5 Ways to Get Over Freelance Impostor Syndrome

5 Ways to Get Over Freelance Impostor Syndrome

Every decision can feel like a make-or-break moment as a solopreneur. You’re wearing multiple hats, making tough calls, and constantly stepping into uncharted territory. It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with anxiety and self-doubt.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of impostor syndrome. It’s the feeling that you don’t truly belong or deserve the success you’ve achieved — that you’re actually just fooling everyone into believing you’re legit. Most people experience it at some point or another. And for some, it can be a tough hurdle to overcome. When the fear creeps in, it can stop you from taking confident steps that might grow your business, like pitching a client, promoting your work, and asking for the rate you deserve.

Fortunately, impostor syndrome is so common, there are lots of proven strategies to combat it. Below, we’ll share our top five favorites.

How to Kick Impostor Syndrome to the Curb

Focus on the Facts

Impostor syndrome thrives in ambiguity — the foggy place between perception and reality, where we can take a neutral observation (like “they haven’t replied to my email”) and turn it into a damning narrative (“they think my work is terrible and my rate is too high”). The stories you weave when you’re anxious are usually rooted in scarcity and unworthiness. Recognizing that they’re not facts, but rather distorted self-perceptions, can be a helpful way to prevent a spiral.

The truth is, unless you’re a literal con artist or part of a royal family, you didn’t stumble into your success by chance. You’ve most likely worked hard, developed valuable skills, and overcome countless challenges to get where you are today. But when we’re facing impostor syndrome, we tend to minimize and overshadow our accomplishments. The way to stop that? By focusing on your accomplishments instead. Keep an actual track record of what you’ve achieved. Save the positive feedback you receive from clients and refer back to it. Note all the ways you’ve grown your business. By focusing on the facts, we can kick the illusion that we’ve faked our way to where we are, and embrace our strengths and accomplishments.

Connect with Members of Your Community

We all need people to mirror our gifts back at us sometimes, or just remind us we’re not alone. Strong, supportive peer relationships can be incredibly grounding, especially when you typically work solo. Freelancers don’t get annual reviews or everyday affirmations from colleagues and managers. So connecting with your freelance community can be a powerful way to counteract the nagging feelings of impostor syndrome that thrive in the echo chamber of your mind. Chatting about your struggles will often remind you how common they are, which can take the power out of the impostor monster too. Plus, you gain a sense of belonging, and who doesn’t want that?

Whether it’s through networking events, freelancer associations, or online spaces, building relationships with your community is worth the effort. You’ll likely discover that many of the people you admire have moved through the same fears and insecurities at some point in their journey.

Learn How to Quiet Your Mind

There’s a reason Buddhist teachings frequently refer to the “monkey mind” — the frazzled, distracted, anxious state so many of us are accustomed to living in. It’s the source of so much of our modern suffering. But there are ample (free!) tools that can help you quiet your mind, soothe your nerves, and counteract your inner critic. Mindfulness practices like meditation, body scans, and deep breathing can help, and so can basic actions like going for a walk or listening to uplifting music.

Anxiety tends to take hold when we get stuck in the past or the future instead of being present. So learning what helps you stay in the now — and building up your toolkit of coping strategies for when you get lost — is an absolute game-changer. It will benefit you in all areas of life. Quieting your mind is not about denying your doubts or invalidating your feelings. It’s the practice of acknowledging the fear and insecurity that’s rising up within you, while refusing to let it define you.

Celebrate Your Wins

As a small business owner, it’s easy to downplay your achievements, attributing them to luck or external factors rather than your own skills and efforts. And without colleagues bearing witness to your everyday wins, it can be easy to overlook them. But regularly acknowledging and celebrating your successes is essential for solopreneurs. It not only motivates you to keep going, but it can act as a powerful confidence-booster, reinforcing a positive self-image. So treat yourself to a coffee after you send that email. Share your wins with your community. Honor your milestones, big and small. And do it on a regular basis. These celebrations become affirmations of your power. And over time, they outweigh the false belief that you’re not enough.

