Online Freelance Writer: Learning to Love the C-List

For a brief period, I thought of branching out as an online freelance writer, and maybe even trying for the A-List. Reality is setting in, and I’m learning to love the C-list.

The last few months have been something of a whirlwind. I’ve been trying to find my professional path, and it hasn’t been pretty. I’ve got a fresh start in my personal life, with my family relocating for my husband’s cool new job, and there have been some whisperings here and there about new opportunities for me. But, in the end, I’m really just doing the same old thing. And I’m kind of learning to love it.

I can love the C-List. I think. Maybe.

online freelance writer

Will I REALLY Be Able to Move Beyond Blogging?

I’m an online freelance writer. I’ve got my journalism degree, and I’ve started writing content that’s a little more “newsy.” Sometimes I fantasize about adding a few other things to my repertoire. But then I remember that I’m C-List, and I’m not really willing to do what it takes to get off the C-List.

When I do things like run a successful (but small-scale) blogger campaign, or moderate a panel at FinCon, I think that it might be fun to do something else. When I appear on someone else’s podcast, I think it would be fun to do more of that sort of thing. Every week, when I participate in the Money Mastermind Show, I get excited about doing something else. I began offering workshops before I moved, and that was fun. But that sort of local connection was lost when I moved across the country, and I haven’t connected with anyone seriously about doing workshops locally (there have been two different people talk about it, but they haven’t followed up, and neither have I).

Then I really think about what it would take to make it to the next level. Even getting to the B-List seems like a lot of work. Yeah, I get up and I work hard, writing for clients and earning money for my family. But there are some things holding me back from moving from being an online freelance writer to making money in other ways:

  • I have a hard time asking for things: I’ve noticed that writers on the A-List and B-List are willing to ask for things. I barely managed to ask people to help with the Indiegogo campaign to raise money for self-publishing a book. In the time since I published my book, no fewer than seven A-List and B-List bloggers have approached me to leave reviews for their books on Amazon. That leaves out the other favors I’ve been asked for. I’m always being asked to do things, but I rarely ask anyone else for favors. It feels like begging. I hate feeling like I’m begging. I’d like to think that my stuff will stand on it’s own merit, without me having to ask others for reviews or for purchases or whatever. Yeah, no. If I really want to move to the next level, I need to learn to ask people for things.
  • It’s hard for me to market and put myself out there: In related news, it’s hard for me to market myself and put myself out there. I enjoyed doing the blogger campaign. Once that was over, though, I didn’t go out an try to land similar gigs. My biggest recent effort has been to offer the Kindle version of my book for $2.99, and the affiliate program is something no one knows about. I have a hard time putting myself out there, and marketing myself.
  • Confidence issues: I still struggle with confidence issues. Would it be cool to appear in more videos, or approach the local TV station as an expert? Sure. But beyond getting past the fact that I don’t put myself out there (I’d have to actually contact someone, you know), I don’t have a lot of confidence in how I look, or how I sound. I worry about saying something stupid or making a mistake that will come back to bite me. Plus, I may be branding myself as a financial expert, but I still feel more like an online freelance writer, and I don’t have any sort of financial credential to wave around. Not only that, but it’s hard to deny that no one wants to hear what I have to say anyway. My book sells at a regular (but very modest) rate, and the last three speaker proposals I put in for conferences were rejected. So, yeah. That doesn’t help the confidence, either.

freelancer in hiding

All of the above are things I could change if I put in the time and effort. But when I think about what it takes, I become daunted. There’s an ever present fear: What if take bigger risks and fail? Right now, here on the C-List, I can comfortably say I’m an online freelance writer. I enjoy a certain level of success. I’ve got a book. If you ask me to, I can run a creditable blogger campaign. I can even speak at your conference or put on a workshop. If you actually know who I am, you know where to find me, and you can maybe hire me.

Other than a few conference (rejected) speaker applications, I wait for people to come to me. That pretty much guarantees that I’ll stay on the C-List.

Finding Contentment as an Online Freelance Writer

While there are times that I struggle with this reality, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with my place as an online freelance writer. I don’t have to worry about rejection in this space. While I have a couple of fun and interesting side projects I want to do in the coming year — projects that will take me slightly out of my comfort zone — I don’t expect much from them. My track record shows that almost no one will notice or care.

So now I am looking for contentment in what I do right now. And, to some degree, I find it more every day. I make a nice living for my family. I have flexibility to work when I want, and to enjoy time with friends and family. I get to do a little traveling. I live quietly, modestly. These are not bad things. If I sometimes wish someone would buy my book, or that the Money Mastermind Show would get a little more attention, I find myself a little down for a short period of time before I remind myself that I have it pretty good. And if it was so damn important, I’d do a little more and take a few more risks.

When I think about all that goes into building a persona and all the self-promotion I’d have to do to make it to the A-List and command a fee that could support my family for a couple months, I realize that it’s really not my thing. So it’s time to just get happy with the C-List, and realize that, yes, I’ll probably be relying on others to hire me for a long time to come.

What do you think? Did I just Debbie Downer your day? Do you know what it takes to get to your next level? Are you willing to do it?


0 thoughts on “Online Freelance Writer: Learning to Love the C-List”

  1. I’m the opposite. Coming from a background of professional acting, rejection is part of my day-to-day reality. I honestly believe it’s because I’m willing to cast my net so wide and accept the twenty no’s that I’m able to find the one yes I need to take the next step.

    1. That’s a really good point, Stefanie! Part of my issue probably has a little bit to do with my upbringing/socialization in a microculture that values achievement and an image of perfection. Plus, a lot was easy for me early on. I didn’t have to deal a lot with rejection/failure until I was halfway through college. And even then the “setbacks” really weren’t. I think that crippled me a little bit, which is why I encourage my son to take on challenges so that he learns to deal better with failure than I did.

  2. I don’t know where the official cutoff is, but I’m not sure why you claim C-list status. While A-listers might get national exposure and enjoy a fan base, I’d say B-listers are known by everyone in their niche and can be found EVERYWHERE… sound like you?

    While a couple of your side projects haven’t been a great success, it doesn’t mean you can’t keep trying. The freelance writing is what pays the bills, the other pursuits keep things interesting!

    Also, I assume one of those rejected speaker applications means we won’t be speaking in April? 😉

    1. I feel old and like I’m fading into the background. All these damn kids running around. Knocks me down a notch 😉 Thanks for the pick-me-up. I’ll probably keep moving forward, but it’s draining, for a lot of the reasons I mentioned to Stefanie. I need an attitude adjustment. And no word on THAT speaker submission yet. I’ve had a couple others, though.

    1. Miranda Marquit

      I feel you there. It feels so weird to ask someone to leave you a review, or push something for you, or do any of the other things the A-Listers are always asking for. It’s like: If I do a good job, shouldn’t you just KNOW to do the right thing and leave a review or tell people about me?

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