

But what isn’t OK is when that negative, moaning attitude becomes a permanent mindset.

Occasionally I’ll come across a freelancer who does very little other than moan. Worse still, they get into the blame game. Everything bad happening to their freelance career can be traced to someone or something else.

It’s the economy. It’s cheap clients. It’s an apparent absence of good work.

And soon they descend into a state of self-pity and misery.

That becomes their permanent state of mind.

And when you are immersed in the negative, and blaming outside forces for everything that goes wrong…you’re in a place you’ll likely never escape.

Over the years I have found myself going down this slippery slope a few times.

Most recently I was in the middle of a big project with a partner, and then he suddenly pulled out. My investment in the project, for which I never got paid, was well into 5 figures.

After being royally ticked off by what had happened, I got into a serous binge of self-pity.

And that’s when I decided to get serious about the “total responsibility” thing.

The idea is that you take total responsibility for everything that happens.

I lost that five-figure payday? It’s because I didn’t tie the deal down carefully enough before I got started. And that’s the truth of it.

I lost a long standing client? Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention to what they needed from me. Maybe I took my eye off the ball. And hey, sometimes you lose a client for reasons way outside your control. It happens.

Or I could moan about how many newer copywriters are charging peanuts and putting downward pressure on my own prices. Moan about it? No thanks. I’ll just work harder at offering a level of value that attracts higher fees.

The point is, if you want to do well as a freelancer, you need to take total responsibility for everything that’s happening.

No moaning. No blaming.

When you take total responsibility, you’re in control. You’re no longer a victim of circumstances and outside forces. You’re no longer passively waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

When you take responsibility, you’re in the driver’s seat. You are the boss of your own future and destiny.

Does this mean you can’t have a few beers and moan with your buddies from time to time?

Sure you can. Have a moan fest once a quarter. But for entertainment purposes only.

And maybe introduce your friends to the concept of total responsibility, and the freedom it brings you.


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11 thoughts on “Take total responsibility for your freelance career.”

  1. Very inspiring, thanks Nick, I am new Ghostwriter and I have found myself in almost 90% of all what you listed. I now know how to go about it.

  2. Bravo, Nick.

    Throughout my 35 years in business, whenever adversity walloped me, I was always able to find some element in the situation that I myself was clearly responsible for.

    Always. Every time.

    That meant that I was able to pick myself up and learn something to make that kind of adversity less likely to happen again.

    It also meant that I was able to look back without rancor and regret and go on in a lighter spirit.

    This is a happier, more productive way to live. It also enables you to be a better influence on others.

    Thank you for expressing it.

    Marcia Yudkin

    • Good to hear from you Marcia! And yes, you and I are the proof. Both of us still going strong after 35 years, BECAUSE we work hard, take total responsibility and keep marching forward!


  3. Hey Nick –

    I’ve just started marketing as a new copywriter (although I’ve done my own advertising in businesses years ago). I’m AWAI trained. I’ve got 3 degrees and spent a lot of money on education to better myself, including COS, books, organizations, etc. Things haven’t been easy.

    I’ve been unemployed for 7 years. I keep picking myself up and run the race toward that ultimate goal… for which I can seek out new ones.

    Although I may not know everything about writing copy, I know that I am better than a lot of “copywriters” out there… I’ve spent money and time with a coach as well.

    The last thing I’ll do is undercut myself. I plan on charging what I am worth to do A-Level copy. I know that I can do this. And I know that my clients will get great results.

    Your article is a great lesson and reminder of what I’ve been going through and for me to remember that it is I who at the end of the day have to look in the mirror and say, “did I do all that I could today…”

    Thanks, Nick.


  4. Hi Nick, as a newbie in copywriting, I found this educational and inspiring. I could moan and complain about how hard it is to build a client list and get business. But I decided to go with Woody Allen’s quote: 80% of success is showing up. I plan to show up every day until I’m a success!

    • Daria, good for you!

      The secret to my own success is persistence, even when the going gets tough. I do well because of my stubborn work ethic!


  5. When you get up in years like I have, Nick, you usually have much to write about when recalling the miseries of my 46 years as a real estate broker.

    In fact, almost every profession has its beefing. And real estate certainly had its bitching about clients. It’s not so much the pitiful competition that’s out there, but the clients.

    Yes, you get wonderful clients who appreciate you. But there is one thing you don’t have in your barroom freelance-writing meetings: Government and attorneys getting in the way.

    At 84, I won’t be getting in the way of you freelancers. Taking my wife of 62 years to fight off breast cancer has top priority. And Googling my way through what you medical freelancers think you’re writing is my prime concern.

    Be well, Nick

  6. Only recently found your facebook page (am currently taking one of your online courses) and felt this one really spoke to my attitude on life and everything.
    For me a few years ago, I decided to always allow myself a day (full 24 hours sometimes) to bitch and moan and feel sorry for myself, mostly in the privacy of my own home. Then the next day “I make myself pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.” to quote one of my favourite sayings, from a song in one of the early musicals I think.
    Thank you for both the course (Marketing with Confidence) and you facebook page, I’m finding both inspirational. Have I spelled that correctly I wonder?

    • Hilary, hi

      Good to hear from you – and I’m glad you found the course useful!

      And I really like your 24-hour moaning routine. : )



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