Will My Lack of Business Savvy mean a Mediocre Freelance Writing Career?

I get frustrated with my inability to think like a business person. I have developed some skill in self promotion, but I don’t have much to promote. My lack of business acumen is holding me back, and it means that I’m destined to a future of just getting by in life. I’m a repeat offender of the cardinal sin of the modern writing profession; I write about things that interest me and not necessarily what other people want to read.

My Lack of Business Savvy

I’m envious of those writers who are able to make a good living from their own projects. These are often entrepreneur writers who have found a place in the market, and they now cater for this. They provide what their readers want, and they get to reap the rewards – and so they should. I suspect that some of these go-getters might be sick to death of their niche, if they even had that much interest to begin with, but they know what works and they can keep on replicating this. I’m jealous. These guys can even pay somebody like me to take on the writing duties for them, and I’m usually delighted to offer my services. I’ve learnt a great deal from these successful writers, but there is something holding me back from trying to emulate them. I can write about practically any topic for a client, but when it comes to my own writing it has to be something that interests me.

If I was still a teenager I could probably make my lack of business savvy sound cool. I could talk about staying true to my vision. I might even make a big deal about how I refuse to sell my soul for profit. This type of talk might sound acceptable from the mouth of a teenager, but at my stage of life it smells a bit too much like a bullshit excuse. I worry that my lack of a killer instinct has more to do with not having the balls for it (metaphorically speaking) than anything else. My hope is that this lack of a ‘go get’em champ’ attitude is just part of my path, but on my darker days it is hard not to worry if this is just an excuse for my ineffectiveness.

I Am What I Am

I remember what it was like to struggle as a writer. I would strain so hard to produce even one paragraph of readable text. It was obvious to me that I had no talent for writing, but there was this inner voice that would not allow me to give up. I kept at it, and I eventually found out where I had been going wrong. I stopped trying to write for other people. I began to write only for myself, and the irony was that I ended up with material that I felt happy to show to other people.

The reality is that I’m lacking in the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ department. I just don’t have the same motivation as those writers who are able to keep pumping out the stuff that is profitable. I respect them, and I even know how to do it, but every time I attempt to follow that path my energy levels plummet and I start to dislike myself. For me, it is like trying to swim upstream. Maybe I just have to accept that this is not a path for me, and that my instincts will take me somewhere that is going to suit me better. It seems pointless to beat myself up for being who I am.

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10 thoughts on “Will My Lack of Business Savvy mean a Mediocre Freelance Writing Career?

  1. Hmmm…maybe if you think of yourself as the client you would have better luck writing about subjects that, while profitable, don’t really capture your interest. Just an idea.

    1. Thanks Steve, I have experimented with thinking of myself as the client, but it doesn’t seem to work. I still have this mental chiter chater that saps my motivation. I even tried doing this work at the same time as work for clients, but it just feels wrong. I know it sounds odd, and it probably has a lot to do with my own personal hangups. It took me two years before I became willing to even put advertisement on my blog.

  2. Well, your last two paragraphs sum it up very nicely, I think. You asked the question and you got the answer, all in one blogpost! Good for you!

    1. Thanks Mary, one of the nicest things about these posts is that I do usually feel like I’ve been given my answer by the end of them. Unfortunately, I still get that nagging childish voice inside my head that wants to say “but…”

  3. I’m not sure I buy into the “I am what I am” statement. That is to say, of course you are what you are, but the creation of what you are rest entirely in your own head. It may not be a common occurrence, but people of all ages and walks of life have changed their lives through belief in that change. They may not have been what they are a the time, but by believing that they were a certain way (thinner, sober, more organized, less dependent, happier, etc) they manifest that reality in themselves. So, I would say the proper statement should be “I am what I believe I am.”

    1. Hi Steve, maybe I didn’t word that very well. I do believe that major change is possible – if I didn’t I’d still be a drunk. What I don’t believe, is that I should follow a path that makes me feel bad about myself just because it might prove profitable. If I’m doing something that is causing me to feel this way that is a sign that I shouldn’t be doing it. I found this out the hard way. For years I tried to pretend that I was a social drinker but no amount of positive thinking would manifest that reality. This is what I mean by ‘I am what I am’. I don’t mind the hard work involved in making changes, but if the change makes me feel uncomfortable than that is a different story. I could create websites full of stuff that people might want to read, but if I was just doing this for profit I’d feel a bit cheap – I’d feel like a bit of a spam artist. Other people have no qualms about giving the reader what they want so good luck to them, but I am what I am.

        1. Thanks Steve, these are ideas that I still struggle with, and there are times when I find myself full of doubt. It can be a thin line between accepting genuine limitations and just making excuses. The only thing that I have to guide me is my own intuition and inner sense of right and wrong.

  4. Hi Paul,

    This may be abit off topic but I have been thinking why dont you act as a trip organisor for foreigners wanting to come to Thailand for addiction treatment/recovery. To make matters simple, you just organise local airport pickups, arrange local accomodation, trip to and from temple and airport send-off. The trips should be organised in groups of min. xx number of people per scheduled trip. For these services of course you have to charge the clients. You may also help the temple by donating an X%of your profits for every trip you organise.

    I like the concept being used by Earl in organising similar tour types. Read more at http://www.wanderingearl.com/wandering-earl-tours/

    All the best.


    1. Hi Andrew, it’s a nice idea but there are already a few companies offering this service. Thamkrabok temple also offers airport pick-ups. Maybe I could have done something like this when I lived in Minburi (right beside the airport), but I now live in another part of Thailand. To be honest, if I was going to do paid work involving people with addiction problems, I’d want to do something a bit more hands on.

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