Arif is a freelance writer with a keen interest in entrepreneurship and personal development. He is always on the lookout for a good story.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
So you just got into the world of copywriting, and it turns out that it's way harder than you thought. It's hard to find the right clients, you're lacking inspiration, or maybe you feel that your writing is not up to par.
And then it hits you— that feeling of self-doubt, inadequacy, and insecurity. You, my friend, are experiencing imposter syndrome.
Don't worry; you don't have to go to the hospital for it. It's actually a prevalent feeling that people experience, especially when starting something new.
Therapist Amy Morin, LCSW says that about 70% of people suffer from imposter syndrome—the feeling of being inadequate or unworthy despite apparent success. It's basically a feeling that you're not good enough at what you do.
As a freelance copywriter, the imposter syndrome could cause you to make wrong decisions when dealing with clients. For example, just because you're a beginner, you feel that you have to undercharge clients for the work you do, or you turn down clients because you think you won't be able to meet their expectations, or maybe you take on way too many clients because you feel you have to prove yourself.
The imposter syndrome can seriously slow down your progress as a freelance copywriter, so here are four ways to overcome imposter syndrome as a copywriter.
1. Confront Your Inner Beliefs About Yourself
The imposter syndrome is usually rooted in some dark inner belief inside you that is yet to be confronted. Many people have the assumption that they must always prove their existence by means of achieving something significant.
Beliefs like "I'll only be good enough when I [insert specific goal here]" are some of the most destructive beliefs you could have about yourself. Not only is it self-limiting, but it's also extremely toxic behavior.
Confront these inner beliefs about yourself head-on. Brave into the fog that is your own fears and ask yourself, "why do I think that I'm not good enough?", "why is my self-worth predicated on the opinions of others?", "what am I trying to prove?"
Asking yourself these questions may unlock the hidden truth that is lying dormant within you. Maybe there is something in your past—some painful childhood memory that made you this way.
According to Alexandra Benisek, former health correspondent at CNN and writer for WebMD, one of the roots of imposter syndrome is growing up in families that overstress the importance of achievement and success. If your parents constantly oscillated between overpraising and harsh criticizing, then you may be more likely to have feelings of being an imposter later in life.
2. Practice Mental Positivity
When you're just starting out as a freelancer, there will sometimes be a voice in your head saying that you're not good enough. And as a beginner, some of the harsh feedback you get from clients may re-enforce those beliefs.
You have to learn to drown out that voice and say, "NO." You're not a bad writer, just inexperienced. You're not a fraud, just a beginner. You're not inadequate; you're still learning.
Many successful people, not just copywriters but entrepreneurs in general have all learned to silence that negative voice.
Here are some exercises you could do regularly to help boost your mental positivity:
- Meditate: drown out all those negative thoughts and emotions away. Best to do it right after waking up in the morning.
- Exercise: a healthy body is a healthy mind. You don't have to go to the gym and start pumping iron; a nice brisk walk through the park would do.
- Journaling: writing down your thoughts for the day. May it be negative or positive—writing things down can really help rationalize your thoughts.
As a freelancer, there's going to be something new to learn every day. So that feeling of being a beginner and never actually being a so-called expert will always come. But you have to accept that that's all part of the journey.
3. Know That Every Successful Person Had to "Fake It 'Til They Made It"
Every successful person had to start somewhere. They had to be the "new guy" at the beginning. And it's okay that you don't know much about what you're doing at first.
For you to get anywhere, you have to fake it till you make it. You have to learn from experience and actually put yourself out there and offer your product or services to people—no matter the outcome. And the more you put yourself out there, the faster you'll learn.
Think about any of your favorite billionaires out there—J.K Rowling, Elon Musk, or Ralph Lauren. They all have one thing in common—they all started as a beginner at some point. It starts with the first page of a book, the first line of a computer code, or the first thread sewn into a piece of fabric. Think about all the rejections they faced, the criticism they handled, and the mistakes they made. They all must have felt some degree of imposter syndrome, and why wouldn't they? No one knew who they were at first. So in that aspect, there is no difference between these great people and you.
So when you're just starting out as a copywriter and you finally land a client, it is absolutely normal to feel some sort of imposter syndrome creeping in. It comes from a lack of confidence and experience. So once you do finish that job for the client, know that you'll probably get a lot of rejections and criticisms. Most of it will be constructive, but because of that imposter syndrome, you feel that it's the end of the world. You feel that you have let your client down. You may feel guilty for asking them to pay you. Or worse yet, you feel that you have "scammed" them.
This kind of thinking is absolutely irrational. Yes, hearing feedback can be painful sometimes, but you have to take it as something constructive and learn from them. You will get other chances to show what you're made of. And the next time you get a client, you'll be coming in with much more knowledge and skill than before.
It's not the end of the world.
4. Know That You’re Not for Everyone, and Not Everyone Is for You
As you go through your freelance copywriting journey, you will encounter all kinds of clients with all kinds of demands. And as a beginner, you may feel that you have to write for everyone—no matter what they demand from you.
An example of this is writing for a niche that is outside of your own—like writing for beauty products when your niche is tech.
The problem with being a freelancer is that it's only you. You are both employee and employer. There is no one telling you what to do and what not to do. So you have to learn it all on your own.
But here are some tips on what NOT to do when coping with imposter syndrome:
- Chasing every client you can get your hands on.
- Thinking that anything less than 100% is inadequate.
- Looking for the perfect client. (There is no such thing!)
- Taking on too much work.
You don't have to write for everyone. Stick to your niche and narrow down your writing scope to things that you will feel comfortable with. Or at least something you don't mind doing some extra research for.
Know your capacity.
Remember—You Are Enough
Whether it's starting out as a freelance copywriter, business owner, sports athlete, or even starting a job at a new company—imposter syndrome can affect anyone who is starting something new.
Yes, it will be scary sometimes. But if you're going to do something scary, that means you must already be someone who's brave enough to do it in the first place.
So you may feel inadequate at first, but you are brave. Remember that.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.