Accept It

Instead of resisting or denying your feelings of self-doubt, try acknowledging their existence. It can be incredibly relieving to turn around and face your fear instead of running from it. Like the monster in your closet that turned out to be a coat, impostor syndrome is built on misperceptions — but we can’t see that until we turn on the light and look. The second you pause and get present with your insecurity, you begin to take away its power. And recognizing that impostor syndrome is a common experience shared by so many helps to normalize it too.

Self-doubt is a natural part of being a solopreneur, especially when we constantly push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. But acceptance opens the door to self-compassion. And the more you practice it, the easier it’ll be to find your footing again when impostor syndrome comes knocking. The goal isn’t to make it go away forever. It’s to get more skilled at counteracting it when it does show up.

Remember, you are not alone! I don’t know a single business owner who hasn’t struggled with self-worth, doubted their abilities, or diminished their experience. Impostor syndrome is a widespread struggle that so many face. And, ironically, it’s often successful, brilliant people who deal with it the most. So, know you’re in good company. But you don’t have to stay there. You’re deserving of your success, and all the magic that comes from seeing yourself as you truly are — a talented, worthy, creative powerhouse who’s only getting stronger with time.

How to Make AI Your Writing Companion — Not Competitor

How to Make AI Your Writing Companion — Not Competitor

During the summer of 2020, I worked for a content marketing agency that presented me with a disheartening message regarding AI in writing.

‘We are introducing an AI tool for writing blogs. Freelance writers are encouraged to learn to operate the tool or deliver 20 blogs daily to match the tool’s capacity. We will be compensated $150 per month for the work.’

At first, I thought it was a joke. Replace writers with an AI tool? How ridiculous. But then it hit me — they were serious. The situation left me disillusioned, and I quit working with them, as any writer with self-respect would.

Fast forward to 2023, and it’s clear that AI is progressing rapidly.

People are using ChatGPT to generate full blog posts from outlines, write their social copy, and more. And in this shifting reality, it’s important for professional writers to find ways to both compete in a changing industry and leverage AI to our advantage. That means consistently improving your writing skills while using AI to differentiate yourself from competitors.

This blog offers tips from top marketers and writers to help you enhance your skill set. But first, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Do you need to worry about AI in writing?

The short answer: no. Researchers gave AI tools to professional writers to generate 1000-1500 word stories in a recent study examining the role of AI in writing. I was fascinated by their feedback!

Writers unanimously agreed that AI is:

  • an excellent brainstorming partner.
  • a helpful research assistant.
  • a great beta reader.
  • a writing partner.

Basically, AI makes creative writing faster. Writers can bring their imaginative ideas to life with the help of AI prompts, despite lacking certain writing skills.

Another study found that college-educated professionals were more productive with access to AI tools like ChatGPT. These tools improved the quality of output for amateur writers and made the writing process faster. Skilled writers maintained their quality of work while increasing speed with AI assistance.

What does this mean for writers?

Both studies conclude that AI is not powerful enough to replace a writer. While it is very powerful, it still lacks originality and taste. So, writers who bring original opinions to the table tend to stay in demand.

On the other hand, the demand for amateur writers who lack unique perspectives or skills could decrease with the availability of advanced AI tools. Why? Because editors or marketers could create the same content by providing prompts to AI.

You must continuously hone your craft and improve your writing and research skills to remain irreplaceable. For example, if you’re writing about how HR can implement employee innovation tactics in their company, you can use ChatGPT to find real-life examples and case studies to prove your claims. This will enhance your blog quality and impress your clients.

AI in Writing: Tips for Succeeding as a Freelancer

1. Build relationships and be easy to work with.

At the beginning of my career, I got a client in the digital marketing niche. I wrote the paid pilot blog for him. I researched, submitted the piece in time, and added screenshots to support my claims. The client was so impressed that he raised my prices by 25%.

Why did he do that?

Your clients or editors already have a lot of work on top of reviewing your piece. In this scenario, you make their job easier when you do your research, provide screenshots or images so they don’t have to, and share the article right on time. This attention to detail goes a long way in building positive connections.

