5 Freelance Writing Mistakes That Are Costing You
The Key to Making a Sizeable Income is Avoiding These 5 Mistakes
If you are new to the world of freelance writing, there is a lot that can be learned from the mistakes of those who have come before you. In my experience as a full-time freelancer, I have made my fair share of mistakes and many of those mistakes were made in spite of my own good intentions.
Unfortunately, many of the most common freelance writing mistakes that newcomers make at the beginning of their careers can be costly. On the other hand, when you know what to look out for, these mistakes can be easily avoided. Take the freelance writing mistakes that I and many of the freelance writers to come before you have made and use our bad experiences to heighten your career to new levels!
Working For Less Than You’re Worth
When I decided to finally sit down and take my first steps towards becoming a freelance writer, I was hesitant, reluctant, and inexperienced. I wasn’t sure where to start with reaching out to potential clients much less know where to begin with setting my freelance rates. If there’s one thing I would change if I had to go back and start all over again, I would approach my clients with confidence in the value of my services and I would charge applicably.
It’s very tempting to operate as though you aren’t worth much when you begin your freelance writing career. Although it is unrealistic to assume that you will land a lucrative gig on your first try as an amateur freelancer, that doesn’t mean you should be writing for peanuts either. This is a mistake I certainly made out of my own lack of confidence.
My first “serious” gig as a freelance writer involved writing a total of 25 articles for a series of websites. I was working as an alternative writer for another freelancer who promised me ongoing work if I successfully completed the first batch of articles at a rate of his choosing. While the freelancer that I am now would have run away screaming if a client made this kind of demand now, my less experienced self didn’t see the red flags. I was desperate and wanted to start earning a sizable income off of my work. For this reason and lack of experience in recognizing a bad deal, I took the work.
As it turned out, I worked tirelessly to complete a total of 25 articles at a rate of $5 each. If you are a freelance writer who is currently working for this kind of a return, stop now. Although the client reported that they were very pleased with my work and would be in further contact with me to assign work at a higher rate, I never received a single message after that. They took my high-quality work at meager wages and ran.
Regardless of your prior experience, there are many sources of work that you can utilize to earn what you deserve starting out. From freelancing platforms to multi-author blogs, there are plenty of places to look for work when you’re starting out. You don’t have to work for peanuts. Never take a job that insists on paying you less than you deserve. If you do, you will quickly find that you’re burnt out before you ever truly get started. Trust me.
Taking Any and Every Job That You Can
Just as you should avoid working for less than you are worth as a freelance writer, you should also do everything you can to avoid taking on jobs that don’t serve you. Let me start by saying that I understand how hard it is starting out. After all, you have bills to be paid and it can be tempting to take any job that comes your way in order to stay on top of your expenses. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should take just any job that comes your way.
When I first started, I was desperate to find work. Although I still had a full-time job to offer me some cushion as I got my freelancing career underway, I was running low on cash and starting to get worried. I had just moved into a larger home and making ends meet was proving to be much harder than I could have anticipated.
For this reason, I set up a Fiverr seller account and got to work promoting myself as best I could. When my first orders started coming in, I was willing to take on absolutely any job that came my way. Unfortunately, these clients were looking to take advantage of the fact that I was a new seller and knew that they could convince me to charge very little in exchange for work.
I, again, worked tirelessly to meet the demands of my clients and took on jobs that didn’t serve me. Not only was I producing 1,000 words of content for $5, but I was also giving 20 percent of all of my earnings to Fiverr, the cost of being a seller on the platform. This resulted in hours upon hours of work that resulted in very little money. Even worse, these clients held all rights to the content that I produced upon delivery of my work so I wasn’t even able to use these projects to build a portfolio. I was expending all of my energy to receive nothing in return.
Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Take care to only accept jobs that yield promising results for your hard work, even if you are desperate for work. Not only will you be making much less than you are worth as a freelance writer but you will also do yourself no favors in building a portfolio and attracting new clients. If a client seeks to make demands about how much you charge, wants you to jump hoops to continue receiving work from them, or in any way sounds fishy, it’s best to politely decline and look elsewhere for work. It’ll save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Not Conducting Research On Your Clients
As a freelancer, it is likely that you know how important it is to conduct topic research when generating content for your clients. What you may not know, however, is how important it is to research your clients.
As a new freelance writer who felt like I was well in over my head, I thought it was a waste of time to bother doing the research necessary to know my clients before I ever typed a single word for them. Unfortunately, this cost me a few jobs in the beginning as I wasn’t fully aware of the preferences of publications that I was submitting my work to. I was in such a hurry to submit my content that I didn’t take the time to conduct the research necessary to actually land a publication. I was operating under the false mindset that if I sent out my work to enough publishers eventually someone would take my work. It isn’t that easy.
Always know who you are submitting a piece of your work to. Do the necessary work to understand the preferences of their editors. Do the grunt work of getting to know who you will potentially be working for. Browse their publication to see what types of content they consistently accept. Put in the effort to make your work mimic the qualities of those pieces. It will pay off in leaps and bounds.
Being Afraid to Ask Questions
If you’ve landed your first gig, congratulations! You may currently be grappling with self-doubt, otherwise known as something I like to call “freelancer’s doubt”, thinking that your client will soon realize they’ve made a terrible mistake and that you aren’t capable of delivering high-quality content. Push those thoughts away!
Most of all, don’t let this fear convince you to try to cover up your insecurities by not asking questions.
It’s natural to feel as though asking questions may make your client feel as though you are inexperienced or that you are incapable of generating the content that they are looking for. This all comes from freelancer’s doubt and the fear that by asking questions you will expose yourself as a newbie. The truth of the matter is, you’re supposed to be asking your clients questions. As many questions as you need to be answered.
Put yourself into the shoes of your clients. Let’s say you were on their side of things and hired a freelance writer to create content for your website. That writer never asks you any questions about your business, they just write content based on what they believe you’ll like. This can go wrong fast and you may end up with a final product that is far from what you were expecting. Don’t be that kind of freelance writer!
If you want to generate the best possible content for your clients (and you should as a freelance writer), you have to ask questions. Without asking questions you run the risk of submitting mediocre work that isn’t what your clients were looking for. This results in revisions, or in the worst-case scenario, a complete cancellation of the job. What can really ruin your reputation as a freelance writer isn’t asking questions, it’s losing jobs because you were too afraid to ask questions.
If there is anything you are unclear about before starting your work for a client, ask them! Any client that cares about quality will be more than happy to answer your questions if it ensures the best possible outcome for them.
Giving Up Too Soon
The biggest mistake that I see new freelance writers make is giving up on their craft too soon. Worse, the fear to take on the challenge of becoming a freelance writer may be enough to keep them from ever getting started entirely.
I won’t lie to you, the beginning of your career as a freelance writer will be the most trying time of the entire process. Although I knew I wanted to write for a living from the time I was in the fourth grade, I didn’t make any serious action to generating an income from my work until I was 23. I didn’t start earning a sizeable income from my writing until I was 24. Now, at 25, I still struggle from time to time to find work. That being said, I’m in a better place now than I have ever been and I’m finally generating a liveable income off of my writing- something I’ve always wanted to say I could accomplish.
None of this would’ve been possible if I had given up early in the process when things were difficult.
Although I felt the urge to just give up and go back to solely focusing on my full-time job as a Marketing Director many times at the beginning of my career, I’m glad I persisted. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’m still learning, I’m still sharpening my skills as a writer, and there is still much for me to accomplish. That being said, I’m excited for the ride.
If you have felt the familiar temptation to give up on your dreams, I urge you to persist as I have. No successful freelancer simply gave up when things started to get difficult. With a little time and some serious hard work, you will accomplish your goals. It would be a shame for the world to never see what you have to offer.
Don’t. Give. Up.
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