How to be “easy to work with”?

  • Clarify doubts at the beginning of the project. Nobody likes to go over the instructions multiple times. As soon as you receive a brief, read it. See if you understand everything. If you have questions, ask them as soon as possible. Once your client has mentally moved on from creating a brief and assigning a task, it takes extra effort to reorient to it and answer your questions. Ideally, jump in while it’s still fresh.
  • Always meet (or exceed) the deadlines. Companies have a blog calendar to keep up with. Your discrepancy should not hamper their schedule. A great way to meet deadlines consistently is to set a pseudo deadline before the actual one. For example, if the deadline is June 15, set another deadline for yourself on June 13. This way, you can finish the work before the deadline and create a buffer in case you fall behind.
  • Keep your clients in the loop. Emergencies happen. If you can’t meet a deadline, inform your clients ASAP. Drop them an email letting them know something came up and ask them to adjust the deadline. This gives them the opportunity to extend the deadline or reassign it to another writer so they can maintain their schedule.

2. Specialize in a niche and write tailored content.

Michal Leszczynski, the head of content marketing at GetResponse, says, “Freelance writers can get an edge over AI by obtaining in-depth domain knowledge. Equipped with a deep understanding of your client’s niche or product, you can create compelling arguments, write better stories, and show off your expertise — increasingly important for Google’s EAT.”

Michal is right. You wouldn’t like a shirt that is not well-tailored. It won’t fit you well. Similarly, clients dislike content not tailored to their requirements and brand.

How to write tailored content?

  • Understand the brand voice. Every brand has a tone. It ranges from professional or semi-professional to informal and witty. Go through your client’s website and see what kind of words they use. Echo them in your content. Replicate their tone. They’ll appreciate your work.
  • Reach out to experts for their opinion. Facts, stats, and general information are readily available on the internet. If you only pull research from other blogs, you’ll regurgitate the same content. Original opinions differentiate your work from others. Contact experts on LinkedIn and Twitter or use sites like HARO to get original opinions. Their expert opinions increase the blog’s credibility and establish you as a good researcher.
  • Read industry-related books and research papers.  Blogs can only help you so much. Read books from your industry to research a topic. For instance, I read “Built to Innovate by Ben M Bensaou” to write a blog about employee innovation ideas. The book helped me more than 100 blogs could. It’s because books have thorough information about any topic. The author goes above and beyond to publish (and prove) their original ideas. From books, you get original examples that make your writing 10x better.

“You might be in a saturated market, and a generalist copy will only get you so far. Arrow down and find a niche you can specialize in. Where can you bring unique insights, and first-hand experience, build a network of contacts, add extra skills (SEO, social media, etc.), and become a go-to person for something?” –Dominic Kent

All these elements make someone a high-quality writer. Anything else is table stakes for entry-level writing — the kind of content that will be replaced by AI.

3. Add human touch and creative thinking.

The research papers I mentioned above also pointed out some of AI’s limitations.

  • It has difficulty maintaining a style and voice.
  • Its suggestions easily revert to tropes and repetitions.
  • It failed to produce opinionated and meaningful conversations.

Human writing has no such limitations. We all are capable of adapting to a brand’s style and voice. We bring original research and opinions to the table — something AI fails at.

So, a great way to defeat AI in writing is to be unapologetically human.

Ways to add a human touch to your writing:

  • Combine short and long sentences. Long sentences with too much fluff or formality seem robotic, making them hard to read and grasp the information. On the other hand, short sentences are effortless. They flow. You easily grasp information and remember it. See what I did there?
  • Infuse storytelling. Stories are part of being human. There’s so much you experience in your daily life. Churn out stories that relate to content to make it more human. For example, below are two short paragraphs that explain how content marketing works. I — a human — wrote one, and ChatGPT wrote the other one.
    • “In a busy city, Lisa opened a coffee shop. Although her coffee was delicious, she was not getting customers. She was confused about how people would find her. So she started posting her daily coffee shop routine on Instagram. She created one blog titled, ‘Coffee to Go,’ and started sharing customer stories and recipes on it. She educated people about coffee and shared why her coffee was unique. Soon, her content became popular. More people found her coffee shop, and her business grew tremendously — that’s the power of content marketing.”
    • “Content marketing is strategically creating, distributing, and promoting valuable and relevant content to attract, engage, and retain a target audience. It involves using various types of content, such as articles, blogs, videos, infographics, and social media posts, to provide valuable information, solve problems, and address the audience’s needs. Content marketing aims to build trust, establish authority, and cultivate a relationship with the audience, ultimately driving desired actions, such as brand awareness, lead generation, customer retention, and conversion.”

I’m sure you can figure out which is which. Stories separate human writing from robot writing. It makes your content more readable and engaging.

4. Become a content partner for your client.

    Marketers, writers, and editors are generally drowned in work. Whether you’re working with a company, writer, or publication, lend them a helping hand and create a lasting impact.

    Doing this makes you more than an ad-hoc writer — you become a content partner.

    “The biggest miss I see freelance authors make is treating THEMSELVES like a hired gun. The person managing the work also deals with many internal politics, competing priorities, and, quite honestly, meaningless work. No, you’re not going to get paid anything extra to start. But you will build credibility and a relationship with your stakeholder to last an entire career.” – Tommy Walker

    There are freelance authors I’ve worked with for the better part of 9 years now, and they’ve worked with me at five different companies. Each time I do my best to help them get paid more, I know that in the long run, they will make ME look good.”

    How to become a content partner for your client?

    • Do SEO research on the blog so they rank higher. SEO is more than just inserting keywords in the blog. It’s what helps your client rank their blogs higher. Although the results rely on multiple factors like the client’s content strategy, SEO strategy, and website’s domain authority, you can still follow some tips to rank higher.

    I talked to Ankit Vora, a content writer for companies like HubSpot and Buffer. Ankit’s articles for Zapier and Videowise outranked the tough competition.

    I asked Ankit for his tips on writing pieces that rank well in organic search. He recommended writers:

    • Bring in original research that’s different from the top 10 pages that rank on Google.
    • Satisfy Google’s EAT framework by adding expert opinions. For example, if he’s writing for a Customer Success company, he talks to real customer success executives and adds their opinions. This makes your content more authoritative.

    Stick to the search intent at all times. In its ‘people first’ policy, Google clarified that it only ranks information that is considered relevant to its readers.

    Here are some other ways you can leave a lasting impression on your clients:

    • Help them distribute the content. Offering tips on content distribution takes one task off your client’s plate. You offer ways to distribute the content so they can directly implement it, reducing several hours of research time.

    I talked to Aanchal Parmar about how she helps her clients with content distribution. She shares relevant Quora questions that they can plug into the article. She also shares ways the client can repurpose the blog on social media.

    • Promote the piece by sharing it on your social media channels. Your personal brand can bring a lot of traction to your client’s websites. Initial traction pushes your client’s blog to SERP’s first page, and credit goes directly to you. Share your published pieces on your LinkedIn or Twitter with a link to visit the blog.

    See how Kaitlyn Arford shares her published blogs on her LinkedIn page. She uses a strong hook to lure the readers into the post and makes them click the link to read the blog.

    5. Implement Feedback from the editors.

    Multiple rounds of edits are frustrating for both the writer and the editor. But remember: You grow as a writer when you implement feedback without taking it personally.

    How to implement feedback correctly?

    • Read and understand the feedback. As soon as you receive the feedback, carefully review it so you understand the editor’s comments and suggestions. Take note of specific areas that need improvement, such as grammar, style, tone, structure, or content.
    • Revise and edit accordingly. Revise and edit your work to ensure it aligns with the editor’s feedback and the desired quality standards.
    • Ask for clarifications. If you have any doubts or questions about the feedback, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It’s better to sort out any misunderstandings beforehand so you don’t make the same mistakes twice.
    • Proofread your work. After making the revisions, proofread your work. Check for any remaining errors or inconsistencies. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting to ensure your work is polished and error-free.
    • Learn from the feedback. Editor feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. Take note of the recurring issues that crop up in your work and strive to improve those areas. Remember, editors notice when they provide the same edits multiple times. They also notice when you apply their comments in your future work.

    I’ve compiled a list of common edits. You can see what they mean and how to make changes. Apply these in your work to meet the quality standards and get approved after one round of edits.

    Editor’s comment What it means How to improve?
    Lacks context Not answering “why” or “how”


    • Takeaways
    • Prescriptive tips
    • Hypothetical examples
    • Instructions on how to actually use/apply the thing/principle in the real world
    Too robotic, Add a conversational tone Lacks varying sentence length Combine short and long sentences in the content
    Overexplaining Repetitive ideas Cut sentences that explain the same idea
    Too much fluff Has too many redundant words and sentences Remove repeating words and phrases like ‘then,’ ‘just,’ or ‘that.’
    Simplify Content has low readability. Use simple words and break down long sentences into smaller parts.
    Generalization Has claims without any proof Add relevant stat or research to increase the credibility of your claim
    Search intent missing Content lacks a purpose, goal, and CTA
    • Align the content with the right customer lifecycle stage
    • Include internal links to MOFU and BOFU content


    6. Use AI tools to your advantage.

    Remember how research shows that AI can be a great brainstorming partner? Look at how professional writers are using AI to their advantage:



    How to use AI as a content writer?

    • Kickstart your project with fresh ideas. All writers dread the blank page at the beginning of every project. Use AI at this point to generate ideas or create a basic outline for your blog or landing page copy. The tool will provide various subheadings along with pointers to add to those subheadings. You can vet the outline and improve it per your preferences and target audience.
    • Real-life examples. Examples enhance the quality of your blogs and help readers better understand the context. Use AI to provide relevant, real-life examples for any topic. Use this prompt: “Provide one relevant example that proves the benefits of content strategy.” This prompt will give you examples of companies that have implemented content strategies and reaped the benefits.
    • Editing and proofreading. AI tools like ChatGPT can help you polish your content. Ask them to provide suggestions to improve the clarity, coherence, and overall quality of your writing. You can ask it to review your content and provide feedback on areas that need improvement too, like word choice, sentence structure, or organization.

    The Future of AI in Writing

    While AI tools offer valuable support, human writers have the advantage of emotions, creativity, and adaptability. By leveraging their strengths and continuously evolving, writers can remain indispensable in their industry.

    Even though AI tools are becoming more prevalent in the writing industry, you can stay ahead by continuously improving your skills. Position yourself as a valuable content partner for your clients, and you can become irreplaceable in the face of evolving technology.

    Outsource What You Don’t Love and Don’t Feel Bad About It

    Outsource What You Don’t Love and Don’t Feel Bad About It

    John Doherty, founder of EditorNinja and Credo, sat down with Harlow co-founder, Samantha Anderl, to discuss the ins and outs of outsourcing to grow your freelance business.

    If you’re ready to scale and outsource the aspects of your freelance business that you don’t love – without feeling bad about it – this discussion is for you.

    Catch up on the conversation here:


    Stay in touch with John on Threads, Twitter, and LinkedIn!
    And follow along with EditorNinja on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram!

    Freelance Interview Series – Investing In Your Freelance Business

    Freelance Interview Series – Investing In Your Freelance Business

    Rochi Zalani is a freelance writer who helps SaaS companies grow their business through long-form content. She has worked with well-known brands like Zapier, Buffer, and more.

    Here’s her take on why and how you should be investing in your freelance business.

    "As a freelancer, time is money, and you want to use it wisely."

    Why should freelancers prioritize investing in their business?

    For me, it came down to efficiency. I was using 12+ software tools to manage my business — which resulted in a lot of admin management and context-switching.

    As a freelancer, time is money, and you want to use it wisely. It’s more than worth it to invest in courses that help you improve your skills, software (like Harlow!) that decreases your mental load, and even a virtual assistant to take some tasks off your to-do list. The return on investment is huge.

    How has the way you’ve invested in your business shifted as it’s grown?

    In the beginning, I stuck to free tools. That often meant going the extra mile to research good software/courses with a free version and trying many different platforms to find the one that fit my needs best. It was a lot of work, but at the time, my top priority was keeping my expenses to a minimum.

    As my business has grown, my needs have evolved. I’ve devoted a budget to business expenses like software and courses that help me scale and optimize my processes or improve my skills. And I use it as I see fit. Some expenses are recurring (like my Harlow subscription), while others are one-off (like courses).

    When do you recommend small business owners begin investing in their businesses?

    Ideally, as soon as you get your business off the ground. Migrating to a new tool later on can be a huge hassle. And, as they say, you have to spend (at least a little) money to make money.

    You don’t have to start with multiple paid tools, but you do have to start somewhere. This could mean:
    – Taking reputable courses that round out your resume
    – Devoting one day every month to learning a new software or platform
    – Trying the business tools other freelancers in your community use and love

    You could be stuck in grunt-working methods for years, trying to cobble together a bunch of free tools. Or, you could invest in the right ones early on and watch them scale with you.

    Talk to us about the tools you invest in for your business and why you chose them.

    Software-wise, I used to invest in a time-tracker tool, an invoicing software, and a project management platform. Harlow has replaced all of these for me now. It has been one of the best investments I’ve made because it simplifies my admin work by leaps and bounds. I can keep track of invoices, deadlines, and time all under one tab. It’s become a tradition for me to open Harlow every morning and see what I have in store for the day.

    Apart from Harlow, I still rely on Trello a little bit for client work. And I use Notion to keep track of email templates, interesting examples in my industry, and other valuable info. For scheduling my social media posts, I use Buffer. I also use Grammarly and Hemingway Editor to ensure correct grammar and easy-to-read sentences.

    (Out of all the tools above, I only use the paid versions of Harlow and Grammarly.)

    In 2023, I also bought Marijana Kay’s project planner and data vault. The former is immensely helpful for capacity planning and tracking my income. The latter is useful for finding the latest studies on various topics in my industry.

    I’ve also invested in many free and paid writing-related courses over the years — like Steph Smith’s Doing Content Right (paid) and Tommy Walker’s The Cutting Room (free). I vet any course I do thoroughly — primarily relying on reviews and ensuring it’s taught by industry experts who have walked the walk. These courses help me stay sharp, relevant, and skilled in the economy. No one has ever “learned it all.”

    For solopreneurs who want to begin investing in their businesses but don’t have much extra income, where do you recommend they start?

    Find the free tools and free trials and experiment with them. They might get only 50–75% of the job done, but they will still help you become more efficient.

    You might have to test many before finding one that fits your needs. I tried around five different social media scheduling tools before deciding Buffer is the best of them all. Notion has a bit of a learning curve — meaning it took some time before I could get the most out of it.

    I began investing by snooping around in other freelancers’ workflows, and I’d suggest you do the same. Ask your community which tools they love, and you’ll have a solid list to work from.

    If you haven’t picked up any courses in a while, I recommend dedicating two hours of your weekend (or Fridays) to learning. Again, you don’t have to find paid courses. There are free YouTube lessons and valuable articles for nearly every topic. You just might have to do the extra legwork of needling together many different sources of information.

    And keep in mind: Time is money too. You might decide that the time you’re devoting to researching and jerry-rigging free tools would be better spent on client work. This is why investing in paid tools can be better than free tools if they help you optimize your workflow. They save you time, which is a valuable commodity in our industry — and that’s more than worth it in the long run.

    Office Hours: Building Relationships Methodically

    Office Hours: Building Relationships Methodically

    Freelance web developer, designer, and founder of Freelance GPS, Tim Noetzel, joined the Harlow team for an Office Hours session all about relationship building.

    They discussed why small business owners should prioritize community building, the importance of nurturing your network, being your own biggest fan, and much more.

    Catch up on the conversation here:


    Stay in touch with Tim on his website and Twitter!